ISLAMABAD PAKISTAN (SHAMIM MASIH): Its general perception among Pakistani Muslims that UN, USAID, British High Commission, American Embassy, Christian diplomats and other foreigners are helping Pakistani Christians, but the reality is different. Let me give you the actual situation.
On February 6, 1997, a religiously charged mob attacked village Shantinagar, district Khanewal in which about 800 houses including churches, hostels were torched. In November 2005, in Sangla Hill, about 100 Christian houses, schools, hostels, and Christian Clinic were burnt. On 1st August 2009, Christians were attacked in Gujra and 8 persons of a family were burnt alive and about 130 houses were turned to ashes. On 30th June, 2000, Christians were attacked in village Bahnamiwala, District Kasur in which about 102 houses were destroyed. On 21st September, 2012, Church, school and pastors residences were turned to ash. And more recent, on March 9, 2013, over 200 homes of the Christians community of Joseph Colony in Lahore were burnt.
Ironically none was punished under the law for such gory episode; these barbaric attacks have sent a grave message to the already marginalized Christians. The sense of insecurity has alarmingly grown beyond proportions. The blasphemy law has been repeatedly used for settling personal scores, religious persecution, professional rivalry and for land grabbling.
This is not the end; large numbers of Christians accused of Blasphemy cases getting their lives rusted in the jails for years and years and there is no future to their children or other family members.
I am freelance journalist, Christian by faith and a social activist working for a democratic, tolerant and progressive social order and for socio economic and political rights of religious minorities especially for the Christians of Pakistan. I have devotedly served in the field of human rights during the last decade and have been raising their issues, persecutions, and rights through my writings, without any support.
I feel very helpless and ashamed when I received phone calls and emails from Christians all around the country for help in employment, protection on threats from fundamentalists, help for their children educations etc but I can’t support them. I remain silent for hours on reading email/news of the blasphemy victims who are behind bars or acquitted from higher courts but living in hiding to save their lives. The news items of rape and enforced conversion of Christian women make me sad and silent. I went to Gojra and had travelled to Mardan, when the church burnt there and went to Karachi, when Ryan accused of blasphemy case and have reported on Badami Bagh incident as well. I write for the people whom I have seen working on ground realities, for example, CLAAS has been working for years for the Christians persecution, WVIP is seen during Ryan case and others as well, I have seen Sardar Mushtaq (chief of LEAD), working for persecution without any funds, Basharat Khokhar was seen during Rimsha case, and I appreciate his efforts in protecting her during the case proceedings and I have seen him struggling him for Christian rights, but there are so many other settling scores. I have seen the struggle of Albert David for unity among Pakistani Christians. I have seen Saleem Khokhar, sitting in provincial parliamentarian; he bears ground to earth personality. I am helpless when hear the reports of Muslim culprits of gang rape of Christian girls walking free from courts. (Even those were set free who killed Shahbaz Bhatti ex-minister).
Role of our churches, local and INGOs: It’s time to think twice that what NGOs under Christian supervision, Churches and political leadership are doing? Where all funds are going which Christian civil society, Churches have been receiving in the name of poor Christians. How many Christian institutions are facilitating Christian’s students? Why western governments are denying visas to acquitted blasphemy victims? It made me to think; is USAID for Muslims in Pakistan? When their slogan is “From the American People” is all American people sending for Muslims? If not, then why Christian youth is not receiving scholarships for education, funds for business, employment in their offices? Why there is no program for Christian youth? Why western human rights champions keep silent on rape and enforced conversion of Christian women? Why a common Christian has no reach to embassies and if someone applies for visa, why is it refused, because, a poor Christian has no property and no strong background? Isn’t it? Why UNO is silent on killing of Christians and attacks on Christians worship places? Million Christians are crying in Pakistan against blasphemy law, extrajudicial killings, wrongful confinements and discrimination but UNO remain silent.
It’s just an example; I worked for “People to People International” PTPI and didn’t receive even a single penny on the other hand a Muslim running a chapter “Punjab chaper” in Gujranwala Pakistan, have got thousands of dollars and have done nothing on ground. He got visas dozens of times and taken many Muslims with him to many countries dozens of times. I applied visa for US in 2010 and was refused not only this but my “Islamabad Chapter” was revoked just because of this reason. In all UN organization and USAID, there are 90% Muslim employs and 99% of them are Pathans.
No one dare to ask to NGOs like ILAP governed under Christian supervision, that how many Christian employs they have? No one bother to pursue when Christian institutions in Rawalpindi pushed out Christian students for not paying their fees. Are these institutions are just for business purposes or is there any sense of security/realization for Christians students? How many Christian’s students are studying in Jesus and Marry Convent in Islamabad/Rawalpindi Pakistan? We don’t have right to ask our Christian politicians, what they have done for Pakistani Christians. As they were selected ones, they didn’t come in through their votes but through paying huge funds (collected on poor Christians name) to Muslims Parties and this practice is still going on……. They are so many Christians looking for gate way through paying funds to Muslim political parties.
Pakistani media normally do not highlight Christian’s issues, why there is no powerful electronic and print media for their rights. We don’t have a platform to print or give stories of oppressed and persecuted Pakistani Christians. I usually write for the oppressed and persecuted Pakistani Christians and I am thankful to Pakistan Christian Post, Salem-news, ANS, Global Christian Voice, John Hauk, and Wilson Chaudhry, taking pain for Pakistani Christians and they are highlighting their stories/issues.
During my writing work, I have been receiving threats from Muslims but being hit by the people sent by imported so called Christian Politian, who delivered nothing but wanted to stop me to write the facts.
It is observed during the said time period that all these institutions have their vested interests, it could be political, geographical, or whatsoever it is, but not for Pakistani Christians.
It is not criticism but appeal to all human right organizations to take notice of incidents of victimization of Christians and support them. Because when you “American” Terry Jones burn Quran, you don’t suffer but we, Pakistani Christians.