Is it beginning of new era? By Shamim Masih


Pakistan has become one of the most dangerous places for Christians to live. The Urdu newspapers Daily Insaf and Daily Khabrain both reported on 20th August, 2000 that a judge of Lahore High Court, Justice Nazir Akhter said that “Anyone accused of under blasphemy charges should be killed on the spot by Muslims as their religious obligation and that there is no need for legal proceedings for a blasphemer.” Justice Akhter continued, “We shall slit every tongue that is guilty of insolence against the Holy Prophet.”
In April, 2013, the U S Commission on International Religious Freedom warned that the risk to Pakistan’s minorities has reached a crisis level. The Commission said that blasphemy laws, and others, are used to violate religious freedoms and foster a climate of impunity. Blasphemy laws are, at present, the most significant tool for persecution against the Christian community. These laws however have also often been used to settle personal disputes or just to make Pakistan into a Christian-free state.
Minor girl, Rimsha and her family are fortune fled to Canada; no one knows that what will happen to the rest of the Christians of Pakistan. Aasia Bibi, mother of five, after having been given a death sentence, is on death row for a comment that Jesus Christ is not dead but that the Prophet Mohammad is dead. For this, she was brutally beaten by her Muslim co-workers and now she is on death row. In addition to the well-known cases of Martha Bibi, Younis Masih, Rafaqaat Masih, Sawan Masih, and Samuel Masih and many others are also being subjected to killings, imprisonment with long sentences, beatings, and burnings. Killings, oppression and humiliation are more and more frequently taking place in Pakistan.
A shocked Christians could only cry as they tried to take in the bombing which has shaken the minorities particularly the Christians. Am I being judgmental? Yes, absolutely, allow me to say it as it is and not wrap hardened reality in soft velvet covers. Pakistani government delivers political statement from time to time in the favor of the minorities when some dignitary or delegation is to visit or when ever our premier is on tour to Western World. These statements are only spoken words in the air, nothing is done practically. There is a rigid and permanent policy to erode the rights of minorities and curb them by different methods.
I heard the Christian rights activist, Sohail Johnson said, “We are absolutely sickened and we say loud and clear, ENOUGH is ENOUGH” and Tariq Chaman, journalist and President Union of Minority Journalists Islamabad/Rawalpindi – UMJI said that these attacks were making Christians helpless and forcing us to leave this country. We don’t have any security here.”
Some are panhandling, attempting to eke out a “living”. Others walk, walk and walk, carrying both visible and invisible burdens, and trying to pass the time before they are allowed back to a shelter. In the wake of Rimsha case, attorney at the time of her trail has started a movement to raise voice of vulnerable people of his community. Yes, Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, ex Member Provisional Assembly - MPA, claimed the follower of (late) Shahbaz Bhatti. While celebrating the minority’s day this year, he announced his political struggle with the name Pakistan Minority Alliances PMA. He claimed that he will continue his struggle, which is left behind his late Quaid (leader) Shahbaz Bhatti. During the mean time, he said that PMA membership has risen to 5000 people around the country within couple of months. With this number he raised voice against the church blast in Peshawar. Talking to protest rally in all major cities of country, he demand to revisit the discriminatory laws. From Karachi to Peshawar, his cohorts demanded to find the missing people in the incident in All Saints Church Peshawar.
PMA chief said that he is struggling for panicky minority; Pakistani Christians are among the poorest in the country, often living in squalid settlements tucked away in the country’s sprawling cities. If government is not serious to address our issues, knowingly or unknowingly they are pushing us to choose another track.
During these hectic days, I assemble another bouncy man, Sohail Johnson chief of Sharing Life Ministry. After visiting the brutal assault, it killed around 100 worshippers during Sunday services. He said that why people are linking the attack on the Christian community with drone strikes? How can a drone attack, targeted by a foreign power be equated with a bomb blast, detonated by militants, infesting the territory of Pakistan? He said by not condemning the terror group, you are encouraging a brigade of narrow minded people in the unbridled pursuit of their lethal agenda that will eventually destroy everything of value of our Pakistan.
Earlier I bring in Albert David chairman Pakistan United Christian Movement PUCM, who is engage in unity of Pakistani Christians. He has visited Peshawar twice during this week; he is passionate to bring change among the Christians in Pakistan.
I saw pieces of human flesh scattered on the ground during my visit to All Saints Church Peshawar. I found slippers of small girl and belongings of Sunday school children. In the mayhem surrounding me at that time, the slipper and Sunday school students were all I could think about.
The government will have to take concrete measures to empower non-Muslims through application of Article 226 of the Constitution and amendments in the Blasphemy law. There is a limit to tolerate false accusation. Stop hate; don’t force them to ask a province or an independent country. Already Javed Hashmi has spoken logically and emphatically against this law in the National Assembly on 24th September.

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