Pakistan doesn’t deserve its Christian community

Published: March 11, 2013

They didn't just burn homes in Lahore, they burnt humanity, burnt Islamic teaching and burnt Jinnah’s Pakistan. PHOTO: ABID NAWAZ

The year 2009 saw a series of attacks on the Christian community in Gojra that left eight dead and many vulnerable and scared for their lives.

40 houses and a church were set ablaze by an angry mob and the police watched despite the residents begging for protection.

Again this week, an angry mob around 3,000 strong attacked a Christian community in search of a particular blasphemer, Sawan Manish who, was already captured and in custody since Friday. These young men – again not surprisingly – in front of the police expressed their rage and caused hundreds of Christians pain they never thought they could feel.

Many residents, including women and children, hastily fled to save themselves. PHOTO: ABID NAWAZ/ EXPRESS

Photo: Abid Nawaz

Ironically this location was less than a kilometre away from Minar-e- Pakistan, where the idea of this country was floated in 1940.

These are just two incidents, undertaken under the same government and in almost the same circumstances to persecute minorities; both of them used the blasphemy law as an excuse to torture Christians.

It is evident that Christians have suffered greatly, not because of the Taliban and LeJ, but due to people driven and motivated by local priests whose Islamic knowledge and sanity is questionable.

In 2009 a Christian woman, Asia bibi was charged with blasphemy; we never heard her part of the story, because according to the law, if one repeats the incident that individual is supposed to have committed blasphemy – a law punishable by death.

A mother of five, from an extremely poor background, two years post her death sentence, still lies in jail because whoever tried to save her – be it the governor or a minister – was shot dead and their murderers celebrated.

The same year (in which the Democratic Party took over) armed men went door to door burning Christian homes and when they saw these people escaping the flames they opened fire causing them to flee in greater panic.

Again the police was watching as though it were a staged drama.

Three years later, in 2012 Rimsha Masih, a teenage Christian girl with Down’s Syndrome was also falsely charged with blasphemy and was later freed. Even though she was free of all charges, she was flown to an undisclosed location because her life was in danger. Moreover hundreds of Christians fled Islamabad at the time, and to date remain at a camp.

The fear of being persecuted constantly looms over Christians in Pakistan.

Regardless of blasphemy, time and again we have seen churches and Christians being attacked.

In Karachi, people protesting against load shedding and ended up attacking churches!

It seems as though the life and property of a Christian is never really theirs in Pakistan.

Much as I loathe those who destroy churches for no reason, those who just stay quiet and watch truly make me shudder. The oblivion of our silent majority that looks on with detachment is scary.

Time and again we have seen the Christians help and support us. For instance, in Mardan, a mob of Muslims set a church on fire as a part of countrywide protests against an anti-Islam film. Ironically, this church was where internally displaced people (due to anti-Taliban operations) from Mardan and Swat were greeted and looked after by the local Christian community.

There are countless other examples of the kind-hardheartedness and generosity of Pakistan’s Christian community. Recently, a local church set out to collect funds for the Abbas Town victims and they even took to the streets when the Hazaras were killed.

Furthermore, they have built schools which are of such good quality that even the elite pine to send their children there.

But there were no sit –ins for this segment of our population and I don’t see any happening either.

There are no charitable drives for these homeless and frightened people who have lost everything.

The government has just made a couple of false promises to satiate the affected parties. Shahbaz  Sharif, on March 10 had announced Rs0.5 million in compensation for those affected in the mob attack. Furthermore, damaged homes are to be reconstructed within four days. Honestly, I don’t expect anything to happen, but one can be hopeful.

I personally feel as though the mob didn’t just burn homes in Lahore, they burnt humanity, burnt Islamic teaching and burnt Jinnah’s Pakistan.

Read more by Maheen here or follow her on Twitter @MaheenIshaikh

Maheen Sheikh

Maheen Sheikh

Currently studying law at SOAS, University of London and aspiring to become an advocate. Maheen loves reading, writing and yoga. She participates in charity work on the weekends and tweets @MaheenIshaikh (twitter.com/MaheenIshaikh).

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Zubair Ali

    What happened in Lahore was quite simply disgusting and a clear sign of the decay of our so called humanistic instincts.

    Right now, Pakistan and Pakistani’s should be ashamed at the way “our” minorities are treated. You can’t always blame the leaders and are accountable for your own actions too – or lack off actions in preventing this sick behavior. So ask yourself, what you did or did not do to prevent this barbaric behavior? Hating it in your heart is not enough anymore.

    As a foreign Pakistani, I cannot imagine the horror should the “native” population do the same to us.

    The writer is correct. Right now, Pakistan does not deserve its minorities. Recommend

  • Faisal

    Wake up Pakistanis!! all these incidents of so called persecution are heading towards creation of a Christian State as it happened earlier in Indonesia and Sudan.Recommend

  • Rana

    @ Writer: ! We are fully aware in which poor circumstances minorities are living in other countries of the world specifically in India! Recommend

  • http://www.terminalx.org Zaki Khalid

    As much as I regret and detest Muslim extremism, I loathe even more the random burger bachhas who prop up out of nowhere to write on issues which they, well, don’t give a practical damn about!Recommend

  • Imran

    We as moderate muslims really condemn those extremists. In fact we are living our lives as chameleon lives. The Govt should closely handle those extremist groups, so that freedom of speech could be possibly developed.Recommend

  • Muhammad Hassan

    Those who participated in this brutal attack are not Humans. They must be punished severely so that in future no one dares to misuse his authority as majority. I hope one day we will become a civilized nation where rights and property of everyone are being protected by the concerned authorities and other people. I as a Muslim condemn this incidence.Recommend

  • Aik Pakistani

    It’s true and that’s what’s so horrifying! That we as citizens of Pakistan have no humanity left! Recommend

  • Westerner

    @Rana poor attempt at deflection.

    You can only solve a problem, if you first acknowledge to have one. Your state of denial is what only exacerbates the menace that can be seen in Pakistan these days, it doesn’t provide any solution.

    Entire non-muslim communities are living in mortal fear in Pakistan and are routinely attacked at will. Articles such as this one are helpful as they depict the country

    I’m surely you response would be that heathen Westerners should keep their imperialist thoughts to themselves.

    But at the end of the day you have a problem, you need to deal with the message in stead of attacking the messenger. Recommend

  • Zubair Ali

    @Rana

    A cookie for the comment of the day for you sir.Recommend

  • Bonnie

    Furthermore, they have built schools which are of such good quality that even the elite pine to send their children there.”

    What else could be the greater words for us that we served this nation more than anyone else in the form of schools colleges and hospitals and are still serving, will continue to serve as long as we can do.Recommend

  • Dr Dang

    What happened a 1000 yrs ago in Arab countries is now happening in Pakistan. Religious Persecution..Recommend

  • Yuri Kondratyuk

    Truth is, Pakistanis don’t deserve the dust of the holy land that they dwell on.
    Look at the guy in the first photo, looks like he is almost celebrating the 72 hooris promised by some random Bedouin.Recommend

  • Yuri Kondratyuk

    @Zubair Ali:

    What happened in Lahore was quite simply disgusting and a clear sign of the decay of our >so called humanistic instincts.

    Let me congratulate you on getting another inch closer to realizing the dream of a Caliphate.Recommend

  • Zubair Ali

    @Yuri Kondratyuk:

    Was that comment designed to confuse me or was that an accident?Recommend

  • Anees Ahmed

    I am utterly disgraced by this brutal act if violence from the so called Muslims of the do called Islamic Republic of Pakistan. This barbarous act reflects the true picture of animals in Pakistan disguised in human. Every day brings shame to us living abroad.
    It seems people are psychologically ill as can be Caen by that person in you photo.
    Anees Recommend

  • Critical

    @Rana:
    Truth is,that the number of attacks on minorities(I club the Shia and Ahmedis with other minorities) in 2013 is more than what India has seen in last 62 years and we’re not even in the middle of March…

    Besides,your analogy is like saying I can spot some garbage in the backyard of my neighbor,but I will not acknowledge the fact that my house is often mistaken for a garbage dump..

    Clean your house first or atleast acknowledge its dirty….Recommend

  • Zubair Ali

    @Anees Ahmed:

    If being ashamed is your reason for wanting the violence to end, then I pity the way you think.Recommend

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    Pakistan doesn’t deserve any community including Sunnis. We indiscriminately kill each other. Recommend

  • Faqir Ipi

    Mullah bashing has not solved our problems in past 60 years and it will not solve our problems in next 6000 years. In fact its trap to divert our attention from real issues and problem to pre-defined agenda.

    What should do for protecting minorities.

    We have to bury deep historic and colonial garbage for our very existence. And it include all across the board whether Ghandi, Jinnah, Liaqat, Nehru or Bacha. As present state of Pakistan, India, Pashtuns & Bangladesh are making Jinnah, Ghandi, Bacha and Mujeeb look like great idiots ! The question is, if Pakistan, India & Bangladesh destiny was to become the cheap human resource hub for Western and Middle East Econmy and family furniture of a chosen few, if Pakistan, India & Bangladesh destiny was to become a live circus of communal violence. The question arise, should Pakistan, India & Bangladesh come into being? Simply scratch any hero or nation father from Dhaka till Bengal and you will find a monster lurking inside.

    Recommend

  • The Rebel

    @Zaki Khalid : ”As much as I regret and detest Muslim extremism, I loathe even more the random burger bachhas who prop up out of nowhere to write on issues which they, well, don’t give a practical damn about!”

    At least the ‘burger bachas’ are doing their part in raising awareness about some issues which have been plaguing this society. What have you done and what gives you the right to berate anyone like that? If you don’t like what’s being written or who’s it being written by then kindly don’t come here and rant.Recommend

  • TTV

    @Zaki Khalid:
    Your post just saved 70 baby seals from being clubbed to death. Keep up the good work.

    @Author:
    I think it’s time every school and madrassah in the country introduced a mandatory course on diversity and tolerance. I’ve lost faith in the current generation of Pakistanis, but we can still do our best to ensure that these misguided individuals do not pass their teachings onto the next generation.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Excellent write up………………We are harvesting the crop from the seeds sown by Zia. The crop is rotten and must be destroyed but the people are hungry and the rulers have given them no alternative to fill their belly……….. So who will do what has to be done ????Recommend

  • Zia

    This article is misleading. Out of so many crisis Pakistan is facing, law/justice are one of them. People are massacred right and left and killing minorities is yet an other flavor. Using religion and race to raise an agenda is yet another form of extremism. If you are sincere to find a solution, you should be honest in defining the problem to start with.Recommend

  • Sadia

    Look at the man in the first photo. Aisa lag raha hai ke koi game jeet ke aaya hai. Embarrassing and shocking. These people must be half mental. If there was genuine anger on his face I can then say that he acted out of anger, and others like him, but seriously this guy is happy to burn other people’s home. There is a special place for him in hell. Recommend

  • amir jafri

    Liberal/secular fascists never write such eulogies/elegies when muslims are persecuted and killed in the world esp. in India and US.Recommend

  • Fayyaz

    There is a huge inflow of “Black Money” from last 10-15 years in particular looted by the people of Pakistan, looting their own country. Corruption is smartness and has become a fashion which has caused a multi-polar society. Authorities want Confused, Deepressed and a Pscycho culture in the country to pro-long their power-games. Shortage of the utilities (gas, water, electricity), Blame on other parties/ leadres, Law & orders issues, Land-Mafias etc….. are the tactics to create fear and sense of insecurity among the people.

    Root cause of all the problems is that Pakistan need an Honest & Courageous LEADERSHIP to solve the problems. How ………………….??? VoteRecommend

  • Sonia Butt,

    First they came for the Ahmadi
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t an Ahmadi

    Then they came for the Christians
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Christian

    Then they came for the Sikhs
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Sikh

    Then they came for the Hindus
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Hindu

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak for me Recommend

  • Yuri Kondratyuk

    @Zubair Ali:
    Sorry, I meant to congratulate Pakistanis in general, not you!Recommend

  • RJ

    amir.jafri When was the last time you heard that Mosque was burnt to ashes in US??????Recommend

  • Anthony

    @amir jafri:
    Congrats on the most stupid, ill-informed and denialist comment of the day. Recommend

  • pakistani

    wht a shameful act by shameless people, @ i would suggest u tht u can re-phrase with pakistan doesnt deserve any minorities. i must ask ya’ll tht according to you all every single creatures on this earth is been created by ur allah including human beings, than who the heck give u right to kill any of ur allah creature??????? plz m looking forward to get an answer frm u guys Recommend

  • Harikesh Pandey

    @Fayyaz:
    i dn’t understand why u always compare ur society with india….u just come and see how minorities are happy here…..u talk about gujrat,assam e.t.c…..but u never think that nt only muslims even hindus were killed in those riots…and all those who were killed in gujrat and assam were human first ……i m an enginnering student studying in a christian university here,i use to attend christian prayer daily in the morning daily…i listen to the bible ….but i m a hindu….it is compulsory to attend their morning prayer for all as this is a christian university…80% of student and staff are christians….but i nvr feel that i m different from them and we all live very peacefully in the university campus…
    plz dnt compare ur country with india,just try to make ur country better than india,finally its ur pakistan and its ur responsibility to make pakistan a beutifull place on earth….. .:)Recommend

  • Harikesh Pandey

    @amir jafri:
    @Rana:
    i dn’t understand why u always compare ur society with india….u just come and see how minorities are happy here…..u talk about gujrat,assam e.t.c…..but u never think that nt only muslims even hindus were killed in those riots…and all those who were killed in gujrat and assam were human first ……i m an enginnering student studying in a christian university here,i use to attend christian prayer daily in the morning daily…i listen to the bible ….but i m a hindu….it is compulsory to attend their morning prayer for all as this is a christian university…80% of student and staff are christians….but i nvr feel that i m different from them and we all live very peacefully in the university campus…
    plz dnt compare ur country with india,just try to make ur country better than india,finally its ur pakistan and its ur responsibility to make pakistan a beutifull place on earth….. .:)Recommend

  • abhi

    “Ironically this location was less than a kilometre away from Minar-e- Pakistan, where the idea of this country was floated in 1940”
    @writer
    I couldn’t find any irony here.Recommend

  • Quantum

    @amir jafri:

    Muslims are not killed in US. I live here.Recommend

  • Nobody

    @Yuri Kondratyuk:
    Did you even bother to read Zubair Ali’s comment before replying? Recommend

  • Nobody

    @abhi:
    Look up the definition of the word irony then mate. Recommend

  • Amit

    Wow.. U people got some serious things to say abt all this… All i can say, is dat it was a criminal act by a mob who did the act under someones leadership, who is doing this for some agenda. The police has been bribed to shut up, and the mob is mostly paid dont tell me its not possible, because i know it is. No persecution ideas in the perpretators, i.e if they understand what it meansRecommend