Christian appeal USA and EU to press upon Pakistan government to repeal Blasphemy law; Nazir Bhatti


Washington DC: August 10, 2009; (PCP report) Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC appealed to US administration and EU to press upon Pakistan

government to repeal blasphemy law to ensure safety and security of life of Christian after widespread violence against Christians on accusation of this Islamic law. He was addressing here a press conference to mark “Black Day” instead of Minority Day announced by government of Pakistan on August 11, 2009. Here we are producing contents of Press Conference: Black Day by Christians on Independence Day of Pakistan Press Conference National Press Club, Washington DC August 10, 2009. 2:00 PM Gentlemen, Before discussing details of situations of “ Black Day” by 20 million Pakistani Christian nation, I must quote address of Founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah to the legislative Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947. “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or 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. Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State” Quaid-E-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah further added in his same speech “If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his color, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be on end to the progress you will make” But without any doubt after six decades, I cam comment “Mr. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, it is not a Pakistan you dreamed of but a country of Muslim militants where rights of religious minorities are crushed. Now your liberal democratic Pakistan is declared as Islamic Republic of Pakistan where Muslims are burning Christians alive, killing innocent peaceful Christians, attacking Churches, enforcedly converting Christian women, gang raping teen age Christian girls and persecuting under Islamic laws” The Christians in Pakistan are observing “Black Day” on August 11, 2009, to revive declaration of founder of Pakistan of August 11, 1947, instead of Minority Day announced by government or Independence Day on August 14, 2009. Today’s Press Conference is token of solidarity with our persecuted Christian brothers and sister and to voice for their equal basic democratic rights in Pakistan. Because Christians are treated like slaves in a country for which they voted in Round Table Conferences and before Boundary Commission. Sir, The civilized nations are at war against terrorism and Pakistan is playing an important role to root out Islamic militancy but there are doubts that efforts initiated by Pakistan shall never be long lasting when Islamic extremism is protected under constitution of 1973 of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. There are many theories presented to cap terrorism and Islamic extremism, like; to change syllabus of Islamic schools, to fund built better infrastructure, to create job opportunities and raise standard of living of communities under influence of Talibanization but all such are leading to wrong direction and a temporary solution. The Pakistan was breeding ground of Islamic militancy and terrorism and will remain save haven if factual root cause is not ousted. The enforcement of Objective Resolution as preamble and Article 2 of Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan protects Islamic extremism which can ruin an expensive war against terrorism. The presence of Taliban and Islamic extremism in Pakistan can be viewed under recent incidents of attacks on Christians to damage religious harmony. I will draw your kind attention on barbaric act of burning alive of women and children which have been never witnessed on globe in 21st centaury but this cruel, sad and horrified incident happened on August 1st, 2009, at Gojra city in Punjab when Muslim militants used chemicals to set on fire homes and burned alive crying begging for mercy 4 Christian women and one child in broad daylight in presence of law enforcement agencies. The armed militants discriminatory opened fire on innocent Christians who were trying to hide to save lives after hearing slogans “Kill infidel Christians” “Allaha-hu-Akbar” by mob of more than 2000 Muslims. The sixty homes of Christians were burnt down and 11 Christians were martyred on accusations of blasphemy law. The months of July and August of 2009, will ever be remembered as constitutional genocide of Christians in Pakistan when under cover of Article 295 B and C PPC Muslim mobs ransacked Christian property and killed Christians on alleged accusations of blasphemy. The Muslims extremists attacked and burnt down 110 homes and looted valuables of Christians in village Bahamin Wala, district Kasur on July 1st, while hundreds of Christian women, children and men fled to take refuge in fields. The police registered case against 9 Christians under blasphemy but amazingly non was registered against Muslims rioters. On July 2, 2009, Imran Masih, a Christian youth shopkeeper in Hajweri Town, Faisalabad city was attacked by Muslims on accusations of burning pages of Holy Quran but saved by police and sent to judicial custody. On July 31, 2009, Muslims after announcement in mosque gathered and attacked Christians on allegations of blasphemy by Mukhtar Masih, Talib Masih and Imran Masih of village Korian in district Toba Tek Singh and about seven kilometer from Gojra city. The Muslim mob torched 75 homes, two churches and looted valuables. There are numerous incidents of attack on Christian worshipers and desecration of Holy Bible but I shall record burning of village Shanti Nagar with chemical fire like Gojra city, Korian and Bahamin Wala in province of Punjab. The Muslim extremists used also same chemical fire ingredients to burn churches and schools in Sangla Hill, Bahawalpur, Islamabad, Chianwali, Toba Tek, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and in many other villages. The government also failed to protect Murree School, Taxila Hospital, Bible Society and Justice and Peace Organization at Karachi, from attacks of extremist Muslim groups The blasphemy law always encouraged hostility towards Christians and has been interpreted by some Muslim fanatics as a license to take the law into their own hands. In many mosques, Muslims are taught that those who blaspheme deserve to be killed immediately and that protecting a blasphemer is as bad as blaspheming itself. A Muslim is therefore duty bound by his faith to kill the blasphemer, except when such duty is shifted to the Islamic State. Apart from common fantastic Muslims the comments of one jurist are also notable when in 2000, Lahore High Court Judge Mr Justice Nazir Akhtar publicly stated that anyone accused of blasphemy should be killed on the spot by Muslims as a religious obligation (swab). He further remarked that there was no need for any legal proceedings for a blasphemer which indicated the extent of judicial bias on the subject. On other hand Islamic extremists often issue death threats against judges and lawyers. The murder of Justice (R) Arif Ibaql Bhatti in October 1997 after he acquitted Rehmat and Salmat Masih in a blasphemy case demonstrates the seriousness of these threats and the obstacles they pose to justice. Many a times, judges succumb to intimidation and convict the alleged ‘blasphemers’ despite insufficient evidence. Others give impunity to private acts of vengeance by failing to prosecute those who intimidate or incite violence against Christians. At least four Christians have been martyred at the hands of extremists. Bantu Masih died at the hands of armed fanatics in 1991. A post mortem revealed that Tahir Iqbal had been poisoned while in prison. Nehmat Ahmer, a Christian from Faisalabad, was murdered in 1992. Manzoor Masih, Rehmat and Salamat Masih were shot at outside Lahore High Court in 1995. The Muslim militants Martyred Bishop John Joseph, a first Punjabi bishop of Catholic Church of Pakistan, dioceses of Faisalabad. Many Pastors and Evangelists have been gunned down by Islamic extremists in broad day light but killers are never arrested and brought to justice in Pakistan. Martyr Bishop John Joseph was champion of Human Rights of poor people and Pakistan and frontline leader against implementation of Islamic laws on Christian. He struggled for repeal of blasphemy and was gunned down in front of Sahewal Session Courts in dark when he came to meet governments officials on an anonymous call received during a rally. It is blasphemy law which protecting Islamic militants to demand ’Jizia” Islamic protection tax from Hindus, Sikhs and Christians in NWFP. The Punjab Taliban are also receiving “Jizia” from Christian businessmen and those who deny are shot at. Is this reward for our role in creation of Pakistan? Are we free and equal citizen or conquered by Muslim aggressor in Pakistan? Why we voted for Pakistan is major question among Pakistani Christian youth? General Zia-Ul-Haq, a military ruler in Pakistan introduced blasphemy law by enforcing Prohibition and Hudd Ordinance and Section 298-A was added in an amendment in 1980 stated that use of derogatory remarks, respect of holy personages, whoever by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation, directly or indirectly defiles the sacred name of any wife or member of the family of prophet Mohammad, subject to three years imprisonment. In 1982, another amendment was made and section 295-B was added in PPC, punishable with imprisonment of life. In 1986, section 295-C, was added, the most serious, controversial and presently invoked amendment was made, a capital punishment of death penalty. The Objective resolution and blasphemy laws are contrary to Articles 9-29 of Islamic republic of Pakistan constitution of 1973, which guarantee rights of freedom and equality of citizen of Pakistan. The Pakistani Christians believe that Pakistan Peoples Party PPP government in Pakistan and Pakistan Muslim League PML(N) government in Punjab are not sincere in security of life and property of 20 million Pakistani Christians. The both major political parties have played role to legislate and impose Sharia law in Pakistan. The PPP governments have nationalized missionary institutions and martyred Christians while whenever PML(N) came in power incidents like Gojra happened in Punjab. It is time for Christian unity and to reject tools of Muslim groups in our lines. The Muslim political groups are only interested to hijack Christian vote bank for vested interest and have no program to ensure social justice in society. I will urge Christian organizations and Pakistani Christian Diaspora to raise voice on International forums against persecution in Pakistan. I will also submit that government of Pakistan entered into an internationally recognized pact with Indian government in 1950, known as Liaquat-Nehru Pact to further safeguard the minority's rights in the neighboring states. The facts to enter in this pact were that problem of religious minorities aggravated a lot during late 1949 and early 1950. At this critical moment of the history of South Asia, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan issued statement and emphasized on the solution of the problem of minorities in the two countries. He also proposed a meeting with his Indian counter part to determine how to end the persecution. The two Prime Ministers met in Delhi on April 2, 1950 and discussed the matter in detail for six long days. On April 8, the two leaders signed an agreement, which was later given the name; "Liaquat-Nehru Pact." This pact provided a bill of rights for the minorities of India and Pakistan. According to the agreement, the government of India and Pakistan solemnly agreed that each shall ensure, to the minorities throughout its territories, complete equality of citizenship, irrespective of religion; a full sense of security in respect of life, culture, property and personal honor. It also guaranteed the fundamental human rights to the minorities, such as freedom of movement, speech, occupation and worship. The pact also provided for the minorities to Participate in the public life of the country, to hold political or other office and to serve in their countries civil and armed forces. Liaquat-Nehru Pact provided for the mechanism to deal with the oppressive elements with iron hand. Islamic Republic of Pakistan is also a member of United Nation and one of signatory member state of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights announced in UN Charter have always neglected the respect of fundamental right of the creed or language, accordingly. Pakistani Christians never invited India to intervene in situations of persecution of Christian minority in presence of Liaquat-Nehru Pact when Muslim political groups of Punjab have made many such appeals in past. I filed two petitions with offices of united nations to award refugee status to Pakistani Christians when government of Pakistan failed to take notice of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC demands to repeal blasphemy law after widespread persecution violence against Christians on accusations of blasphemy. The response on my petition dated February 25, 2009, is still awaited from UNO but I will appeal again to Secretary Ban-Ki Moon to take notice of Gojra incident of burning alive Christian women and children. I will also appeal Indian government to act accordingly with Liaquat-Nehru Pact. When Christians are observing “Black Day” on August 11, 2009, against atrocities on Christians demanding repeal of blasphemy law and resignation of federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti and Kamran Michael, minority minister in Punjab government on their failure to prevent attacks on Christians in Gjra, Korian and Bahamin wala, the Pakistan government is harassing PCC and other civil society activists to create serious situation of violence. We ask government of Pakistan for necessary security measures of peaceful protests on August 11, 2009, instead of threats to impose section 144. . To secure life and property of Christian, I will demand government of Pakistan to repeal blasphemy laws and free all detained under this Islamic law. I will also appeal for an amendment in Article 2 of constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan which state as ““Islam to be State religion. Islam shall be the State religion of Pakistan.” to end Islamic extremism, terrorism and Talibanization in Pakistan. I will appeal to United States administration and EU to press upon government of Pakistan to repeal blasphemy laws to secure life and property of Christians in Pakistan. Nazir S Bhatti President, Pakistan Christian Congress PCC Editor, Pakistan Christian Post

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