Christians, victim of Terrorism
By Riaz Anjum advocate
Ever since the existence of Pakistan, Extremist Mullahs have always been trying to hijack the State. The greatest damage to our homeland has been done by these extremist Mullahs. This cult has never missed any opportunity to harm our national interests. Sometimes raising slogans of democracy, while sometimes under the umbrella of dictatorship, and often under the guise of humanitarian workers, this cult has always been trying to gain access to corridors of power, to implement their own fanatic agendas.
During the Pakistan movement, when the Muslems and Christians of the subcontinent were striving for an independent homeland, fore fathers of these extremist Mullahs on payroll of Congress, vehemently opposed all such efforts. They went to the extent of labeling our nation’s Founding Father Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, as Kafir-e-Azam (Greatest Infidel).
After the creation of Pakistan, some of these Islamists remained in India, while many found themselves living within the borders of this new Republic whose very creation they had opposed and which they used to refer to as Kafiristan (Land of Infidels). From then onwards, this cult and its fanatic allies started proclaiming themselves as true Muslims and termed anyone who disagreed with them as Kafir
During the 1971 political stalemate, when Gen. Yahya Khan’s military junta annulled the legitimate election results and banned the Awami League in East Pakistan, extremist elements saw an opportunity to reach the corridors of power.
Purporting themselves as torchbearers of Islam, these fanatics started blackmailing the elected democratic government of Prime Minister Z. A. Bhutto. When the new constitution was framed, Pakistan was for the first time proclaimed as an ‘Islamic Republic’.Noteworthy here is the fact that Pakistan’s Founding Fathers envisaged it as Secular Muslim Homeland, not a theocratic state ruled by priests.
States have no religion; it is the people who have religion. Today in the world, there are only two Islamic Republics, one a somewhat confused democracy called Pakistan, while the other, Iran, currently ruled by Mullahs.
Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was undoubtedly a statesman of great claibre, preceded only by Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah. His people oriented policies such as land reforms and nationalization did not go down well with the extremists and the military-feudal interests. These elements, with the covert support of their international backers started hatching conspiracies against the elected popular PPP government. In July, 1977, PM Bhutto’s democratically elected government was toppled in a military coup, abetted by Mullahs, who considered his program of social reforms a threat to their goals. The popular Prime Minister was imprisoned in the harshest of conditions and executed two years later, after a sham trial involving fictitious murder charges.
Next comes the decade of the 1980. These extremist Mullahs used to harp the string of democracy in the 1970s, became an active partner of Gen Zia-ul-Haq’s regime. Extremist people portrayed its dictator patron Zia, as a great Moslem ‘hero’
With the arrival of the Zia government, extremist elements finally found state power. We can say extremism as project was set into motion by Zia-ul-Haq. During his regime, Islam was used as an instrument of power and religious groups/parties were supported by his government. In his regime, an objective resolution was made part of constitution and declared that Christians and other non-Muslims were secondary citizens.
All these demands which were not accepted by Quaid-i-Azam, his companions and Bhutto, were converted into laws in the regime of Zia. Many religious groups came into existence and some of them were part of the military wings in his regime. These military wings started to dominate each other. During their war of ideological domination, they did even begin to assassinate each other.It is the misfortune of Pakistan that these elements have become so powerful that they always been compelling respective governments so as to achieve objectives
Almost no social change has come even after the dictatorial tenure of Zia. Extremism and terrorism, which Pakistan is facing today, are the outcome of the self-centered policies of General Zia.
Largely, the regime of General Pervez Musharraf, a retired four-star general and a politician who was brought to power through a military coup d’état in 1999 and served as the tenth President of Pakistan from 2001 until 2008, was considered a enlightened and modern because he pretended himself a modern and liberal person at national and international level, but in my view, the real situation was different from general perception.
He did not make any effort to repeal or amend most controversial blasphemy laws of Pakistan, which are always misused against Pakistani Christians. In his regime, his “rubber stamp parliament” did not table the “amended bill of blasphemy laws 2007” which was presented by M P Bhindara, a non-Muslim member of parliament.
Now extremist elements dominate almost all the fields and departments of life here in Pakistan, including the print and electronic media. It has become very difficult for human rights activists, especially Christian human rights defenders to work for human rights and persecuted Christians.
One one hand extremist elements have targeted Christians and on other hand Blasphemy laws are being misused against Christians. Number of attacks on Christians by extremist elements is continuously increasing by the time. In recent attack at least 22 people were killed, and more than 80 others injured, as two churches in Youhana abad the main Christian colony of Lahore, Pakistan, were attacked on March 15. An Islamist group, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, linked to the Pakistan Taliban, claimed responsibility. At least two of the young attackers blew themselves up one at each church when Christian volunteer security guards, working with local police, confronted them at the entrances to the churches. The attackers wished to cause maximum damage; more than 2,000 worshippers were present in the two churches for Sunday services but prompt action by the Christian volunteers prevented the attackers from entering the buildings.
The misuses of blasphemy laws, forced conversion, burning of Christian villages, assaults, desecrating the churches and the Holy Bible have been happening over the years in Pakistan. Therefore, these conditions in the homeland are compelling Christians to leave homeland. Due to these reasons a large number of Christians have left Pakistan and went to Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and other countries.
Rev Imtiaz Ullah who was a pastor of Church of Pakistan was facing life threats by extremist elements therefore he left Pakistan for saving his life
Evangelist Dennis Augustine Joseph who is a very active evangelist had to leave Pakistan and went abroad due to continuous life threats and attack on his house. He had been forced to convert from Christianity to Islam by extremist elements.
Kaleem Ullah, a well-known Christian social worker who opened many schools for Christians and other deserving students and Francis George Gill, a respected Christian journalist, also have left Pakistan due to continuous life threats from extremist elements.
The Pakistani Government, security agencies, and the establishment, should take immediate steps to provide protection to all Christians and especially Christian human rights defenders.
If we wish to develop our country and make Pakistan great and prosperous, we all should condemn extremism and terrorism, but also adopt tolerance rather than extremism. The country’s establishment should encourage open-minded and secular people, because these people have contributed much to Pakistan, and they can develop and make Pakistan great and prosperous, something we would like to see happen.
Christians, victim of Terrorism