Friday, 22 January 2016

Extremists take aim at Soft Target

Extremists take aim at Soft Target

Shamim Masih

ISLAMABAD: Once again Islamic extremists forced sobbing parents rushed into hospitals searching for their children. Taliban insurgent once again hit soft target at Bacha Khan University on 20th January, 2016 Wednesday after a month Pakistan observed the first anniversary of the deadly attack on Army Public School and killed about 150 students and teachers in Peshawar. Four terrorist entered the University and shot killed at least 30 including two teachers, injured students said the toll could be much higher were it not for a teacher armed with a pistol that briefly held off the attackers before being killed. The attackers had chosen a day to attack when students and faculty members gathered at the school for a poetry recital to commemorate the death anniversary of Khan Abdul Ghuffar Khan, the activist and a leader after whom the school is named.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a banned organization claimed the attack through a post on his Face book page, adding that four attackers were sent to the University. On the other hand TTP – Fazalullah group condemned the attack, terming it “against Shariah”. Banned organizations are still operating freely in Pakistan. The government bans an organization; it emerges with a new name, contests elections and even wins seats and takes part in legislations. Lashaker e Tayba, (LeT) banned in 2002, changed its name to Jamat u Dawah (JuD) and still working freely under the guise of a welfare trust - often along with Pakistan Army in cases of emergency and one of its main office in heart of Islamabad, the capital.
son of Liaqat Masih 
It is observed that recently Islamic militants had chosen and hit soft target. Educational institutions, worship places and minorities of the country. All Saints Church in Peshawar was attacked in which more than 127 people were killed and over 250 injured. Later; on March 15, 2015, at least 20 people were killed and more than 80 injured when two Taliban suicide bombers attacked two churches in Youhanabad, Lahore. But when happened next, the average response after these attacks is exactly the same as any other in the past. “They are not Muslims; terrorist has no religion, its conspiracy and so on. Such oversimplified; sweeping statements have become a part of national discourse in Pakistan.
Islamic radicalization has no boundary and it does not need any set organization, its mind set; as a Pakistani Christian writer, I have been raising voice against this mind set and when we talk about this mind set; watchdogs usually see and call to threaten for raising voice of voice less people. We have seen such people from all walks of life. The most ridiculous of all has been the response of Ansar Abbasi and Orya Maqbool Jan, the same were considered as their negotiators back in 2014.
The year 2016 begun with attacks for Pakistani Christians; five different incidents were reported in just first two weeks, on Sunday, January 03, Muslim youth disrupt Christians’ New Year prayer meeting. Muslims in a village Nawapind, in Pasrur who seized a church property have disrupted a prayer meeting at a private residence, a source said. Sources confirmed that local Christians obtained written approval from the district police office. But when Christians began worshipping, some Muslims heading Rashid Jutt reached there and disrupted the meeting. Local police officer, SHO told that police resolved the issue at a village council level meeting. On 7 January, the New Apostolic Church in Batth Village, on Multan road was set on fire after New Year celebration in suspicious circumstances alleged to be arson attack. On the same day a Muslim man went into the Church and burnt copies of Bible in Victory Church, Kasur.
On 14 January, a Pakistani Christian man died while in the custody of the notoriously brutal police of Punjab in Kelaske, Gujranwala. On the same day, TMA worker in Sialkot was shot dead in the morning whilst cleaning the streets. Nazir Masih, a devout Pakistani Christian and father of five children, the only breadwinner was gunned down. He was struck by four bullets and despite the noise this many shots would have made in the constantly busy streets the gunman remain unknown. Four Christian’ girls were victimized in different areas of Punjab. Two Pakistani Christians asylum seekers died in Thailand during January.

As extremists are taking soft targets but our government has not provided any security to churches and educational institutions in the country. Bishop Humphrey Peter said that government did not provide any security for churches and other institutions. I have not been to understand, where do we stand? What is the future of our children? Security of an individual is purely responsibility of the govt. 

Monday, 11 January 2016

Out of the frying pan into the Fire

Out of the frying pan into the Fire
Shamim Masih

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is predominantly a Muslim country with its 97 percent of population adhering to Islam and the religious minorities make just a fraction of the population with varying estimates few percent of the total population. Constitution of country guaranteed the rights and protection of the all its citizens. Founder of country, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, apparently promised freedom for other religious minorities in his address to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947 and Christians along with other religious minorities agreed and believed his promise. But unfortunately it didn’t come true and Pakistan is now not known as a responsible democracy. Recently many banned organization have been openly speaking against the rival sects, and other religions, resultantly killing of many innocents from religious minorities. Pakistan has been a growing hatred problem and most of it is being driven from within the urban/semi urban centers. Though Article 20 of the constitution deals with the “Freedom to profess religion and to manage religious institutions and 36 is about the protection of minorities and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities but reality is unfortunately has gone to worse because of the growing violence against the religious minorities in Pakistan.
Based on the 10 incidents which took place in one month (October 2015) only in Punjab, USCIRFurged the U.S. State Department to enlist Pakistan among nine nations as “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) – a designation for those nations considered to be the worst violators of religious freedom. These include government that “engage in or tolerate” systematic ongoing, and unspeakable violations of religious freedom.
In the recent years, attacks on religious minorities have increased though Pakistan Islamic persecution of Christian’s may not be on the level of ISIS; nonetheless it is still quite horrific. The long sufferings in the country have been worsened by a sense of deprivation among the locals, and an inclusive political system is unable to achieve sustainable peace and stability. Thus many Christian families like Hindus have fled to other countries seeking protection and rights to live like other human beings. But this is very unfortunate that Pakistani Christians are not being welcomed in Europe like EU welcomed million Muslims.
According to BPCA, Samina, a Christian woman who had fled violence-ridden Karachi and sought refuge in Thailand, died on Christmas Eve after she was arrested after her visa expired. She was arrested as part of an ongoing wave of arrests of foreigners deemed to have overstayed their visa and was detained in horrific conditions. Most Pakistani Christians, asylum seekers who have given that status by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) but because Thailand refuses to sign the relevant Refugee Protocols that most other nations have, it does not recognize that status, and treats such Pakistani Christians as illegal immigrants. Therefore thousands of Pakistani Christians are either living in prisons or hiding places and if found are badly treated.

While I am writing story, another man, Bashir Masih, reportedly died there. Sources confirmed that there are more than 200 people still in the lock ups. And many more are living miserable life in hidden places fearing of being arrest at any times. Australia, Canada and many European countries have granting immigration visas to thousands of Pakistani and Afghans in the recent years. But Christians’ visa applications are turned down in thousands in the last year, 2015. In fact these applications are rejects without citing any convincing reasons, in fact many of them on frivolous grounds, which surprisingly cannot be challenged at any forum. Will the situation remain same for Pakistani Christians?