ASIA/PAKISTAN - Church ransacked and Christian children beaten: a Muslim blogger defends them
Karachi (Agenzia Fides) - A Muslim intellectual and blogger took to the streets to defend the Christian children beaten in an episode that has recently shaken the Christian community in Karachi, the capital of Sindh: In past days a group of 4 Muslims attacked a Christian Pentecostal Church in New Colony Mianwali in Manghopir (an area in Karachi), they hit the children, ransacked the church, damaged the holy vessels, trampled on the Bibles and broke the sound systems. According to the attackers, coming from a mosque which is located nearby, "Christian children songs disturb their prayers".
"The local Christian community did not want to press charges - a Christian explains to Fides, a local representative of APMA (All Pakistan Minorities Alliance) - for fear of retaliation. The attack frightened the community to the extent that all nine churches in the area were closed for several days. Especially children are terrified".
To take up the defense of the small local community was the intellectual and Muslim blogger Sana Saleem who, as reported to Fides by the Commission "Justice and Peace" of the Bishops of Pakistan, said she was "shocked" and called the episode "heinous , barbaric, despicable". The intellectual, a blogger for the Pakistani and international newspapers such as the "Guardian", said that "it will happen again, because this is not just bigotry, but blind hatred that our silence feeds". The blogger also defends other religious minorities like the Ahmadis (considered an Islamic sect), victims of abuse and harassment in Pakistan, and writes: "If we do not find the strength to take a stand against bigotry, to express outrage against barbarity, to be compassionate toward those who suffer, we will be well on our way to self-destruction". In the New Colony Mianwali about 400 Christian families live in the midst of Muslim families of ethnic Pashtuns. In past days, the Catholic politician Michael Javed reported to Fides that over 5,000 Christian faithful in Karachi are victims of unspeakable violence by members of Pashtun and Islamic movements in other districts of Karachi (see Fides 14/01/2011). After the episode of Manghopir some local Muslim leaders are trying to promote meetings of reconciliation between the two communities. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 17/01/2011)
ASIA/PAKISTAN - Bhatti's Murder: the "main person behind the crime" has been killed, the perpetrators are being chased, but ambiguity remains
Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - With the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud, leader of the "Pakistani Talibans", the militant movement which is the most serious threat to national security, "who was the man behind the killing of the Minister for minorities Shabhaz Bhatti", notes an authoritative source of Fides in Pakistan. Mehsud, according to U.S. military sources, was killed two days ago by a U.S. drone in North Waziristan, a tribal region near the Afghan border. Although the Talibans have denied this, U.S. intelligence sources say that the killing is "highly likely". Mehsuad was the leader of the movement "Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan" (TTP), which left a leaflet at the scene of a crime when the Catholic Shabhaz Bhatti, Federal Minister for Minority Affairs was killed on March 3, 2011 in Islamabad .
In past days, the Council of APMA ("All Pakistan Minorities Alicance", founded by Bhatti), which met in Sindh, again called on the Interior Minister Rehman Malik to arrest and put on trial Bhatti's killers.
However, note sources of Fides, "the government has shown ambiguity on the matter": the Minister Malik has recently attributed the crime to the armed underground movement "Sipah-e-Sahaba" (SSP), claiming that the killers have fled to Middle East . He had previously claimed the responsibility to the movement Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), then the underground group "Punjabi Taliban", or the "313 Brigade" of Al Qaeda.
"Bhatti's murder has shaken the entire world, but there is still confusion about whose is responsible", notes the source of Fides, condemning "the contradictory versions of government officials". "Not surprisingly, the surveys can be biased by special interests", he says. In past months two Taliban militants had been indicated Malik Abid and Ziaur Rehman as the murderers, then they escaped to the UAE or Sri Lanka. The two have been identified not by eyewitnesses, but by the reporting of an imam in Karachi. "What stands - said the source of Fides - is that, in the current turmoil, institutional conflicts and instability that characterize Pakistan, the government does not seem to have any precise strategies, despite the proclamations and verbal guarantees, it has not so far produced concrete facts concerning Bhatti's murder". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 17/01/2012)