Justice without discrimination, we demand
By – Shamim Masih
|Saint John's Church, Yohanabad, Lahore|
Islamabad: Over the last three decades, Pakistan has transitioned from a developing to an unstable and fragile state. Pakistan is confronted with terrorism which has emanated from the events in this region over the last thirty years. Although democracy successfully returned to Pakistan in 2008 after nine years of military rule, Pakistan continues to grapple with economic decline, weakening of the social capital and increasingly violent socio-political conflicts. The weakness of mechanisms to address conflict without violence are compounded by human rights abuses and widening division on the basis of ethnicity, gender and religion. Weakening cohesion between different segments of the society, conflicts over resource distribution, humanitarian assistance and representation often spiral into violence. Relationship between the government and its constituency lack trust, accountability and transparency.
|Discussing with officials during the incident|
Pakistanis have been attacked in Masjids, Churches, Imam Baragahs, market places and schools. Our children and women were killed irrespective of their religion. Islamist militants in Pakistan have frequently attacked Christians and other religious minorities over the last decade. But the recent bomb attack on two churches in Youhanabad has left Christians terrified and afraid; many in the aftermath ran from the incident site and locked themselves in their homes. Other full of fury and rage rampaged through the streets, and a few of them took the law into their own hands murdering two cohorts of the attack who they alleged were believed to be involved in the terrorist attack. The two men were burned alive in an act that emulated the manner in which many Christians and other blasphemy law victims have been murdered by the extremists in the past years. Now government has arrested many of them, I take them as victims now. They will suffer and nobody will help them in any sense. NGOs and others so called activist is regularly going there for photo session but nobody will realize their pain.
We Pakistani are already living in critical zone; always live under constant different threats, we cannot move freely in parks, markets and we are not safe in worship places even. We always face short of different services, occasionally our internet and mobile service is struck off due to security reasons. And Christians of the country are impoverished segment of the nation. It was contrary to their usual reaction. Any Christian around the world supports their arrest and the arrest of any protesters that caused damage the public and private property. We believe that rule of law is paramount to order and control. Local Christian leadership has given the names of those who were involved in this incident and some mob destruction of property. Christians normally do not react in this manner. However there are examples of reaction seen many times, protesters even have razed every blockage on their way and destroyed the public and private property. But don’t want to drag the names of the people who have been working for the humanity. There are rumor that authority has registered the names of some of those people as well. Very obviously; we believe, its inhuman and degrading treatment, but where it comes from?
I believe, law breakers must be brought to justice but can someone give me the names of the perpetrators of Gojra incident where eight family members including two children were burnt alive, how about the people involved in burning 2000 Christian’s houses including 13 churches in Shanti nager, Shangla Hill and in Joseph Colony Lahore, where 178 Christian house including two churches. What about the protesters, who destroyed the twin city and looted shops and ATM machines around the country when Banazir Bhutto was killed in Rawalpindi. How about the mob that went to French Embassy when there was hue and cry about sketches? In the recent year, how many were punished while attacking the parliament house and even Supreme Court of Pakistan? And most recently how many were punished when Christian couple was burnt alive in Kot Radha Kishan. Justice should be given to all without discrimination.
The government of Punjab and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar claimed to take strict action against the perpetrators of the violence. Mr. Nisar and CM Punjab are answerable to the Christian community to provide justice without any discrimination. We do not condone such violence and hatred said Wilson Chaudhry, chairman British Pakistani Christian Association. We wholeheartedly support the arrests and prosecution of any Christians involved in the murder. But we condemn the excessive force by police who are quite randomly capturing Pakistani Christians in a crack-down that is deemed bias. We call the government to protect all those arrested while they go through legal process, he added. Pakistani media have wholly focused on the murder of “more valuable lives of Muslims”. Their skewed reports on the attack have fuelled the great hatred towards Christians in Pakistan.
The Supreme Court has ordered to protect the worship places of religious minorities. But sadly interior ministry doesn’t seem interested to do so. Ch. Nisar claimed that due to the shortage of the staff, ministry is unable to provide security to all worship places in the country. However police officer told us (agreed not mention his name) thousands of the police officials are fixed in and around Raywind Mohal and the same are deputed in Raywind for the religious services of Sunni Muslims.
It’s another Sunday, Church leaders have called for their parishioners to attend their churches despite threats that their churches will be bombed. It will continue and continue…. Let’s pray for Pakistani Christians, let’s stand with each other, and let’s hold one another. Many of us are tired of government and are looking to build sustainable communities. Governments are their intelligence services and their lack of respect for human rights are wreaking havoc and promoting fundamentalism around the world and especially here in Pakistan.