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Letters from Tokyo
By Lee Jay Walker
Christians and other minorities in Pakistan continue to face enormous discrimination and persecution, and in extreme cases, but not rare cases, many Christians have been killed by either Muslim mobs or by state sanctioned policies. Therefore, the endless suffering and discrimination in Pakistan must come to light and the international community must put more pressure on the government of Pakistan to act, and to rescind brutal laws.
Pakistan is currently in crisis and much of the current crisis in self induced because it is clear that Pakistan supported radical Sunni Islam in Afghanistan and Kashmir for decades. Now the very same Sunni Islamic radicals who were supported by the security services in Pakistan have decided to turn Pakistan into another radical Sunni Islamic nightmare. Therefore, the ongoing “year zero Islamization” is leading to more hatred and this hatred is also being aimed at all minorities.
Even worse, for Christians, and other minorities like the Ahmadiyya Muslims and Hindus; they are suffering at the hands of radical Sunni Islamists, institutionalized laws which discriminate against minorities, government indifference, police bias, and every day discrimination where individual Muslims can abuse their power.
Emmanuel Y. Mani wrote an article on 11/10/2009 which was published on http://www.asianews.it and he stated that the “Blasphemy laws include Article 295, Sections B and C, and Article 298, Sections A, B and C, of the Pakistan Penal Code. These laws were incorporated into the criminal justice system between 1980 and 1986 by then President of Pakistan Zia-ul-Haq, supposedly to ensure respect for the Prophet Mohammed, his Companions and the Holy Qur’an. These laws are unique in the contemporary world because they allow dubious charges to be brought against people who have been subjected to extra judicial killings, arson and destruction of their property.”
“From 1986 to October 2009, at least 966 persons were accused under the blasphemy laws, 50% were Muslims, 35% Ahmadis, 13% Christians, 1% Hindus and 1% with no known religious background. At least 33 persons have been killed extra judicially after allegations were made against them; 15 were Muslims, 15 Christians, two Ahmadis and one Hindu.”
This law is not only being used against Christians, Hindus, and Ahmadiyya Muslims, but it is also being used by the dominant Sunni Islamic sect in Pakistan in order to crush all alternative voices or the law is being manipulated on any grounds in order to bypass real justice.
Last year on September 15th a young Christian male called Robert Fanish was found dead in his cell. Of course, the usual mantra was stated and a cover up was started from the start but clearly he had been tortured and victimized. The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) which is a Catholic-led advocacy group, however, stated that the brutal death of Robert Fanish was an “extra-judicial murder.”
Therefore, in modern day Pakistan this Sunni Islamic madness continues and now they are killing each other in the north of the nation, while causing mayhem in Afghanistan. At the same time, they are killing minority Christians, Shia Muslims and Ahmadiyya Muslims. It is like a state of madness with no end game apart from complete Sunni Islamization and then an internal Sunni Islamic war on the grounds of who is the most radical.
This madness led to 6 Christians being burnt alive last year and numerous other attacks. More recently, we have a 12 year old Christian girl called Shazia Bashir who was raped and tortured to death according to local Christians and advocacy groups.
Shazia Bashir was employed in the household of a wealthy Muslim lawyer and like many poor Christian domestic workers in Pakistan, she suffered abuse, however, her abuse would lead to her death but will justice be done in Pakistan?
A Protestant NGO, Sharing Life Ministry Life (SLMP), gave details about the young Christian girl. They stated that she had been working for eight months and that she had suffered constant stress and had been treated harshly before her death. This applied to ill treatment, verbal abuse and other forms of mistreatment.
SLMP chief coordinator Sohail Johnson commented “…that 99 per cent of Christian girls from poor families are hired by wealthy Muslims, and are often physically, psychologically and sexually abused.” He continued by stating that “In some cases, their employers marry them off to Muslim servants, and forcibly convert them to Islam.”
Sohail Johnson also mentioned about the failings of the government of Pakistan in protecting Christian girls. He states that “These vulnerable Christian girls do not have any state protection. We urge the government to ensure protection of these disadvantaged girls.”
Therefore, in 2009 we heard about Christians being burnt alive in Pakistan and many other cases of violence which was aimed at Christians and other minorities. Sadly, the same pattern is continuing but this time it is the brutal murder of a young Christian girl and many Christians doubt that justice will be done.
In Pakistan it is clear that Christians, Ahmadiyya Muslims, Hindus, and others, face an uphill struggle and death and persecution is never far away. However, what makes the situation worse is that it is not only radical Islamists who are persecuting all minorities but it is also the state apparatus of Pakistan.
The cycle of violence, intimidation, and persecution, can only be imagined from a distance. Yet the daily terror caused by Islamists and the betrayal of the institutions of Pakistan means that this nightmare is ongoing. However, will the international community just “turn a blind eye” or will outside pressure be put on Pakistan?
Lee Jay Walker serves as Tokyo Correspondent of The Seoul Times. He specializes in int'l relations and geopolitics. He is also involved in analyst work and research on business. After finishing BA degree in East European Studies at the University of London, he earned MA degree in Asia Pacific Studies at Nottingham Trent University. Website at http://www.leejaywalker.wordpress.com where work is published.