May 17, a deadline to Pakistani Christian to convert to Islam or die by Pakistani Taliban.
14 May 2007
Peshawar: May 14, 2007. A handwritten unsigned letter is distributed to fifty Christian families in town of Charsadda in North West Frontier Province of Pakistan
NWFP is border province to Afghanistan and touches boundaries with tribal belt of Waziristan. The remote town of Charsadda came in world limelight few weeks back when suicide attack killed dozens of participants of a rally addressed by Home Minister of Pakistan.
The threatening letter copies were attached by Christians in a complain to local area police but authorities termed same as a " Joke" instead putting up security measures for life and property of Christians.
Pakistani Christian Congress Chief Nazir S Bhatti and Central Council executive of PCC Watson Gill have expressed grave concern on this threatening letter and urged administration to adopt security measures of Christians in NWFP.
PCC leaders said in a statement " Don't take this letter as a JOKE because Pakistani Talibans issued such letters to music shops in NWFP and many video shops were bombed in Peshawar and other cities"
The threatening letter to Christian families was distributed on May 7, but authorities has not taken issue seriously which has spread wave of fear among 15 million Christians of Pakistan.
From Islamabad, AsiaNews.it reports the same threatening letter was sent to Christian communities in Charsadda and Mardan, ordering the closure of churches and conversion to Islam within 10 days on pain of execution. The police are treating it as a joke. The bishop of Islamabad has expressed deep fear and called for the support of the government the world.
The AsisNews report says: "Convert to Islam within 10 days and shut down all the country's churches: the ultimatum was delivered in a threatening letter that Muslim fundamentalists sent to Christian communities in Charsadda and Mardan, in northern Pakistan. If their orders are not obeyed, `all Christians will be executed.`"
AsiaNews says the letter was sent on May 7 to local churches, who immediately took it to the police. Feroz Shah, district inspector of Charsadda, said he had investigated the matter.
"For him," says AsiaNews "`it's a `joke`, and so `there is no need to make any arrests`. Christians, he added, `are safe and well-protected in the area.`"
Mgr Anthony Lobo, bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, does not share the inspector's view. He told AsiaNews: "This letter is not a joke, but a threat that needs to be taken seriously. It has left the Christian community of Pakistan very frightened. We have already appealed to higher powers in the country to ask for help and we will continue to do so."
According to AsiaNews, the bishop said it was important "to understand that even jokes, if aimed at minorities, could become reality. Even if this letter is the work of an isolated madman, it's possible that he may commit some atrocity against Christians."
The bishop added: "Now we must pray, but we cannot stop at that. We have already protested against this situation of fear and uncertainty and we will continue to do so. In the meantime, I appeal to the world to help us in this dangerous struggle against fundamentalism."