Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
HVK Archives: Pak Christians protest against persecution

Pak Christians protest against persecution - The Observer

India Abroad News Service ()
18 February 1997

Title : Pak Christians protest against persecution
Author : India Abroad News Service
Publication : The Observer
Date : February 18, 1997

Over 100 Pakistani Christians gathered in front of the country's
Consulate to denounce the attack on three Christian enclaves in the
Pakistani district of Multan, earlier this month.

In a letter addressed to Pakistani President Farooq Legari, Mr
Shadab E Khokhar, President of the Canadian chapter of
International Christian Awaz, noted that his group, "With deep
sadness and anger must protest the savage attacks on the Christian
community of Khanewal, Bhuttabad and Santinagar on February 5 and
6, 1997."

Published reports said that two people were killed, 15 injured and
thousands left homeless as a result of the violence. Christians
constitute about 3 per cent of Pakistan's 130-million population.

"Coming just two days after Pakistan's national elections of
February 3, 1997, the attacks may be a portent of more dangerous
things to come," said Mr Khokhar.

"Pakistan's Christians are extremely fearful," he said, alluding to
the fact that the previous government of Pakistan Prime
Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif's Muslim League oversaw implementation
of an Islamic Constitution, setting the stage for the country's
infamous blasphemy law which grants death penalty to anyone found
guilty of blasphemy towards Islam or its Prophet Mohammed.

Mr Khokhar said that the Pakistani Christian population has long
maintained that the law is used by Muslim fanatics to harass them
and have asked for its repeal.

In the letter to President Legari, Mr Khokhar wrote "It is clear
that the law of Pakistan does not protect Christians but rather
targets them."

Mr Khokhar said the Christian population in the three areas fled
for their lives when the stick-wielding, stone-throwing mob beset
their enclaves, burnt and looted churches, a mission school and its
hostel, and number of shops and houses.

He said that about 80 members of their organisation met on February
9 to discuss the condition of Pakistani Christians. They concluded
that when the violence started, local Pakistani police "were
ineffective and the army was eventually called in to maintain law
and order," Mr Khokhar said.

About 30 members of International Christian Awaz also camped in
front of Queen's Park (seat of the Ontario provincial government)
in Toronto to bring to the notice of the provincial
parliamentarians the condition of Pakistani Christians.

"Christians are always treated as second-class people in Pakistan,"
Mr Khokhar claimed. Six members of the group, including
10-year-old Christopher Khokhar, were on hunger strike for a day.

When asked about the cause of the violence, Mr Khokhar said the
trouble erupted as a result of rumours that Christians had torn
pages from the Islamic holy book, Koran.

Speakers at the meeting in Toronto urged the Canadian government to
investigate and protest the latest incident of religious
persecution in Pakistan.

The Canadian chapter of International Christian Awaz has demanded
that the blasphemy law be repealed and the Pakistani government
repair all the churches destroyed during the recent violence.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements