VOICE OF VOICELESS 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Press Release
International Christian Voice Canada celebrated the 45th Birthday of Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti on Monday, September 9, 2013 at the Terry Miller Recreational Centre in Brampton. The program started with the MC, Asher Khokhar, Secretary of ICV, welcoming all guests in attendance. Dr. Rev. Rashid Gill said the opening prayer and reflected on the life of Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti and his sacrifice to promote human rights and equality in Pakistan.
 Mrs. Jacqueline Yousif and Mr. Yousif Nishan shared their memories with their brother and spoke of the precious moments they had with Shahbaz Bhatti on his birthday. Pastor Raj Dass also reflected on the life of Shahbaz Bhatti and spoke of his bravery and courageousness while fighting for religious freedom.
 A tribute video created by Shahbaz Bhatti's niece, Nitasha Bhatti, was shown, highlighting his life's achievements. Mr. Javed Iqbal, a famous poet of the community, reflected on Shahbaz Bhatti's life through his poetry. Mr. Asher Habib and Mr. Jim Walker spoke of the inspiration they received from Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti and remembered his many achievements.
 Mr. Tanveer Joseph, Vice Chairman (community Affairs) of ICV, shared his personal memories with Shahbaz Bhatti and spoke of the encouragement and motivation he received through their meetings. The newly arrived family of Rimsha Masih also participated in the event and paid tribute to Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti while thanking ICV and Canadian government for their continued support. ICV executive members Mr. Tanveer Joseph, Mr. Naeem Akther, Mr. Asher Khokhar, Rev. Dr. Rashid Gill, Mr. Max Gill, Mrs. Eliza Charles, Mr. George Ghulam, Mr. Qamar Andreas, Mrs. Basanti Massey and Mr. Dilawar Pelwan all recommitted to continue the legacy of Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti. 
ICV Chairman Peter Bhatti gave a briefing on the reasons religious minorities have been marginalized throughout history through undemocratic forces and military dictatorships. He said Shahbaz Bhatti, from his childhood, stood against this discrimination and wanted to bring equality to all citizens of Pakistan regardless of caste, creed or religion. He also recommitted to carry the responsibilities and legacy of Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti to fulfill his mission along with his team. The scholarships given to five deserving students in Pakistan through the Shahbaz Bhatti legacy fund were announced by Mr. Bhatti shortly thereafter.
Honorable M.P Joe Daniel, who was the chief guest of the event, shared his thoughts and stressed for the community to continue the legacy of Shahbaz Bhatti and appreciated the efforts of ICV in promoting human rights and religious freedom.
Many organization leaders, church leaders and community members also participated in the event and celebreated the life of Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti. Pastor Samuel Gori said the closing prayer after sharing his thoughts and encouraged the members of ICV to continue their struggle while assuring his support. The event ended with a cake cutting ceremony by the ICV executive members and MP Joe Daniel.

Minority’s Day, 11th August, 2013

Organized by: International Christian Voice (ICV)

Chandani Garden Banquet Hall, 335 Deerhurst Dr, Brampton, Ontario,Canada

Tanveer Joseph, vice chairman (community affairs) welcomed the distinguished guests and while explaining the details of the event, he laid emphasis that Minority’s Day is the day which is based upon the historic speech of Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who categorically advocated for a secular Pakistan and wanted separation of religion and state. This day is always referred to as a day which speaks for religious minorities throughout history. Through the tireless efforts of martyr Shahbaz Bhatti, this day was dedicated to be Minority’s Day. Today, religious minorities of Pakistan have the opportunity to express their feelings through rallies, seminars, conferences and workshops (if possible). Furthermore, this is the day when religious minorities with their likeminded friends from the majority community can plan activities for the rest of the year so that majority and minority community can go hand in hand and can increase social harmony while illustrating brotherhood in the country.

 Raja Harrison, Max Gill and Phillip Patrick sung milli songs (patriotic songs), which were appreciated by the participants.

The speakers expressed solidarity and together wanted to promote brotherhood and unity in Pakistan; so that growing intolerance, extremism, terrorism and killings could be stopped.

Tahir Gora, a renowned journalist was of the view that we should stick to those values which keep us together through various cords. Language is one of such cords, which ties in strong relationship.

Saleem Shiekh expressed his cordial love and honor for ICV, as they are making all efforts to keep our ties strong with Pakistan by organizing different programs related to Pakistan.

Minister Bal Gosal appreciated the efforts of ICV and encouraged Peter Bhatti to continue the good work for promoting brotherhood and solidarity with brothers and sisters in Canada and Pakistan. He also mentioned his strong ties earlier with martyr Shahbaz Bhatti and now with Peter Bhatti. He further expressed that he is impressed by the passion of martyr Shahbaz Bhatti for his people and country, Pakistan. He welcomed all participants as this program was hosted in his riding.

Natasha Bhatti, while explaining the contribution of non-Muslims in the fields of education, she said that there was a time, even still now one finds many Christian mission educational institutes are listed among best educational institutes in the country. These schools and colleges produced many leaders of the country and if one lists leading businessmen, army officers/commanders, bureaucrats etc. then one will find majority of such are educated from mission institutes. Thus their contribution can never be ignored in development of Pakistan.

Haroon Nasir gave a brief review of contribution of non-Muslims in general life. He further explained that how non-Muslims are taking pains for developing a harmonious society. He was of the view that today’s Pakistan need efforts and struggle of each and every Pakistani. Therefore, brain-drain should be stopped and all citizens of Pakistan should take part in development of the country and to counter terrorism/extremism, the anti-Pakistan element should not followed at any cost. One should try that peace, forgiveness and love should prevail in social life so that our country should really become a living example of heaven on this earth.

Peter Bhatti, Chairman ICV explained in detail the sufferings of Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan and he also explained the sacrifice of his brother Shahbaz Bhatti, is not for only one sect or religion, rather it is for whole nation;. He further expressed, that we find a long list of sacrifices and services of Christians in Pakistan, he assured that even today, all Christians and other religious minorities are serving the country and are ready to work for the nation at any level. He appreciated the previous government for implementing 5% quota in jobs; allocating 4 seats in senate for non-Muslims; declared 11th August as national Minority’s Day; and fixing special prayer rooms for non-Muslim prisoners. As there are various things to appreciate in Pakistan, there are also few things which needs to be eliminated in order to transform the society into a humanitarian society. Taking the opportunity, Peter Bhatti demanded that, government should take measures to stop the wrong use of blasphemy law 295 B and C and other discriminatory laws, which is basic right of minorities according to the vision of Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and bring in justice to those who are responsible for this violence. Religious minorities may once again given the chance to appoint as President; Prime Minister; Chief of Army Staff and Chief Justice.

 He strongly demanded that the religious minorities should be given their right to elect their representatives on their own. In this regard right of dual vote may be given to religious minorities, so that they remain part of the streamline politics and at the same time also decide for their own fate.

We demand denationalization of all Christian mission educational institutes and restoration of the Ministry of interfaith harmony. At the end he prayed for the prosperity of Pakistan and wished that the marginalized Communities of Pakistan may also grow and God may keep them safe from all types of discrimination, injustices and inequalities.

He ended his speech saying, that despite all problems and discrimination religious minorities are loyal and patriotic.

Dr. James Shara sent his massage from England and said this day was formally adopted by the Govt. of Pakistan under the leadership of our great leader Shaheed Shahbaz Bhatti when he was the Federal Minister of Pakistan. “I salute all of you who are committed to pursue Shahbaz's mission who devoted his life for justice, human rights and interfaith harmony for all. This was the dream of our Quaid Mr M .A. Jinah. I value and support Peter and Paul Bhatti for their commitments and devotion to Shaheed Shahbaz’s mission and Pakistan. Long live Pakistan.”

Counsel General, Mr. Nafees Zakria, paid tribute to martyr Shahbaz Bhatti who laid his life for uplifting humanity and brotherhood in Pakistan; he was instrumental for this day. He also appreciated the Christian community in Canada, who continue to organize programs to support brothers and sisters. He further said that ‘minority’ could be seen as a derogatory term; people of all religions in Pakistan are part of Pakistan as equal citizens. No one can take away this right from them. He stressed that there are cords of disunity, which we all need to address effectively so that those sad incidents happening there should not continue. He assured Peter Bhatti that all demands have been noted and he will move forward to the government of Pakistan, Islamabad along with the warm feelings expressed in this program. Furthermore, he extended an invitation for Pakistan Day and hoped that most of the friends from Christian Community will come to celebrate the event.

Honorable MP Bob Decker said Shahbaz Bhatti was the person who inspired Canadians a lot. This is not just one, two or three people here; he said with full confidence that Honourable Prime Minister Stephan Harper and Minister Jason Kenny are much inspired; the office of the religious freedom, Canada is the example of such friendship and inspiration. This is the long story of good friendship, love and prosperity. He further expressed his support to the cause Shahbaz Bhatti fought for.

Honourable MP Brad Butt endorsed what MP Bob Decker said. He assured his full support for developing love, peace and brotherhood. He appreciated the role of ICV for their struggling in Canada and Pakistan.

Towards the end, MC Tanveer Joseph thanked all participants and community for supporting the cause for which ICV stands for and assured that this support would continue to enhance the community here in Canada and would continue serving in Canada and Pakistan.

In closing, Peter Bhatti thanked the community members, especially present there to celebrate Minority’s Day and he also thanked his team whom he invited in front and appreciated their support and love.

Pictures on Minorities Day Sunday August 11, 2013



News links 
Pakistan's minorities day celebrated in Brampton Sunday
Friday, 09 August 2013 08:09
Peter Bhatti, founder and chairman of International Christian Voice Canada
Peter Bhatti, founder and chairman of International Christian Voice Canada- Register file photo

TORONTO - International Christian Voice Canada will be celebrating Pakistan's National Minorities Day in Brampton, Ont., this Sunday.

“This is a reminder and a recognition of the services of our brothers in Pakistan,” said Peter Bhatti, founder and chairman of International Christian Voice Canada. “We want to give the message that we should be united and due to interfaith dialogue we can make a difference in Pakistan.”

Held at Chandni Garden Banquet Hall, the event begins at 11:30 a.m. and runs until 2:30 p.m.

This is the fourth year the Pakistani event has been celebrated in Canada and Bhatti is calling on Canadians to support efforts to end discrimination against minorities in Pakistan.

“We ask for you to support us to make a culture where people will not hate one another,” said Bhatti, who came to Canada from Pakistan in 1997.

He continued by saying that Christians in Pakistan, an overwhelmingly Muslim state, “are living in fear ... because of the extremism and intolerance that is going on and created day by day.”

His younger brother Shahbaz, who founded International Christian Voice's global entity, fought diligently for the safety of religious minorities in Pakistan. Through these efforts the younger Bhatti became Pakistan's first Christian member of parliament and was Federal Minister of Minorities before being assassinated on March 2, 2011 for his political stance. Among the issues Shahbaz Bhatti fought for was the reform of blasphemy laws which are frequently abused to settle disputes and rivalries which stem from issues unrelated to religion.

Even if there isn't a conviction the accusations alone can cause social exile, especially if the accused isn't Muslim.

While Shahbaz Bhatti's assassination as a high profile political figure made international news, the elder brother said it is but one example of countless Christians who continue to suffer oppression each year in Pakistan.

And that's exactly what International Christian Voice, a human rights advocacy group, is trying to curb by raising support through events like this.

“My brother sacrificed his life for the people around the world,” said Bhatti. “Religion doesn't have any business of the state. Everyone should be free to practise their faith.”

Bhatti was expecting somewhere between 150 and 200 people to attend the event.

August 11: Minorities day event moved to Canada

August 8, 2013

Former state minister for interfaith harmony Akram Masih, Chairman All Pakistan Minorities’ Alliance Dr Paul Bhatti

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Christian community will not celebrate National Minorities Day falling on August 11, community leaders said.

The International Christian Voice (ICV) is celebrating the Minorities Day in Canada where leaders of minorities from Pakistan will participate, they said.

The leaders will present a paper on how minorities are being targeted by the extremists in Pakistan, they said.

The government had declared August 11 as minorities’ day in 2009 by the efforts of then minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti who was shot dead in the country’s capital in 2011.

The day signifies Quaid-e-Azam’s speech to Constituent Assembly on August 11 1947 in which he had said, “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

Former state minister for interfaith harmony Akram Masih said the present day Pakistan is a far cry from the secular beginning the founder of the nation had given. The government is in no mood of celebrating minorities’ day, Masih said.

However, Information Minister Pervez Rashid said that the day was falling during Eid holidays.

“Though Pakistan is going through a testing time—but minorities are on our priority list,” he told The Express Tribune.

He criticised the way Dr Paul Bhatti and Akram Masih were portraying the picture of minorities’ rights in Pakistan. “They [Bhatti and Masih] represent their party [PPP] that is why they are politicising the matter,” said the information minister.

Dr Paul Bhatti, Chairperson All Pakistan Minorities’ Alliance said the minorities have been ignored by the current government. “We had been celebrating minorities’ day in President House since 2011—but this time things are otherwise,” he said. Minorities form 2% of the total population of 180 million in Pakistan where around four million Hindus and 2.9 million Christians live.

August 11 was not only a day where Christians were especially made part of the whole nation, but a clear and wider picture was given to the members of the Constituent Assembly, Bhatti said.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2013.

Posted on Aug 8, 2013

Grievous Persecution in Pakistan

Interview with Peter Bhatti

President, International Christian Voice

Venn: What are the blasphemy laws and how do they impact religious minorities in Pakistan?

Bhatti: Pakistan’s blasphemy laws can be found in several sections of Pakistan’s Criminal Code. Section 295, forbids damaging or defiling a place of worship or a sacred object. Section 295-A, forbids the deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs. Section 295-B deals with the defiling of the Holy Quran. This section reads as follows:

Whoever willfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Quran or of an extract there from or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable with imprisonment for life.

Section 295-C, forbids the use of derogatory remarks, etc.; in respect of the Holy Prophet. It says that whoever by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Mohammed shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

Many times these laws are used to falsely accuse innocent religious minorities of Pakistan due to personal or property disputes. Many times due to these laws villages and houses along with people have been burned alive. People have been falsely accused and put into prison and women have been raped and forced to convert.
Venn: Your brother, Shahbaz Bhatti, was an outspoken critic of the blasphemy law and a dedicated advocate to increase religious freedom and equality for all Pakistanis. He was a powerful witness living for his faith by encouraging reform of the blasphemy laws and by speaking out on behalf of Asia Bibi (a Christian woman even though he knew it might cost his life. How has your brother’s martyrdom impacted the religious minority community in Pakistan and can you share any update on Asia Bibi?
Bhatti: Pakistan was created as a progressive and democratic state, which was the vision of the founding father of Pakistan, Qauid- Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Jinnah wanted to have a free and equal state regardless of one’s caste creed or religion. My brother Shahbaz Bhatti wanted to see Pakistan as Jinnah’s Pakistan where everyone would be treated equally. He was against all discriminatory laws, which divided the people of Pakistan. After his death, the religious minorities of Pakistan felt as though they were orphaned. They had lost their voice. My other brother Paul Bhatti then took his place to continue fighting for the rights of the religious minorities. The religious minorities of Pakistan accepted him as their new leader who would fight for them as Shahbaz Bhatti did. Asia Bibi is still in jail and waiting for her trail. So far we are not very hopeful with her case and there are no signs of her leaving prison. She needs continuous prayers.

Venn: Can you give us an update on Rimsha Masih and her family now that they have relocated to Canada?

Bhatti: Rimsha along with her parents, brother and sister came to Canada about six months ago. International Christian Voice had the privilege of welcoming them to Canada and taking care of all their needs while integrating them into the Canadian society. Rimsha along with her brother and sister are attending school and their parents also attending school to learn English. They are feeling secure and safe here in Canada and are happy with their new lives. Rimsha is also receiving appropriate medical treatment for her mental illness.

Venn: Minority women and girls suffer disproportionately from religious persecution. Can you explain why that is and what life is like for Christian, Hindu, Shia, and other minority women?

Bhatti: Religious minorities of Pakistan are already considered second class citizens of Pakistan and what makes a second class citizen drop even lower to a third class citizen is if she is a woman. A religious minority woman would need 4 witnesses against 1 Muslim man. Along with that most women belong to very poor households and lack education. Hence, they work very low class jobs such as working in the homes of wealthy Muslim families. Often times due to their terrible circumstances, these women are sold into slavery and are trafficked. The forceful conversion of religious minority women is also increasing day by day in Pakistan.

Venn: Do you think the situation for religious minorities is likely to improve or change under the newly elected Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif?

Bhatti: As of right now I do not see any positive steps taken for the religious minorities of Pakistan by the new government. One of the first things the new government did was get rid of the Ministry of Interfaith and Harmony. Now there is no platform on which religious minorities of Pakistan can properly raise their voice or highlight their issues.

Venn: What are you commemorating on Minority Day in Pakistan?

Bhatti: On August 11, 1947, the founder of Pakistan Quaid e Azam Mohmmed Ali Jinnah addressed his first constituent assembly by saying:

You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state.

In the year 2009, my brother Shahbaz Bhatti due to this speech got August 11th officially recognized as Minority Day in Pakistan. On this day, Pakistan is reminded of the great sacrifices the religious minorities of Pakistan gave in order to build a prosperous Pakistan. It also reminds Pakistanis that religious minorities were given equal rights in Pakistan by the founding father and therefore should not be treated as second-class citizens. On this day we remember the religious minorities’ efforts in the development of Pakistan. It was Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti’s desire that the minorities of Pakistan be given a day of special recognition where we can celebrate and honor their great sacrifices.

Venn: What is International Christian Voice and what types of initiatives do you pursue to improve religious freedom in Pakistan?

Bhatti: International Christian Voice is a human rights organization working to highlight the plight of the religious minorities of Pakistan. We do this by arranging international conferences, speaking to government officials worldwide, holding annual events to update people about the circumstances of religious minorities of Pakistan and we partner with other advocacy groups and human rights organization to ensure that there is something being done about the human rights issues facing the religious minorities of Pakistan.

Venn: Canada has a newly appointed Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Andrew Bennett. What should his office and the Canadian government be doing to promote religious freedom in Pakistan?

Bhatti: The office was created after the assassination of Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti. The Prime Minister of Canada, Rt.Hon. Stephen Harper was so touched by the assassination of Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti that he felt it was important for Canada to begin monitoring human rights violations based on religion around the world. The office should be monitoring human rights violations in Pakistan and continue to update the government of Canada so that the government can take the appropriate steps necessary to stop the violations. It should call specific attention towards cases of victimization and persecution that take place against the religious minorities of Pakistan.

Venn: What role does U.S. foreign aid play in Pakistan and is generally helpful or harmful for democratization and human rights?

Bhatti: It would be helpful only if it were being monitored properly and the money was used towards uplifting the country, however, majority of the time the aid is used by the wrong people and it further increases extremism in Pakistan.

Venn: How can individuals and organizations learn more about your work and connect with you?

Bhatti: They can learn more about us through visiting our website at or emailing us at

Press release,

On July 18th, 2013, the U.S Commission of International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) arranged a forum to discuss the future of religious freedom in Pakistan. Delegates and representatives from human rights and different faiths communities attended this event to share their thoughts on the future of Pakistan’s religious freedom. Members in attendance represented the Christian, Hindu, Ammadhiyya, and Shia communities. The program started at 1:30 with opening remarks from Mr. Knox Thames in which he introduced the role of the USCIRF and provided a briefing of the event.


Mr. Shuja Nawaz, Director of the South Asia Center, Atlantic Council also gave opening remarks and spoke of the general problems and challenges Pakistan is facing today.

Mr. Peter Bhatti, Chairman of International Christian Voice, shared his thoughts on behalf of the Christians of Pakistan. He stated that Pakistan was created as a progressive and democratic state which was the vision of the founding father of Pakistan, Qauid- Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Jinnah wanted to have a free and equal state regardless of caste creed or religion which he stated on his first constituent assembly speech on August 11, 1947.

He added that the commendable services of Christians along with our Muslim brothers are significant in the history of the independence movement of Pakistan. Christians have played a vital role in different fields of society including the areas of health, education, defense, and social welfare.

Furthermore, Mr. Bhatti said that after the death of the founding father, Pakistan was ruled by undemocratic and military dictators who used religion to prolong their rule, and discriminatory laws such as Blasphemy law, Hudood ordinances, law of evidence and other discriminatory laws were promulgated into the constitution of Pakistan.

He added that Pro Taliban al Qaeda and extremist religious organizations were encouraged by the existence of such stated laws and they used these laws to persecute, victimize, terrorize, and discriminate against the Christians and other religious minorities of Pakistan. He said that these discriminatory laws are not only against the minorities but also go against the vision of the founding father Qauid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Mr. Bhatti said that the blasphemy law is a tool in the hands of extremist to persecute the religious minorities of Pakistan. He said most of the time, extremists use these laws to settle personal disputes, economic, political, religious or other reason, and Christians are even being killed in prison. Christians feel insecure and fearful in their motherland.

Mr. Bhatti presented examples of the persecution Christians in Pakistan have faced in recent times including the case of Asia Bibi, Rimsha Masih, and the riots over the blasphemy law that saw villages destroyed and people burned alive.

He then presented suggestions and recommendations to the USCIRF that would help the situation of the minorities of Pakistan and increase religious freedom in Pakistan. Among these recommendations included the development of education and health systems as well as the empowerment of vulnerable minorities and the role of the government and human rights organizations.

Mr. Qasim Rashid, National Spokesperson, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, highlighted the problems the Ahmadiyya community is facing in Pakistan. He said the Ahmadiyaa community is facing problems institutionally and constitutionally. He presented several examples of the persecution faced by this community.

Mr. Rahat Husain, Policy and Legal Affairs, Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA) highlighted the issues the Shia community has been facing in Pakistan in recent years. He said that members of the Shia community are being murdered in Pakistan and that this needs to end. He urged the government of Pakistan to take concrete steps to stop the killing of Shia Muslims in Pakistan.

Mr. Jay Kansara, Associate Director, Hindu American Foundation, represented the Hindu community and said that forceful conversions and rape of Hindu women is very common in Pakistan. He stressed that such crimes should be stopped and that Hindu’s in Pakistan are in need of empowerment.

After all speakers had presented their thoughts, there was a question and answer period in which all speakers gave clear and concise answers to all questions. Following all answers, the program was ended. Mr. Knox thanked everyone for participating and joining the event.

Charisma News

Pakistani Christians Angered by ‘Sweeper’ Comment 

Christian sweepers remove water from the road after rain in Lahore

Christian sweepers remove water from the road after rain in Lahore. (World Watch Monitor)

Pakistani Christians have been angered by a statement by the chief minister of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that only “non-Muslims will be recruited as sweepers.”The province, known for short as KPK, borders Afghanistan. Its chief minister, Pervez Khattak, who is in former international cricketer Imran Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), says that he was quoted out of context and misinterpreted.
Khattak denied that he intended anything derogatory. He said he was only responding to minorities’ concerns over access to jobs they have traditionally taken now being denied by applicants who claim that as Muslims they cannot do “unclean” jobs anyway.Nevertheless, the Christians’ anger (sparked when a local Urdu channel, Capital TV, reported the statement) went viral and has hit national headlines because it highlights long-entrenched discriminatory practices rooted in the Indian subcontinent’s history and still faced by Pakistan’s Christians and low-caste Hindus.
Christians took Khattak’s remark to be deeply offensive, with many saying that it showed the “true” stance of PTI, whose election slogan in May was “Justice, Humanity and Self-Esteem.”Khattak is PTI’s first-ever provincial chief minister. In May, PTI surprisingly won the militancy-hit northwestern KPK and now runs its first coalition government there.
Christians are the main minority in Pakistan, although a small number of Hindus and Sikhs also live there. Hence, Christians took the chief minister’s statement as a direct reference to them, although others add that non-Pashtun ethnic groups, such as Persian-speaking Hazaras, might also have been implicated.
As the Christian community took offense, the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Napoleon Qayyum on July 11 filed a petition for an apology in the Lahore high court. The petitioner made Khattak and the two Capital TV talk-show hosts parties to the “offensive statement.”
Albert David, chairman of the Pakistan United Christian Movement, asks how Khattak could say that Muslims are not eligible for sweepers’ jobs and that only members of the minority communities could perform this task.“Whatever the context, it is very insensitive to say that the jobs of sweeping would only be given to minorities,” he says.Article 27 (1) of the Constitution of Pakistan says, “No citizen otherwise qualified for appointment in the service of Pakistan shall be discriminated against in respect of any such appointment on the ground only of race, religion, caste, sex, residence or place of birth.”

Paul Bhatti speaks at Vatican rally, meets pope

VATICAN CITY, May 18:2013 Pope Francis toured St Peter’s Square to greet tens of thousands of people attending a rally of prayer, music and speeches on Saturday, and he embraced the brother of a Pakistani politician who was assassinated after calling for greater religious freedom for Christians.

Riding in an open-topped white jeep, Francis zipped through the square to greet the faithful who had been waiting for hours for his arrival at the evening rally designed to encourage Catholics to strengthen their faith.The Vatican estimated the crowd at 200,000.

Francis also embraced Paul Bhatti, a speaker at the rally. His brother Shahbaz, a Pakistani government minister, was assassinated in 2011 after urging reform of the blasphemy laws.—AP

	Pope Francis embraces Paul Bhatti, brother of the assassinated member of the Pakistani National Assembly Shahbaz Bhatti, on the occasion of a Pentecostal  vigil in St. Peter Square at the Vatican, Saturday, May 18, 2013. Pope Francis embraces Paul Bhatti, brother of the assassinated member of the Pakistani National Assembly Shahbaz Bhatti, on the occasion of a Pentecostal  vigil in St. Peter Square at the Vatican, Saturday, May 18, 2013.Pope Francis embraces Paul Bhatti, brother of the assassinated member of the Pakistani National Assembly Shahbaz Bhatti, on the occasion of a Pentecostal  vigil in St. Peter Square at the Vatican, Saturday, May 18, 2013.

05/19/2013 15:09
Pope to Movements: man is in crisis. No to a church closed in on itself, but a Church that goes out,
At the Vigil for Pentecost, Pope Francis pushes Christian witness in a world that has become the enemy of man, where the collapse of financial markets makes the news, but not the death of workers or child hunger. A great event for the Year of Faith, 200 thousand people are present: from CL and Renewal in the Spirit, to the Neocatechumenal Way, Focolare, Sant'Egidio, international associations. The testimony of John Waters, an Irish journalist, and Paul Bhatti, former minister for minorities in Pakistan. The Pope invites all to pray every day for persecuted Christians and to work for religious freedom. The Church is not an efficient NGO. Her main contribution is "to live the Gospel."

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Today mankind is in crisis, this is why the current crisis is a profound one". This is also why we must not isolate ourselves "in the parish, among friends, in our movement, with those who think like us ...". "The Church must go out to the suburbs of existence itself." These are just two of the most important emergencies that Pope Francis suggested to the New Movements, associations, communities that travelled to Rome for the May 18 vigil and the Mass of Pentecost on May 19. The Pope responded extemporaneously to four questions that were addressed to him, in which he recalled having received the faith in his family, from his grandmother, pointed out that the Church "is not an NGO," but the bearer of Jesus Christ; that to awaken the materialistic world to the faith personal witness is necessary, that in our present world falling stack markets are considered "a tragedy", while the fall (and death) of workers, or starvation, or difficulties of the poor cause little interest.

The vigil was held in St. Peter's Square packed with at least 200 thousand people, with a crowd that overflowed along Via della Conciliazione. Francis emerged at 17.30 for a long tour through the crowds on his jeep, greeting and kissing babies, surrounded by a forest of banners, caps, scarves, placards, cries of "Fran-cis! Fran-cis." Later the Pope corrected them ("fraternally, though!"): "From now on you have to say: Jesus, Jesus Jesus!" and the crowd obeyed.
The prayer vigil was attended by at least 150 movements, associations and new communities: including Communion and Liberation, the Focolare Movement, the Neocatechumenal Way, Sant'Egidio, Renewal in the Spirit and many groups from Europe, America, Asia and Africa . The appointment was fixed as part of the celebrations for the Year of Faith, with the title "I believe! Increase our faith." Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, introducing the time, said that the impetus for this oceanic gathering "is to find the most appropriate and consistent way to live and witness to the Gospel in today's world."

After two readings taken from St Paul's Letter to the Romans and the treatise of St. Irenaeus, there were two testimonies. John Waters, an Irish journalist, spoke of his leaving the faith, in search of a freedom that "makes us feel all-powerful and deeply powerless," typical man of today who "seeks to dominate everything and that's why he feels isolated and alone" . He then recalled his descent ("to his knees") into alcoholism, from which he was saved thanks to some friends who helped him rediscover the faith of his childhood. Now, he concluded "I am not only John, but one with the One who created me and I could not be free in any other way."
The other testimony was that of Paul Bhatti, former minister for minorities in Pakistan, who thanked Pope Francis for being able to "share the pain and hopes of the Christians of Pakistan." He recalled the mission of his brother Shahbaz, who was killed by Islamic extremists March 2, 2011, his commitment to the poor, the marginalized, the weak who "are the body of the persecuted Christ." At the same time, his brother never stopped dreaming of "a Pakistan free and open to all communities and minorities", in dialogue with Muslims, who "bear witness to the love of Jesus."

Four representatives from the Movements then addressed their questions to Pope Francis. The pontiff, who had previously read the questions, gave an unscripted response, apologizing at the end that he was "too long". The dialogue lasted for at least 40 minutes.
To the first question, "how did you achieve a certainty of faith in your life?" the Pope responded by recalling the religious education he received from his grandmother,
from whom "I first heard the Christian proclamation ... All mothers and grandmothers transmit the faith. God puts people alongside us who help us in the faith. "We say that we must seek God, go to Him to ask for forgiveness ... but when we go, He is waiting for us, He is the first one there...This creates wonder in the heart of those who do not believe, and this is how faith grows! It is important to study. But that alone is not enough! The important thing is our encounter with Jesus. Fragility's biggest enemy curiously enough, is fear. But do not be afraid! Faith grows with the Lord, out of the very hands of the Lord. And that makes us grow and makes us stronger". And referring again to the importance of mothers in the transmission of faith Francis concludes: "The one thing that makes me stronger every day is to pray the Rosary to Our Lady. I feel great strength because I go to her and I feel strong".

Una donna insegnante parla del materialismo banale in cui sono immersi i suoi studenti e gli altri insegnanti. E domanda: "Qual è la cosa più importante per attuare il compito a cui siamo chiamati? Come possiamo comunicare in modo efficace la fede nel mondo di oggi?".A woman teacher speaks of trivial materialism in which her students and other teachers are immersed. And she asks: "What is the most important thing that we must do to carry out the task to which we are called and how can we effectively communicate the faith in the world today?".
The most important thing - said the pope - is Jesus. Organization, things to do ... alone are not enough. Jesus is the most important thing .... Evangelization doesn't take place around a table , with strategies, they are secondary. Evangelization takes place with the testimony ... John Paul II and Benedict XVI have said that today's man needs witnesses, more than masters. "

It is important that "we are guided by Jesus," "our leader" and that we "allow God to gaze at us". The Holy Father revealed how at times, late in the evening he goes to the chapel and nods off from exhaustion in front of the Tabernacle. "But He understands ... And I let Him hold me in His gaze look and that gives me strength."
To the third question, asked by an employee, "How can we live as a poor Church for the poor? What contribution we can give to address the serious crisis of today?" Francis replied that the "main contribution" we can give is "living the Gospel. The Church is not a political movement, nor a well-organized structure. We are not an NGO. When the Church becomes an NGO it loses salt and becomes tasteless, an empty organization".

And after having warned against the temptations presented by efficiency, he added: "[In today's world] man is in crisis, for this is a deep crisis. Why we cannot be concerned only with ourselves ... We must not isolate in ourselves in our parishes, with friends, in our movements, with those who think like us ... When the Church becomes closed, it gets sick. A room closed for a year .. when you open it smells of damp...the Church must go out of itself to the existential outskirts. Jesus said, 'Go into all the world'. In doing so the Church runs the risk of accidents a long the way as some would point out. But I say, I prefer a thousand times a Church damaged by an accident, than a sick Church closed in on itself. We often lock ourselves up in antiquated structures out of fear, which make us slaves. "

He pointed out that the dominant culture is that "of contrast and of waste", which eliminates the elderly with their wisdom, and children because they are useless. Christians must go against this culture: "We need to go out and meet everyone, people who do not think like us, of other faiths, non-believers ... They share one thing with us, they are made in the image of God."

He then returned again to the "human crisis": "A homeless man who dies of cold, that doesn't make the news ... Children who die of hunger, do not make the news." "If we go out and we meet the poor, we can touch the flesh of Christ. A poor Church for the poor begins with going out, encountering the flesh of Christ, and [so] we begin to understand what the poverty of the Lord is."

The last question concerns "proclaiming the faith," persecution and how to "help our persecuted brothers and sisters", "how to help them change their political and social context".

"To proclaim the Gospel - says the Pope - it takes courage and patience." And playing on the connection between the word "patience" and "suffering", he defines the persecuted as "the Church in patience." Remembering that "there are more martyrs today than in the early centuries of the Church, our brothers and sisters who are suffering ... They witness the faith until martyrdom. But martyrdom is never a defeat. It is the highest degree of witness."

The pontiff noted that often conflicts in which Christians are victims "have no religious origin - they have social or political causes that then involve religious communities - but the Christian must always respond to evil with good."
And he asked all: "Let us try to make them feel that we
are deeply united to their situation ... Do you pray for these brothers and sisters every day?".
The commitment for them, then added, "should prompt us to promote religious freedom for all. Every man must be free to [profess] his religion, because every man and woman are God's children."
At the end of the vigil, and after the blessing, Francis greeted everyone with a "Good evening." And the crowd yelled, "Je-sus! Je-sus! Je-sus ! ".

March 09,2013,
International Christian Voice Canada Condemn to attack on more than 150 houses in Joesph colony Lahore Pakistan, This act of violence is completely unacceptable and we demand the government of Pakistan to ensure that the minorities of Pakistan be protectedand ,Please remembers the Christian and other religious minorities of Pakistan in your Prayers.
Mrs Najami Saleem MPA Punjab and Members of CAC APMA along with other 60 members of APMA went to the incidents and helped victim families to rescue ,Dr Paul Bhatti Advisor to Prim minsiter on Interfaith and Harmony strongly condemn the incident and called relevant authority to ensure the safety of Christian of Pakistan and APMA team is continue helping the victims of this incident As soon as we will get further detail we will inform you.
Peter Bhatti
International Christian Voice Canada
The Express Tribune

Blasphemy accusation: Hundreds of Christians in Lahore forced to flee

150 houses of Christ­ian famili­es were attack­ed in Joseph Colony.

Protesters claimed that they would not let the families return to their homes until the accused was arrested. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE


A mob of almost 3,000 people, forced a Christian community to flee for their lives on Friday, leaving behind their houses and possessions.

This occurred in the Badami Bagh area, when one of the Christians was accused of blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

The charged group gathered around Joseph Colony on Noor Road, led by Shafiq Ahmed, who was in search of the accused Savan, alias Bubby. The mob attacked Savan’s house, partially burnt it and pelted it with stones. Other houses in the locality – home to about 150 Christian families – were also attacked. Many residents, including women and children, hastily fled to save themselves.

Savan could not be found. However, his father was caught and badly beaten. The vehicle of a pastor, who reached the area to inquire about the incident, was also damaged.

The episode began at 1 pm in the afternoon and did not conclude till the evening, when a large number of police personnel finally reached the spot and averted further damage.

The police placated the mob by registering an FIR under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (death sentence) against Savan and ensuring that he would be given into their custody to decide his fate. They also took Chaman Masih into custody.

Despite all this, the protesters continued to claim that they would not let the families return until Savan’s arrest.

Shahid Imran, complainant in the FIR, told The Express Tribune that Savan would utter blasphemous remarks against the Holy Prophet (pbuh) from time to time. When it happened again on Thursday, he told his friend Shafiq, who took out a knife and went straight to Savan’s house. This visit bore no fruit. Then, on Friday, he incited other men to join him in punishing Savan.

According to Imran, the situation went out of control when people reached the spot after offering prayers under Qari Saifullah. Countless people had joined the mob, chanting slogans and throwing stones at the houses.

Qari Saifullah said that if they find Savan, they must cut him into pieces.

Human Liberation Commission of Pakistan Chairman Aslam Parvaiz Sahotra visited the site and told The Express Tribune that the police registered the FIR after bowing to the pressure of the mob. However, the police did save children and women.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2013.

Freedom of Religion or Belief: An Individual’s Choice Speech by Dr. Paul Bhatti



Published: September 28, 2012

Dr. Paul Bhatti

Good afternoon foreign ministers, ladies and gentlemen, it is a matter of great privilege and honor for me to be among such a distinguished gathering to dialogue on this critical issue. I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to the co-hosting Governments of Canada, Netherlands and the Republic of Senegal for organizing such a meaningful event.

Well over 90% of the World’s population are religious believers, therefore more than ever there is a growing need for not only dialogue that will address today’s context but for relationships with other inter-religious communities. The potential role of religion in conflict, and the growing place of religion in public life, present urgent challenges that require a greater understanding and co-operation among people of diverse faiths.

We do realize that contrary to what is often feared, religious freedom does not create social instability but actually leads to increased public order. Societies are more likely to flourish when its citizens have the freedom to voice their deepest beliefs and highest ideals. During the past few years, a number of studies show the benefits of religious freedom to civil society all over the world.

The Pope Benedict XV1 said “Religious freedom is an authentic weapon of peace, with an historical and prophetic mission. Peace brings to full fruition the deepest qualities and potentials of the human person, the qualities which can change the world and make it better. It gives hope for a future of justice and peace, even in the face of grave injustice and material and moral poverty.”

Pakistan today offers us serious challenges on many different levels and with this in mind our approach has to be different than what we would expect in the Western world. We are a nation that has suffered several atrocities after the independence .
The two wars with India over the disputed region of Kashmir, The previous fall out of the Russian invasion in Afghanistan and the presence of over 3 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, and recently, being an ally to the Western world in its fight against terrorism and extremism, have caused further development of extremism and terrorism. We has lost well over 40,000 innocent citizens and over 4,500 law enforcing personnel. Today Pakistan is confronted with internal and cross border terrorism, sectarian violence, religious extremism, fanaticism, intolerance, and discrimination. I propose that religious freedom can be the solution in the actualization of world peace, but in the context of Pakistan, we need to put all our efforts and support into building a road of religious freedom and education. With this starting from the ground level, we need to overcome our major enemies which are: poverty, illiteracy, Terrorism and intolerance. They have to be fought by peaceful means of education, dialogue, economical reforms and love.

We can gain courage by looking to those who have gone before us who stood for peace and unity at such great cost.

But more than anything, may I call upon you, and the nations you represent, for peaceful action, to stand with us in solidarity and support, uniting for the cause of religious freedom, but by the process of building with us a road of religious education, throughout all levels of our society, thus bringing peace and an end to violence in the world.

At this point, I would like to strongly condemn the content and message of a recent movie called, “Innocence of Muslims,” which seems it’s purpose was to insult Great religions, and to provoke hatred and discord. It is both revolting and absolutely reprehensible. It’s content has deeply hurt Muslim and other religious communities alike not only in Pakistan but worldwide. Sadly in many instances this has incited, anger, hatred, rage and violence, resulting in loss of lives, which I also strongly condemn.

While freedom of speech and expression as stated in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights is commendable. This kind of misuse of free speech is irresponsible and has become a weapon in the hands of people who clearly do not respect all human beings.

Therefore, I would kindly request the International community, offer proposals and or a resolution, to ban such activities, that can prevent this kind of hostility between the Great religions occurring in the future.

I further suggest; as a way forward in developing a greater understanding between the Great religions of the world, establishing an international committee for inter-faith and inter-relationship dialogue. who can contribute in the development of religious freedom in every society.

I would like to conclude my speech with statement of Dr Martin Luther King, when he said, Hate begets hate; violence begets violence… We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love… Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate… but to win …friendship and understanding. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Thank you


Pakistani Christians flee after girl accused of blasphemy

Published on Monday August 20, 2012

Pakistan blasphemy gate

B.K. Bangash/AP Residents gather outside the locked house of a Christian girl in a colony outside Islamabad on Monday. Up to 600 Christians have fled the colony since Pakistani authorities arrested the girl on suspicion of violating the country's blasphemy laws.
Richard Leiby
The Washington Post
ISLAMABAD—Everyone in the teeming, tense community of Muslims and Christians just outside Islamabad seems to have a different story about the young girl and the Qur’an.

The 12-year-old Christian deliberately burned the Muslim holy book, some say. No, she innocently put pages from a nonsacred teaching text into the trash, say others, and nothing was burned. Still another version holds that an older Muslim boy planted pages of the Qur’an for the cleaning girl to find, and levelled the accusation of desecration because she had spurned him.

Amid the conflicting claims, this much is certain: As many as 600 Christians have fled their colony bordering the capital, fearing for their lives, officials said, after a mob last week called for the child to be burned to death as a blasphemer. Pakistan’s president has asked his Interior Ministry to look into the case.

The girl, whom authorities have described as mentally challenged, now sits in jail in Rawalpindi, charged by police with blasphemy, while her family has been put in federal protective custody. The evidence against her is muddled at best, but police said they arrested her in part to assuage the mob and also because they knew she would be safer in jail.

“The one who burned the Qur’an should be burned,” said Shaukhat Ali, an assistant at the local mosque, expressing a sentiment shared by many Muslims in the community.

Under Pakistani law, those found guilty of defaming the Islamic prophet Muhammad face the death penalty, while defiling the Qur’an can bring a life sentence. The case of the girl is the fourth in recent months to alarm human rights advocates, who say the law is frequently used to persecute Christians and also has been unfairly applied to the mentally ill, including some Muslims.

Liberal and moderate Pakistanis see the rise in blasphemy allegations as a reflection of a dangerous ascent of extremism and anti-Western sentiment throughout society.

“Most of the people consider the Christians here to represent the West,” said Paul Bhatti, who heads the Ministry of National Harmony, a post created after his younger brother, Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic and minority affairs minister, was assassinated by the Pakistani Taliban last year for advocating reform of the blasphemy laws.

Shahbaz Bhatti was the second prominent politician killed in 2011 for his opposition to the laws; Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab Province, was gunned down by a member of his security retinue, who immediately confessed and was widely celebrated in Pakistan for defending Islam.

Christians are easy targets for false claims by accusers with ulterior motives. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari took “serious note” of the girl’s arrest, a spokesman said Sunday, and quoted him as saying, “Blasphemy by anyone cannot be condoned, but no one will be allowed to misuse blasphemy law for settling personal scores.”

In an interview Sunday night at his heavily guarded office in Islamabad, Bhatti said such allegations are usually levelled against the poor and the powerless. The 50-year-old physician said he has drawn no firm conclusions about the girl’s case, but knows one thing: even if cleared, she and her family can never return to their home.

“If she is not guilty, some can understand and they can forgive,” he said. “But there are people who just want to have death.”

The slum where the 12-year-old lived is typical of other desperately poor Christian enclaves in and around the comparatively prosperous capital. Many Christians live in lean-tos and toil as trash pickers or wood scavengers.

The incident involving the girl happened Thursday afternoon, evidently while she was gathering trash; but beyond that, everything is in dispute. Some locals claim to have witnessed her and her mother burning the entire Qur’an.

But Tahir Muhammad, a 30-year-old shop owner and landlord, said the girl found just one page of the holy book while cleaning a house, mixed it with other papers and burned it.

A 10-year-old neighbourhood girl said she saw the whole thing and took the ashes to the mosque, with no pages of the Qur’an extant. In interviews Sunday, two men at the mosque also said only ashes remained and that the imam mixed in some pages himself before turning over the “evidence” to police.

“Somebody must be confused when they said pages (of the Qu’ran) were mixed in; no such thing happened,” Imam Hafiz Muhammad Zubair said Monday. He also said community leaders decided to turn the girl and her mother over to police for their own safety.

“Both the women confessed to us that they had indeed burned the Qur’an,” he said.

Various tellings of the incident spread Friday to other mosques. Some outside religious leaders and locals encouraged Muslims to converge on the Christian enclave, but others counselled restraint, said Bhatti, who talked with several clerics.

An estimated 500 to 1,000 Muslims, including many outsiders, turned out Friday to demand punishment for the alleged blasphemer, blocking a nearby highway and burning tires. The mob also menaced the police.

Other Muslims, who said they count Christians as their friends, said they oppose vigilantism. However, in their view, if the girl is found guilty then the Christians must leave for good.

“The people here are not extremists,” said Asad Riaz, 30, sitting in the mosque Sunday evening, “but this has provoked them.”

The imam sounded a note of conciliation, but with conditions. “It isn’t really those poor folks’ fault,” Zubair said, “but we will wait and see what the official verdict against her is, and if they are guilty then decide accordingly.”

Over the weekend, residents of the Christian enclave began to migrate to other colonies in Islamabad, where they have remained. Authorities said they could not guarantee their safety if they return.

Some Christians who stayed in the area said shopkeepers are refusing to sell them food and have issued threats.

“They said they will burn our house down if we don’t leave,” said 17-year-old Adnan, who lived next to the accused girl’s family. “They are also saying that since a woman burned the Qur’an they will come after our women now.”

He and his cousin, perched nervously on a motorbike, would soon be migrating to Islamabad, too, they said, then took off into the night.

The Express Tribune 

11-year-old mentally challenged Christian girl jailed for blasphemy

Rifta suffer­s from Down’s Syndro­me; allege­dly burned pages of a Qaida while playin­g outsid­e her house
Published: August 19, 2012

Rifta suffers from Down’s Syndrome; allegedly burned pages of a Qaida while playing outside her house. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: An 11-year-old Christian girl, suffering from Down’s Syndrome, was arrested on Saturday on blasphemy charges, after being accused of burning passages of the Holy Quran.
Rifta Masih was jailed by the police in Mehrabadi village, near Islamabad, after being severely beaten up by locals, for allegedly burning 10 pages of the Noorani Qaida.
On the eve of Ramazan 27, Rifta was playing outside her house, opposite sector G-11 in Islamabad, when she was allegedly seen burning and dumping the pages of the Qaida into a bin.
Fearing severe backlash, Rifta’s family fled from the area, while locals handed over the young girl and her mother to the local police.
According to sources, locals blocked the Kashmir Highway for hours and surrounded the Ramna police station in G-11 when the police initially showed reluctance to register a case against the young girl. The police, however, soon succumbed to the pressure, registering a blasphemy case against Rifta and formally arresting her on Thursday.
Zabiullah, the investigation officer of the case, could not be contacted, despite repeated attempts. Ramna police station SHO Qasim Niazi, meanwhile, refused to give details of the case, saying he did not have much information.
‘Paul Bhatti takes notice’ 
According to sources, Adviser to the Prime Minister for National Harmony Dr Paul Bhatti has taken notice of the incident.
Sources told The Express Tribune that Bhatti has spoken to lawyers to provide legal aid to Rifta and her family for her immediate release from the juvenile jail, as well as to take legal action against locals who influenced the police into registering a case.
They further disclosed that Bhatti has also taken up the issue with religious scholars of different sects, who, after Eid, will determine whether Rifta’s act was deliberate or unintentional, since she is only a child.
According to sources, the capital police, while briefing Bhatti on the issue, denied that Rifta and her mother were tortured by locals; however, they confirmed that she has Down’s Syndrome.
Down’s Syndrome is a severe genetic disorder that severely affects cognitive and physical growth – and affects a child from birth. Usually, children suffering from it are identifiable from their features. There is no cure for Down’s Syndrome. Therapy for this disorder is uncommon in Pakistan, and is usually unavailable for poorer segments of society.
Parliamentary Secretary on Human Rights and Chairperson of Parliamentary forum on Child Rights Rubina Qaimkhawni told The Express Tribune that the ministry will provide every possible aide to Rifta and her family.
“I will take up the issue at the parliamentary forum,” she said, adding that Rifta “is an innocent minor, who might not even be familiar with the meanings of religion”.
She said the issue could have been solved amicably at a local level but it was deliberately blown out of proportion.
“The government will continue to strive for human rights and particularly for the rights of minorities in Pakistan,” said Qaimkhawni.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2012.


Zilhaj 9, 1431
Devolution of minorities’ ministry opposed
By Our Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD, Nov 15:At a time when the Parliamentary Commission on Implementation of the 18th Amendment is reviewing the process of devolution of ministries and departments under clauses on provincial autonomy, a National Assembly standing committee opposed on Monday the plan to transfer the Ministry of Minorities Affairs from the centre to the provinces.Members of the Standing Committee on Minorities Affairs, which met under its chairman Dr Mahesh Kumar Malani, were of the unanimous view that the ministry should not be transferred to the provinces because it would create complications in legislation of personal laws.
Ramesh Lal of the Pakistan People’s Party told Dawn there was complete unanimity among the 10 minority members belonging to different parties that the ministry should remain at the centre.
He said they had already written letters to the government in this regard and they would soon write to Senator Raza Rabbani, the chairman of the implementation commission, asking him to review the decision.
Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti justified the committee’s recommendation and said the minorities had always been treated at the national level which was evident even from the country’s flag in which white colour represented the minorities.
He said the move to transfer the ministry to the provinces could affect international treaties and conventions that the country had signed and which made it binding upon the government to protect the rights of the minorities.
When asked how could this be done when parliament had already approved the 18th Amendment, he said there was no need for any amendment because the ministry was not a part of Concurrent List that had been abolished through the 18th Amendment.
On the other hand, Mr Rabbani ruled out possibility of any change in decisions already been taken for implementation of the 18th Amendment.“The Constitution cannot be violated,” he said.
Tuesday 16th November 2010 | Zilhaj 9, 1431
Punjab asked to ensure safety of blasphemy convict
By Our Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD, Nov 15:The Centre has directed the Punjab government to ensure protection of a Christian woman in jail and her family members at home after she was given death sentence by a district and sessions court on blasphemy charges in Nankana Sahib last  week.Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti has also urged the provincial government to provide all possible chances to Aasia Bibi to plea her case on merit.Talking to reporters outside parliament house after attending a meeting of National Assembly standing committee on Monday,Mr Bhatti said the government would not allow anyone to misuse the blasmphy law,
He said safeguarding the life and property of minorities was the constitutional obligation of the government.
He said in most of the cases, the blasphemy law was being misused to settle personal scores, political vendetta and religious enmities.
Aasia Bibi, a resident of Ittanwali, was accused of passing derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in an FIR registered with the Saddar police by Qari Salim, a mosque imam.The judge, Mohammad Naveed Iqbal, reportedly also imposed a fine of Rs300,000 on her.
Aasia Bibi, the mother of five children, has filed an appeal with the Lahore High Court against the judgment.
Meanwhile, the National Commission on the Status of Women in a statement here expressed its ‘shock’ over the capital punishment awarded to Aasia Bibi and called for her immediate release. “Aasia Bibi is the latest victim of the pernicious blasphemy laws that in their present form were promulgated arbitrarily by a military dictator more than 20 years ago. 
International Christian Voice Canada (ICV) condemns the death sentence of a Christian woman under blasphemy law in Pakistan
According to "Release International" the court of sessions passed the death sentence on Asia Bibi on November 7, 2010. Asia who is from Ittanwali in Punjab province,laboured in the fields for a Muslim landlord. She was arrested after a heated discussion about religion with her fellow farm workers. Hers was one of only three Christian families in the village. Some of the women workers had been putting
her under pressure to renounce her Christian faith and accept Islam.
 On June 19, 2009, the women pressed Asia about Islam She responded by sharing with them about her faith in Christ,She spoke of how Jesus Christ had died on the cross for their sins and then asked them what Mohammed had done for them.
 On hearing this response the Muslim women became very angry and began to beat her. Some men took Asia by force and locked her in a room. They used the PA system of a local mosque to broadcast plans to punish Asia by blackening her face and parading her through the village on a donkey.
 For the first time in history Pakistan has sentenced to death a Christian woman for blasphemy.
 According to "Release International" A mob formed and Asia was violently abused by Muslim villagers and clerics. Her children were also beaten. However some Christians informed the police and Asia was taken into protective custody. Pressure to charge her was brought to bear by Muslim leaders.
Sentence was passed yesterday. Asia was also fined £728 the equivalent of two-and-a half years salary for an unskilled worker.
 No one sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan has ever been executed, but Asia could now spend years in appalling conditions on death row. If she appeals to the High Court, it may take years before her case is heard.
The misuse of the Blasphemy Law in Pakistan has led to physical violence, damage, destruction of properties and loss of life within the innocent Christian minority over the years; This is a violation of
the fundamental rights guaranteed by Article 36 of the Constitution of Pakistan.
International Christian Voice requests all of you to please raise your voice to abolish Blasphemy law and other discriminatory laws from Pakistan Penal Code.
Please pray for Asia and her family, so that they may have courage to
stand firm in their faith during this critical time. Also, please join International Christian Voice in signing the petition to repeal the Blasphemy Law.

Monday, November 8, 2010
Pakistani Christian Woman Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy Charges

By Success Kanayo Uchime
Special to ASSIST News Service

PUNJAB, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- A Pakistani court has sentenced Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of four, to death for "blasphemy" charges thereby becoming the first woman to receive such a capital punishment.

Asia Bibi (Photo:

This news is contained in a report by Release International, (, a United Kingdom based Christian organization serving the persecuted Christians, which adding that a sessions court judge yesterday (Sunday, November 7, 2010) gave Asia the maximum sentence at the end of a trial that lasted for more than 16 months.

The report said that Asia, a farm laborer in her late-30s from Ittanwali, Punjab, was also fined more than £700 ($1,129.76 USD) - the equivalent of two-and-a-half years' salary for the average worker.

"Release partners at Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan (SLMP), who have been supporting Asia and her family throughout their ordeal, say that they and the family are shocked by this outcome," it stated.

After a previous court appearance, Asia is hugged by some of her children. One was Isha, who cried and hugged her mother and would not let her go. Isha pointed to the veil on her mother's face and said, "I want to see your face, remove this cover." It was a sad scene. (Photo:

The group noted that no one sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan has ever been executed, but Asia could now spend years in appalling conditions on death row. If she appeals to the High Court, it may take years before her case is heard.

According to the report, police first filed a case against her in June 2009 after local Muslims accused her of making derogatory comments against Islam's prophet, Mohammed.

"She had reportedly been discussing matters of faith with fellow laborers in the fields when Asia and her daughters were attacked by local villagers and Muslim clerics. She had reportedly been under pressure from her fellow workers to convert to Islam," the report added.

It continued: "A spokesman for SLMP described Asia as having a strong faith - but said that this decision would be a crushing blow to her and her family. She was longing to go back home to her children, but her dreams of release have vanished now. She desperately needs peace in her heart, the peace that comes from God. The SLMP team plan to visit Asia in prison as soon as possible."

Release International said they're concerned that Asia's conviction could set a dangerous precedent. Martha Bibi is currently on trial for blasphemy in Lahore and she was charged in 2007, after a dispute with builders who allegedly refused to return equipment belonging to her.

They say, "Act now by signing our petition calling for justice for Christians in Pakistan at or call our office Tel: +44 (0) 1689 823491 for a paper copy.

Release International, through its international network of missions, serves persecuted Christians in 30 countries around the world by supporting pastors and Christian prisoners, and their families; supplying Christian literature and Bibles and also working for justice.

Hindu community in Pakistan celebrates Diwali

From ANI
Islamabad, Nov 6: The Hindu community living in Pakistan celebrated the festival of Diwali at their religious places of worship on Friday.

Federal Minister for Minorities' Affairs- Shahbaz Bhatti- felicitated Hindus on their festival of lights, colors and happiness, giving the message of promoting tolerance, dialogue, understanding, cooperation, and harmony, and to remove misunderstandings among different faiths, The News reported.

The Ministry of Minorities had announced celebrating the festival officially for mainstreaming the minorities living in the country, like ten other festivals of minorities including Baisakhi, Holi, Eid-i-Rizwan, Chelumjusht, Nauroze, Christmas and Easter festivals of Sikhs, Hindus, Bahais, Kalash, Parsis and Christian Communities respectively.

In a message, Bhatti said that his ministry welcomes the minorities' guests, and added that besides resolving the issues of minorities on a priority basis, the government will also table the Hindu Sikh Marriage Act in the parliament soon.

Although the ministry planned to hold colorful programmes to celebrate Diwali, the events were arranged in a simple way in view of the disaster caused by the recent floods in Pakistan.

This year, it was celebrated on November 5, while the festivities last for five consecutive days- starting two days before Diwali- and including the celebrations of Dhanteras, Narak Chaturdashi, Govardhan Puja and Bhai Duj.

During the festival, which is connected with deep-rooted cultural values of the Hindu religion, people wake up early in the morning, wear new clothes, offer their prayers and touch the feet of their elders, and in return elders give them Diwali gifts. Hindus offer special prayers to Goddess Lakshmi to seek blessings of well being and good fortune, and celebrate with clay diyas, candles, lamps and firework to mark the jubilations.

Copyright Asian News International/

Muslim Tortures, Accuses Christian Who Refused Slavery
Jawad Mazhar
November 1, 2010
SARGODHA, Pakistan (CDN) — A Muslim land owner in Pakistan this month subjected a 25-year-old Christian to burns and a series of humiliations, including falsely charging him with having sex with his own niece, because the Christian refused to work for him without pay.
Fayaz Masih is in jail with burns on his body after No. 115 Chitraan Wala village head Zafar Iqbal Ghuman and other villagers punished Masih for refusing to work as a slave in his fields, said the Rev. Yaqub Masih, a Pentecostal evangelist. The village is located in Nankana Sahib district, Punjab Province.

Sources said neither Fayaz Masih nor his family had taken any loans from Ghuman, and that they had no obligations to work off any debt for Ghuman as bonded laborers.

Yaqub Masih said the young man's refusal to work in Ghuman's fields infuriated the Muslim, who was accustomed to forcing Christians into slavery. He said Ghuman considered Masih's refusal an act of disobedience by a "choohra," the pejorative word for Christians in Pakistan. On Oct. 3 Ghuman and 11 of his men abducted Masih from his home at gun-point and brought him to Ghuman's farmhouse, according to Yaqub Masih and Yousaf Gill, both of nearby village No. 118 Chour Muslim. Gill is a former councilor of Union Council No. 30, and Yaqub Masih is an ordained pastor waiting for his denomination to assign him a church. 
Fayaz Masih's family members told Yaqub Masih that Ghuman was carrying a pistol, and that the 11 other men were brandishing rifles or carrying clubs, axes and bamboo sticks. They began beating Masih as they carried him away, calling him a choohra, Yaqub Masih said.  
Gill said that Ghuman's farmhands tied Fayaz Masih's hands and legs and asked him once more if he would work in Ghuman's fields. When he again refused, Gill said, Ghuman summoned four barbers; three ran away, but he forced one, Muhammad Pervaiz, to shave Masih's head, eyebrows, half of his mustache and half of his beard.
After they had rubbed charcoal on Masih's face, Ghuman then announced that Masih had had relations with Masih's 18-year-old niece, Sumeera, and called for everyone in the village to punish him. He and his men placed Masih on a frail, one-eyed donkey, Yaqub Masih and Gill said, and a mob of Muslim men and children surrounded him - beating tins, dancing and singing door-to-door while shouting anti-Christian slogans, yelling obscenities at him and other Christians, and encouraging villagers to beat him with their shoes and fill his mouth with human waste, Yaqub Masih said.
Some threw kerosene on Masih and alternately set him on fire and extinguished the flames, Gill said. He added that Muslims made a garland of old shoes from a pile of garbage and put it around Masih's neck.

Yaqub Masih said the abuse became unbearable for the young man, and he collapsed and fell off the donkey.  

Police Ignore Court

Masih's sister, Seema Bibi, told Compass that the accusation that Masih had had sex with her daughter Sumeera was utterly false. She said Ghuman made the allegation only to vent his fury at Masih for refusing to work for him.

Seema Bibi said that Ghuman told her daughter at gun-point to testify against Masih in court on Oct. 4. Sumeera surprised the Muslim land owner, however, saying under oath that Masih was innocent and that Ghuman had tried to force her to testify against her uncle. A judge ruled that Sumeera had not had illicit relations with Masih, and that therefore she was free to go home.

Her mother told Compass, however, that since then Ghuman has been issuing daily death threats to her family.
After Masih collapsed from the abuse, Yaqub Masih and Gill called local police. Police did not arrive until three hours later, at 3:30 p.m., they said, led by Deputy Superintendent of Police Shoiab Ahmed Kamboh and Inspector Muhammad Yaqub.
"They rebuked the Muslim villagers that they could have killed this Christian youth, and they told them to give him a bath at once and change his clothes, in order to reduce the evidence against them," Gill said.

Family members of Masih said Kamboh and Inspector Yaqub arrested some of the leading figures within the mob, but soon thereafter they received a call to release every Muslim.
"Instead of taking the Muslim men into custody, they detained my brother, and he was taken to the police station," Seema Bibi said.  

On Oct. 4 police sent Masih to District Headquarters Hospital Nankana Sahib for examination, where Dr. Naseer Ahmed directed Dr. Muhammad Shakeel to mention in the medical report how severely Ghuman and his farmhands had beaten him, Gill said. He said the medical report also stated that Masih had sustained burns and that his head, mustache, eyebrows and beard were shaved.

In spite of the court ruling that Masih had not had sex with his niece, police were coerced into registering a false charge of adultery under Article 376 of the Islamic statutes of the Pakistan Penal Code, First Information Report No. 361/10, at the Sangla Hill police station.

At press time Masih remained in Shiekhupura District Jail, said Gill. Gill also has received death threats from Ghuman, he said.

The 11 men who along with Ghuman abducted Masih and brought him to Ghuman's farmhouse, according to Masih's family, were Mehdi Hussain Shah and Maqsood Shah, armed with rifles; Muhammad Amin, Rana Saeed, Muhammad Osama and four others unidentified, all of them brandishing clubs; Muhammad Waqas, with an axe; and Ali Raza, bearing a bamboo stick and a club.

Copyright 2010 Compass Direct News. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pakistani Christian Men ‘Falsely’ Accused of Blasphemy

By Jawad Mazhar
Special Correspondent for ANS, reporting from Pakistan

RAHWALI, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Two young Pakistani Christians have been accused of blasphemy, resulting in threats by local Muslims to burn them alive.

The two men, Nasir (aged 20) and Hanif (aged 24) -- known to be best friends in the town of Rahwali, a suburb of Gujranwala -- were implicated in a what is alleged to be a false case of blasphemy under article 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, according to a report from CLASS (Center for Legal Aid Assistance Settlement) obtained by ANS.

Rev Sharif Allam, a local pastor serving in the Church of Pakistan in Gakhar, about 75 kilometers (an estimated 46 miles) from Lahore, and Mr. Joseph Francis, National Director of CLAAS, told ANS by telephone that both men have been “falsely implicated” in the blasphemy case and have “fled the area in fear of their lives.”

Rev Allam, who helps the Christian community in social, economic, political and legal affairs, said the matter is a “very sensitive issue in the area” and that the Muslim community was “ready to attack local Christians and burn them alive.”

According to Rev. Allam, there are only 30 Christian families living in Rahwali, among more than 300 Muslim residents. Most Christians there, he told ANS, are “poor and illiterate and are used to doing manual labor to meet the needs of their families.”

Nasir is known to have done different kinds of labor, including working with masons and collecting scrap from door-to-door and then selling it to scrap shops. He also worked as hawker, selling different items on the streets.

Hanif, who is also known as Chand, was reported to be a government servant, working for the Pakistan Army as a sweeper at the Rahwali Army Base, which he has been doing for the last eight years.

Nasir's father, William Masih, told CLAAS that the alleged incident of blasphemy took place on October 16, 2010, when Mohammad Baig, a factory night watchman, called Nasir and Hanif late at night and asked them to sell some books to a scrap dealer.

Apparently, Baig told Nasir that he would pay him for selling the books, weighing almost 80 kg. Nasir allegedly asked Hanif to help in taking the books to the scrap shop. In one night, they sold two bags of books to a scrap dealer and one bag to another dealer, and were paid for the books.

In the morning, when one of the scrap dealers saw that the books were actually Islamic Holy books, he came to Nasir, returning the books and demanding his money back. Nasir told him that he had spent money, but he would return it soon. As a result of this conversation, the scrap dealer became angry and started shouting, alleging that Nasir committed blasphemy and had insulted the Islamic/religious Holy books.

Nasir and Hanif then fled from the factory, but the owners and other local Muslims went to the police station to register a blasphemy case against Nasir and Hanif.

When local Muslims learned that Nasir and Hanif had left the area, they become furious and aggressive toward other Christians living in Rahwali.

At about 9:30 p.m. on the evening of October 18, 2010, Mohammad Zahir, a cleric from a local Mosque, along with about 50-60 young Muslims, started shouting at local Christians. Zahir told the Muslims to attack the Christians.

One of the local Christians informed the area police, who were on the scene immediately, and the angry Muslims left the area and did not attack local believers as was threatened.

Local believers were reported to be scared, and unable to sleep that night. Early in the morning of October 19, most of the Christian families fled the area to save the lives of their children and young girls from any harm.

Pastor Allam was informed about the incident and was asked to negotiate with police and the factory owners. He was able to speak to the police, the factory owners and other some influential leaders from the Muslim community, telling them that Nasir and Hanif were innocent and asking them to allow time for police to solve the matter.

The Muslim factory owners demanded that Nasir and Hanif should give an oath in the church about their innocence, and would then forgive them of all charges of blasphemy.

Pastor Sharif Allam immediately called Mr. Joseph Francis of CLASS and informed him about what was going on in the area.

Local Christians, led by Rev. Allam and Mr. Francis, gathered in the church, together with Muslims under the leadership of Mr. Faryad Sethi, who accused Nasir and Hanif of blasphemy. Pastor Allam then instructed all the believers about the oath they were making according to the Old and New Testaments.

ANS learned Mr. Joseph also addressed the public, giving some other examples of incidents of blasphemy, and also educating them about the importance of reconciliation, interfaith peace, love and harmony between the two communities.

Also present were Nasir and Hanif’s parents, who took an oath in the presence of those gathered, stating their sons were illiterate and innocent, had committed the offence unknowingly, and that the two young men were not aware that what they tried to sell were, in fact, some holy books.

Pastor Allam, Mr. Francis, Mr. Sethi and the young men's parents then went to police station to make written statements of compromise through legal procedures.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Inundated, marginalized, hapless Pakistani Christians are still in dire need of help

By Jawad Mazhar Special Correspondent for ANS, reporting from Pakistan

KARACHI, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Despite the claims of many governmental and none governmental organizations (NGOs) to have helped all of the flood stricken people of Pakistan, irrespective of their faith, ANS has discovered that in the country’s devastated Sindh province, food and help is still being sought by a large majority of its Christians.

A Christian family having meal after days at the Kotri Railways Hospital, Sindh, Pakistan

This news was given to ANS by the Rev. Khadim Bhutto, head of Global Vision Gospel Ministries (GVGM) in Pakistan, in an interview in which he said that his team of workers had visited many flood-stricken Christian villages and had found that Christians were still living in "appalling conditions" although flood waters had started to recede.

Talking to ANS by phone, he stated that his teams had uncovered the dire situation as they visited Dadu, Jacobabad, Khairpur Nathan Mahar, Qazi Arif, Longmahesar, Faridabad, Joli, Bhaseedabad, Tutlee, Lucky Shah, Shahdad Kot, Allah Bachao Shorogoath, Talka Kotli, Jamshoroo District and Dae Buda.

Rev. Khadim Bhutto’s flood relief team prays with flood affected Christians

The Rev. Bhutto went on to say that “flood waters have swept away Church buildings, Christian residential areas, and crops worth thousands of Pakistani Rupees,” and now these Christians “were compelled to live in deplorably pathetic conditions.”

He added that local believers were in “urgent need” of tents, mattresses, clean drinking water, medicine, blankets (as winter is approaching), mosquito nets (to prevent malaria and dengue fever), cots/beds, toilet disposals, water tanks, crockery, hygienic kits, soap/ shampoo, warm clothes and books and stationary for the children to keep up with their education.

Rev. Rafique Masih of Dae Buda village,
Sindh province

He also said that in Dae Buda and many other Christian villages, local pastors “need immediate funding to renovate their church buildings and people to erect new homes.” He cited that he had been told this by two local pastors, Rev. Munawar Masih and Rev. Rafique Masih.

The Christian leader concluded by asking Christians from around the world and donor organizations to help his flood relief team working for Christians so that can provide immediate assistance for “stranded and destitute Christians who have lost their jobs as well as their crops

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Muslim Extremists Murder Christian Family in Pakistan
Lawyer, wife, five children shot to death after he tried to defend Christian

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Islamic extremists killed a Christian lawyer, his wife and their five children in northwestern Pakistan this week for mounting a legal challenge against a Muslim who was charging a Christian exorbitant interest, local sources said.

According to a story by Compass Direct News, police found the bodies of attorney and evangelist Edwin Paul and his family on Sept. 28 at their home in Haripur, a small town hear Abbotabad in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (previously known as the North-West Frontier Province, or NWFP), according to Haripur Station House Officer (SHO) Maqbool Khan.

The victim and his wife Ruby Paul, along with their five children ages 6 to 17, had been shot to death.

"On Sept. 28 at around 8 a.m., we received a call from Sher Khan colony that people heard gunshots, and there was a group of people who ran from a house and drove away," Compass reported Khan said. "We went and found seven bodies in a house."

Paul's Muslim neighbor, Mushtaq Khan, told Compass that the previous day a group of armed men had threatened the lawyer.

"On Monday a group of armed men stopped Paul and took him by the collar and said, 'Leave the town in 24 hours - we know how to throw out Christians, we will not allow even a single Christian to live here. We will hang them all in the streets, so that no Christian would ever dare to enter the Hazara land."

Compass reported the Hazara are settlers from northern Pakistan who are an ethnic mixture of Punjabi Jats and Pashtuns (also called Pathans). Drawing attention for demanding a separate province for themselves when the NWFP became Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Hazara community financially supports area Islamic extremist groups and is known for charging up to 400 percent interest to Christians. Paul had moved with his family to the area in February.

Compass said he had taken up the case of Robin Mehboob, a Christian taxi driver in Haripur who had received a loan of 150,000 rupees (US$1,725) from Noor Khan, an influential Muslim whose lending network extends to some parts of Punjab Province, to buy a taxi. Originally Noor Khan agreed that Mehboob would pay back 224,000 rupees (US$2,580) after one year, Mehboob said.

"I gave my property papers as a guarantee," Mehboob told Compass, "but then the amount of the interest was raised to 500 percent because I am a Christian - he was demanding back 1.12 million rupees (US$12,893). They have forcefully taken over my property and have confiscated my taxi as well. I am a poor man; the taxi is the only source of income."

Paul took Mehboob and the documents of the original loan agreement to the Haripur police station, Mehboob said. "We talked to the SHO, who said, 'You can file a complaint, but I can assure you that no one will testify against Noor Khan, as he is supported by extremist groups,'" Compass reported Mehboob said. "We filed the complaint, and one of the police officers informed (Noor) Khan that we went to the police station."

On their way back from the police station, three cars filled with Noor Khan's associates stopped near his house, Mehboob said.

"They came out and said, 'How dare you Christians go to the police, don't you know we own the law here?' They assaulted us, beating us with fists and clubs, and warned that if we try to seek any assistance, they will kill us."

Compass said Mehboob left Haripur that night and went to his brother in Sialkot.

Compass reported Paul wrote to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, Christian organizations and churches for help, explaining how Noor Khan and the extremist groups were driving Christians out of the area by taking over their property or threatening to kill them unless they sold their homes.

Compass said the Muslim extremist groups most active in the area are the banned Jamat ul Dawa, the Sunni Tahreek, and some groups linked with the Pakistani Taliban. The extremist groups were making fake documents to occupy properties owned by Christians, and Hazara investors were supporting the campaign, area Christians said.

The Muslim extremists have also threatened many Christians with death if they do not convert, they said.

Pastor Rehmat Naeem of St. Paul Church in Haripur told Compass that he had also received threats.

"Some extremists sent us threats through phone calls and letters, asking us to leave Haripur," Naeem said. "Many Christians were forced to sell their property at very low rates and leave the area. Edwin Paul tried to help the Christians - he even talked to the higher authorities, but no one was ready to testify against the extremists."
Compass said Naeem added that two months ago area extremists kidnaped eight missionaries; six have been released, and the two others are presumed dead.
A First Information Report has been filed in the murder of Paul and his family, and the District Coordination Officer and District Police Officer (DPO) have strongly condemned the crime and instructed the SHO to find those responsible, authorities said.
Compass said Chief Secretary of Hazara Division Ali Ahmed has released a statement ordering a police operation "under the Terrorist Act against the extremists and the Hazaras for forcefully driving away the Christians and killing seven innocent people. We will not allow anyone to threaten the religious minorities. It is the duty of the state to protect the life and property of its people. The DPO has been instructed to arrest the culprits in 72 hours and submit a report or he will be suspended."For more information about Compass Direct News go to
Friday, June 4, 2010
Pakistani Muslim Mob Attacks Christian Family

Attack Comes as a Result of a Thirteen-Year-Old Christian Refusing to Read the Qur’an
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
SMUNDRI, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on Friday, May 28, 2010, twelve heavily armed Muslim men attacked a pastor and his family in Smundri, Pakistan.
ICC says that Pastor Mubarak Masih and his family were assaulted after Shaid Masih, the pastor’s 13-year-old nephew, refused to read verses from the Qur’an (the Muslim holy book) despite pressure from his teacher.

“The Islamists beat the pastor’s head with sticks and rods; almost killed his brother when they shot him, grazing his head and causing a minor injury; and broke their mother’s left arm,” an ICC spokesperson told the ASSIST News Service (ANS).

In a statement to ICC, the family said that Zufair Gujhar, Shaid’s teacher, is a fundamentalist Muslim who routinely forces Christian students to read the Qur’an and other Islamic books. He pressures his Christian students to accept Islam.

Pastor Mubarak, a pastor of the Church of God, said, “We will continue our mission work at any cost and no one can stop us.”

The family reported the incident to the police but they have not yet taken any action against the alleged perpetrators.

ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia, Jonathan Racho, said, “The violent attack against Pastor Mubarak and his family as well as the beating of Shaid for refusing to read the Qur’an is another demonstration of the dire situation in which Christians find themselves in Pakistan. We are saddened by the utter disregard of the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan.”

ICC has requested that people concerned about this situation, should contact the embassy of Pakistan in their country and ask the Pakistani officials to bring Zufair Gujhar and the other 12 perpetrators of this attack to justice.

Some Pakistani Embassies:

USA: (202) 243-3254 (phone), (202) 686-1534 (Fax)
Canada: (613) 238-7881 (phone), (613) 238-7298 (Fax)
UK: 0870-005-6967 (phone)