Christians attacked and threatened to leave Pakistan in Quetta and Peshawar.<br>CSW and BF report.
14 Oct 2001
October 12 2001
Religious minorities in Pakistan were reassured of state protection when they met with President Musharraf earlier this week. In a two-hour meeting on October 9, which the President initiated, he assured them their lives and proper
There have been isolated attacks on Christians in Pakistan, including an attack by extremists on the Christian community at Quetta on the border with Afghanistan.Islamic extremists told believers at the Christian Colony University in Peshawar to leave the country and beat several before police intervened.
President Musharraf admitted these attacks were due to the failure of the local administration and blamed them on Afghan refugees who support the Taliban regime.He has recently taken action against Islamic extremists, banning two militant organisations in August and prohibiting fundraising to promote jihad or holy war.
He also passed laws to regulate the madrassahs (religious schools) which are believed to be training grounds for mujahideen (Islamic militants). Finally, he ordered key leaders of several pro-Taliban organisations to be placed under house arrest for three months last weekend. This included Maulana Fazal Rehman of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, one of three extremist Islamic parties who issued a joint statement on October 11 condemning President Musharraf's decision to offer the US logisticalsupport and declaring a jihad against the US-led coalition forces.
Minority faiths in Pakistan have already set up a National Communication Network to liase with local authorities and inter-faith conferences have already taken place.Successful meetings have already been held in Lahore, Islamabad and Faisalabad with representatives from Jamait Ulema-e-Islam at the Lahore meeting. At a local level, faith communities are already talking to each other, attempting to curb inflammatory statements and running seminars on conflict resolution.
Rev Stuart Windsor, national director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said: "We welcome the courageous steps taken by President Musharraf in the past few months to curb fundamentalist activities within Pakistan. "We are also grateful that he has taken the initiative to meet with Christians and members of other minority faiths and welcome his pledge to safeguard their lives and property. "We continue to call on the Government of Pakistan to protect the rights of religious minorities and to reform the law relating to blasphemy which has left Christians like Ayub Masih on death row."