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PAKISTANI CHRISTIANS

Background

Pakistan was founded in 1947, with the deciding vote casted by representatives of the Christian minority, pursuant to the request of the founder of Pakistan Mr. Mohammad Ali Jinnah. At the time Mr. Jinnah promised the said representatives of the Christian minority equal rights for all and the protection of Minorities under the constitution. Over the years, Christians have played a vital role in the growth and prosperity of Pakistan, most notably in education and healthcare. The treatment of Christians however has deteriorated very significantly. The first major set back occurred in the early 1970’s with the nationalization of Christian schools and colleges. This decision significantly reduced a source of employment, education and networking. From there on Pakistani Christians have faced an increasing amount of difficulties and hardships as they struggle to live in a country they helped form and develop.

Blaspheme Law:

The blasphemy laws came into force in the 1980’s. Under these laws, Christians and other minorities are, in effect, falsely accused, killed, jailed and/or tortured. This law is more often than not, misused and abused by many to settle personal grudges and animosities. Even though Christians were persecuted before these laws came into force, the blasphemy laws have been used to justify and even legalize many actions and crimes which can be classified as nothing more than the persecution of religious minorities.

Major incidences of Persecution in Pakistan:

  • Several Christian Villages were burned, including Shantinagar, Gojara and Korrian. People were burnt alive in these attacks.
  • It has now become a norm that if anything happens in the West which effects the Muslims, the churches in Pakistan are destroyed; recent incidences of attacks on churches in Karachi and Lahore.
  • On a daily basis Christians are forced to convert to Islam to save themselves from further harm and danger, by fanatic Muslims.
  • Young girls are tortured and raped, they are forced to marry Muslim men and then forced to convert to Islam.
  • The government has failed thus far to protect the innocent Christians and prosecute the perpetrators. Authorities, police and judges are afraid to charge people and make decisions which might upset the clergy and the fanatic citizens of the country. Lawyers are afraid to accept files that involve people who have been charged under the blasphemy laws because of the danger they would encounter for helping the so called “blasphemers”. Examples of this are Martyr Nawaz Masih, James Masih, Feroz Masih, and Martyr John Joseph Catholic Bishop of Faisalabad Dioceses who were killed by fanatic Muslims and have not been charged and/or convicted to date.
  • A pastor and his brother were fatally shot while in police custody in front of the court house. They too were falsely accused under the blasphemy laws.
  • Ms. Asia Bibi, a mother of (4) four, has been falsely framed and accused under this law and she is in a miserable state in jail, waiting for her death sentence to be carried out.
  • In this past year, the Governor of Punjab was assassinated because he called the blasphemy laws ‘black law’; his assassin was treated and regarded as a hero.
  • The Minority Minister Martyr Shabaz Bhatti was also assassinated because he stood up against these laws. The Prime Minister of Pakistan and Justice Minister have openly declared that the blasphemy laws will not be amended or repealed because of the threat posed by fanatics and radicals.
  • False accusations are made every day, and the Christians living in Pakistan are afraid for their lives. To provide an examples of the mis-use of and/or the threat posed by this law, just recently a young girl in junior school was beaten by her teacher and charged under these laws because she misspelled a word, relating to the Prophet Muhammad

Hope and Suggestions:

  • Allow persecuted Christians to apply for refugee status from within Pakistan. They do not have the means or the resources to travel out of the country to apply, a requirement under the current system.
  • Relatives of persecuted Christians should be allowed to sponsor their suffering kin, on a more expedient basis in order to ensure their protection.
    However, and importantly, such a system should not create a greater burden on the Canadian system, and on Canadian citizens.
  • Canada should lobby and persuade the UN to grant refugee status to Christians in high risk countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Egypt.
  • Most Christians have conservative values and will be easily integrate able into our society. They don’t ask for special privileges or funding, and they will adopt Canada as their country, as it is the country that will rescue them from their current predicaments.