Care for Christian in Pakistan

By Shamim Masih

ISLAMABAD: Social evil is one of the most brutal and biggest curses to any nation which plays the vital role in the destruction of the society in any country or state. Pakistan is amongst one of those countries which are facing various disparaging social evils which have affected the law and order situation in the country, national harmony and peace.

Will I be safe today? Do I actually have the right to live freely? Can I walk on my own? These are just some questions every Pakistani asks himself every day. But as a religious minority member, I feel 200% insecure other than Sunni Muslims. There has been an unprecedented number heinous acts committed against religious minorities lately, whether it be violence, blasphemy, rape cases. Justice is still pending for countless cases in the country and the state has failed to deliver what is promised since independence – equality and justice for all. Development is not mere statistics based on only economic growth. What position does Pakistan have, when the cries of the minorities are stifled and the meek are silenced? On one hand we boast of a nation and its unity in diversity and on the other hand religious minorities has no voice of their own. They are merely shunted to the periphery for the society.

Sometimes I feel nothing can stir the consciousness of the people. We live in a materialistic era where money presides over the social issues, our own humanity. We all suffer from the ostrich syndrome. We think nothing is wrong till we start suffering. We fail to push forward the need for a change, a revolution.

September 22, 2013, witnessed the most brutal act that created ripples of protest all over the world. Twin explosions at All Saints Church in Peshawar killed more than 80 people and wounded over 100 others. The heinous act was strongly condemned in Pakistan and the world as well. Many houses in Joseph Colony, Lahore were set ablaze including two churches. I thought that the leaders and police would have more empathy for the sufferings of the weaker segment of the society. Finally the Supreme Court of Pakistan took Sou Moto action and the Supreme Court of Pakistan has brought smiles on the faces of the poor strata of the society.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the federal government to form a national council of minorities’ rights for protection of minority rights and ensuring religious harmony. The order further stated that those responsible for religious hate speech on social media must be brought to justice and children who face harassment at their schools because of their religious beliefs should be protected. The apex court also ordered the formation of a special force to protect of worship.

Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani ordered federal and provincial governments to meet a quota of minorities in employments in all services. The court asked the registrar to form a three-member bench to ensure the order is carried out. The new bench will also take up any cases related to the abuse of minorities. The said rulings were made in the detailed judgment on a suo moto case pertaining to the suicide bombing attack on a church in Peshawar in September, 2013.

Although CJ has ordered the formation of a National Council of Minority Rights but the fact is; extremism is on the rise and especially when blasphemy laws are still on the statute book. If we observe the past practice of the government, it is difficult to say whether government will take interest immediately implement the order. The past practice is minority faith groups including Christians, are frequently targeted and the misuse of the blasphemy laws in particular has been blamed for increasing inter-religious tensions across the country. And Pakistan was also named the sixth most violent place for the Christians to live by leading persecution charity Open Doors.

Pakistani Christians have welcomed the CJ orders but ground reality is totally different. We’ve viewed the past practice of the Pakistani government and society, in this situation we can only hope that after clear and cogent instruction from the CJ, Pakistani government especially during the PML-N ruling takes positive steps towards making minorities feel secure in the country.