Stories about Christian

Christmas in Maryland

Ijazz Yousaf was born in a church in Anarkali, Lahore, the year of Pakistan’s birth. A resident of Maryland since the mid-80s, he has worked in a government job with mentally challenged citizens. Living in a suburb in Maryland with his wife and children, Yousaf  invited me to interview him and his family about their life in Pakistan and Christmas preparations. As we stand in his front yard, surveying the twinkling lights of the Christmas decorations in the garden, he says: “ It was a different time, no one cared what your religion was.” In a year when the blasphemy law has ...

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Religion, reality and red wine

First three Hindu men are murdered in cold blood and then, a week later, a Sikh woman is raped in Sikhism’s holy city. In both cases, the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan remained faithful to its contemptible conduct. It yawned while condemning the incidents, rubbed its eyes as it promised speedy justice and then promptly went to back to bed. As for the killing and rape, these are not just two isolated incidents. They are evidence of our subconscious hatred for anything dissimilar: one small controversy and it comes of age; sometimes leaving us with debris of fallen temples, ...

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Minority rights: A tale of two divorces

It is the middle of the year 2004; two young married ladies, Parveen Amanual and Asia Tabassam, who reside in the same locality of Rahim Yar Khan, come to the court. They are both hard done by their husbands, and want to get a divorce. Their divorce cases were, thus, duly filed against their husbands. By the end of 2004, within a period of four months, Asia Tabassam was able to get her divorce, and she is now re-married living with her second husband and three kids. Parveen Amanual, however, did not have the same luck. It is 2011, ...

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A long wait for Aasia Bibi

She has already suffered a lot but it looks like a longer, more painful and tiresome journey lies ahead for her. Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman sent to the gallows by a district court in central Punjab last year for committing blasphemy, will have to wait for several years before the Lahore High Court (LHC) takes up her application, seeking review of the lower judiciary’s verdict. Lawyers associated with the case have indicated that it is unlikely that the LHC would take up any time soon the review petition in arguably the most ‘controversial’ case in the country’s recent legal ...

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Pakistan, a place where non-Muslims also live

A lot has been written about the plight of minorities in Pakistan – some by minorities themselves but mostly by the majority. In most such reports, analyses and blogs, the focus has been on the aggressive tactics used by a violent and regressive few to intimidate and persecute the middle to lower-middle class of Christians and Hindus. I speak not of Ahmadis, as the persecution they face is a more severe one resulting in death and legislation-led despair. Theirs is a plight I pray for daily. In this piece, however, I want to focus on another aspect of the issue that ...

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‘How could you serve breakfast to a Hindu?’

Early one morning, a few days ago, I left my hometown Umerkot for Mirpurkhas with some friends. On the way we stopped for breakfast at a roadside cafe. What followed was an incident that left me shaken, although it involved no violence. While we were eating, a man with a long beard approached the café owner. We could clearly hear the conversation. He was telling the owner off for having served breakfast to us: “Tum Hinduon ko bhi nashta karwate ho?” (So, you serve breakfast to Hindus too?) The owner responded: “Kisi ke maathay pe likha hua nahi hota ki koi Hindu hai ya ...

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The Gojra case: Between sanity and madness

Toba Tek Singh, a city in Punjab was immortalised by Saadat Hasan Manto’s short story of the same name. The story, based a few years after Partition, chronicles the lives of a bunch of lunatics living in an asylum, unable to fathom whether they are in Pakistan or India. The story itself is a gripping indictment of the senseless events that occurred during Partition as the characters remain deluded somewhere between sanity and madness. In many ways, this enduring legacy of Partition still remains as a black spot on Pakistan’s identity. In 2009, riots broke out in the outlying ...

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Gojra slaughter: Keeping the faith

While the reopening of the Bhutto case has the courts frothing and fulminating and the newspaper headlines screaming, perhaps one should give thought to another case, in which, little progress has been made in bringing justice. I speak of the Gojra case of 2009, in which hundreds of people were initially charged with murder and violence in a Christian neighbourhood in the town situated in Toba Tek Singh district. Eight Christians, including four women and a child, were burnt alive when attackers set 40 houses and a church ablaze following allegations that members of a local Christian family had desecrated ...

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Let’s be hopeful this Easter

Every Sunday I see a police van parked outside the church’s main gate. On special events, the authorities have to ensure the security guards are vigilant before we begin the mass. The scouts take care of the vehicles outside (although once my hand bag and other valuables were stolen from my car while we were praying at the church). At the entrance, a metal detector is installed and every person is subjected to frisking and manual checking in case of suspicion. We have to finish the mass early so we can reach home safely, avoiding any kinds of mishaps. Churches ...

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My Lent prayer for Pakistan

This year, Lent began on March 9 for Christians. Lent is a period of fasting leading up to the feast of Easter, recalling Jesus’ 40 day fast in the wilderness, where he had to struggle with hunger, thirst and the temptations of the devil. In Catholic churches, ashes in the shape of the Cross are applied on the foreheads of all Christians. It is a symbol that we are from “dust and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). It reminds us that God created everything and no one has superiority over Him. Through these 40 days of lent, Christians should give up ...

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