The Christian community in Lahore continues its desperate protests over the bulldozing conducted several days ago by the Lahore Development Authority of a school, a church and the ‘Gosha-e-Aman’ home for old people. The land on which the buildings stood had been on lease to the Catholic Church since 1887. The lease was not automatically renewed in 1987 and the matter is before the court. Christian leaders, including the Bishop of Lahore, Alexander John Malik accuse the Punjab government of seeking to seize the highly valuable two acres of land which stood in Garhi Shahu in the heart of Lahore. Minority leaders have strongly denied the claims made by the Punjab Minorities Minister, Kamran Michael, that the land had been taken over by a land mafia. He stated this was simply an excuse to take possession of property.
While Christian groups have been protesting fervently — joined by nuns from various convents in the city — only a handful of activists from mainstream Muslim so..... Read More
PML-Q MPA Shahzad Elahi, from Begumpura, passionately took to the floor of the Punjab Assembly on Friday. The Christian MPA was incensed at the government’s insensitivity in encroaching on lands belonging to churches.
In recent months, he said, the government had taken over and sealed off four churches in Lahore, forcibly evicting the tenants.
Gosha-i-Amn in Garhi Shahu had been in the possession of the Catholic church of Pakistan since 1887, Elahi said. On January 10, the police and district administration ordered the tenants, including chapel staff, an elderly home residents and the staff of a convent school, to leave.
According to Elahi, and some Christian organisations in the city, the government wanted to establish a trust on that property in the name of Kulsoom Nawaz, wife of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
The speaker did not seem impressed by the MPA’s passionate speech and turned o..... Read More
By Abdul Manan in The Express Tribune, Jan 20
LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League –Quaid (PML-Q) MPA Shahzad Elahi, speaking during the Punjab Assembly session on Friday, said the province had become a ‘living hell’ for minorities.
Elahi, who has been elected on a non-Muslim minority seat, said that the government of Punjab had made the demolition of churches its mission. He condemned the demolition of a 20 kanal portion of a church located in Garhi Shahu.
He said that the white on Pakistan’s flag gave minorities the right to live peacefully and speak for themselves.
The MPA said that the Bible had been desecrated during the demolition and the glasses of the church had also been smashed. The MPA termed January 10 “the darkest day in the history of Pakistan”, and said that Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had also given surety that the rights and property of the minorities would be protected in the country.
Elahi was cut short b..... Read More
While much attention has been focused on political tsunamis and realignments, a crisis has been brewing in Islamabad. The matter of the so-called memo allegedly sent on behest of President Zardari to Admiral Mullen is reaching a climax of sorts.
The whistle blower is one Mansoor ijaz, not the most trustworthy of interlocutors, who once absurdly claimed to be a major player in solving the Kashmir dispute. His conceits too are painful, claiming in one TV programme not to understand Urdu, though his parents migrated from Pakistan, and thrusting his American citizenship like a dagger in the anchors face.
Yet the BlackBerry phone messages he has come up with are a damning piece of evidence. The high level Pakistani diplomat communicating with him is alleged to be none other than our ambassador in the US, Hussain Haqqani. This has blown open a can of worms and there will be consequences.
Haqqani has been summoned back to Islamabad or, as he asserts, invited for consultat..... Read More
STRASBOURG: The European parliament on Thursday urged Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to pardon and release Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam.
In a resolution adopted by the 736-seat assembly, the parliamentarians asked “the Pakistani authorities to free Asia Bibi immediately” and urged Zardari “to use his constitutional authority to pardon her.”
The 45-year-old mother-of-five was sentenced to death in November after Muslim women labourers who worked with her in the fields complained she made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed.
The European parliamentarians also called on “the Pakistani government once again for a sweeping revision of blasphemy laws and their application.”
The resolution also refers to the January 4 assassination of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who was shot dead by a police commando after calling for reform of the blasphemy law used to sentence Bibi to death.
His o..... Read More
LAHORE: The Mall saw yet another rally on Monday organised by Tahaffuz Namoos-i-Risalat Mahaz (TNRM). Several speakers at the rally lauded Mumtaz Qadri, the confessed killer of Governor Salmaan Taseer, and warned the courts of stiff reprimand if any order was passed against him.
Most shops and offices on The Mall were closed during the four hours the rally took to make its way from Data Darbar to the Governor’s House.
TNRM, a coalition of eight Sunni parties, organised the rally to pay tributes to the police guard who shot Taseer dead on January 4.
Speakers said there could be no punishment for Qadri and demanded his early release. TNRM vice president Dr Ashraf Jalali, who led the rally, told the participants that if Qadri was punished they would hold a long march to Islamabad and snatch all those responsible for it out of their offices. Jalali also issued a warning to the media not to extend invitations to those who criticised Qadri or spoke in favour of amendin..... Read More
The case of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman, convicted of blasphemy against the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and sentenced to death, has provoked a storm which seems to have gained strength only after Punjab Governor Salman Taseer visited her in jail, and though the visit itself raised a number of questions, it also highlighted the fact that the case has highlighted the blasphemy law, and its place in the present reality of Pakistan. The controversy caused by various aspects of the case has led to its being quoted by the Sunni Ittehad Council in its Rawalpindi-Lahore Long March, as well as to the restraint placed on the President by the Lahore High Court against Aasia Bibi’s release.
The latter order might provide one clue as to the reason for the prominence of the case, the element of extension of the extraterritoriality already apparently granted to the US citizens in Pakistan to non-Muslim Pakistanis, particularly Christians. Those fearing Aasia Bibi being taken abroad are relying on p..... Read More
LANDI KOTAL, April 15: Christian Awareness and Development Society (CADS), Khyber Agency, has appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo motu action against ‘inhuman, unlawful and discriminatory’ behaviour meted out to the Christian community in tribal areas.
In an open letter to the CJP, chairman CADS Arshad Masih argued they had been living in parts of Fata since 1914 but were not treated as equal citizens of the country as is enshrined under Article 25 of the constitution.
The letter, a copy of which was also provided to Dawn, bemoaned that despite living in tribal areas for nearly 100 years, Christians were denied the domicile of Fata and were issued only a resident certificate.
“The resident certificate does not entitle the Christians to have share in job quota and admissions in professional educational institutions”, the letter stated. It said that Christians were only employed as sweepers in various government institutions.
The lett..... Read More
Interfaith harmony: Edit in The Dawn, Oct 3
POPE Benedict urged President Zardari on Thursday to guarantee the safety of Pakistan’s Christian communities and to curtail the violence perpetrated against them. A statement issued subsequently by the Vatican said that the talks focussed on “elements that have favoured such incidents.” This is understood as a reference to groups that appear to have exploited Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code — the infamous blasphemy law.
The Pope’s exhortation is an indication of growing international concern about violence against Pakistani Christians. This summer alone, the country has seen two highly-publicised cases: the Gojra tragedy and the death in custody of young Fanish Masih. In the former case, government officials said at the time that the violence may have been the work of banned religious or sectarian outfits. Masih’s death was passed off as ‘suicide’.
There are two threads of concern here. First, ..... Read More
ISLAMABAD: Members of the Christian community clashed with security personnel on Wednesday at the funeral of a Christian man who, police said, hanged himself in jail where he was held after being accused of defiling the holy Quran. Some Christian leaders allege he was murdered.
The clashes – just weeks after eight Christians were burned to death by a mob – are a reminder of the tensions simmering among Christians in the country. Fanish Masih was found dead on Tuesday in his prison cell in Sialkot.
Jail Superintendent Farooq Lodhi said the 19-year-old hanged himself using the draw string that held up his pants. The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), a Catholic-led advocacy group, called the death an “extra-judicial murder” and demanded an investigation.
Under progress: Lodhi denied any crime had been committed, adding that an autopsy was being conducted. According to the NCJP, Masih was accused of throwing a chapter of the Quran down a drain l..... Read More