KP Govt. Closed Six Churches Amid the U.S. placing Pakistan on Special Watch List


Shamim Masih writes about Islamic Supremacism once again persecuting Christians in Pakistan by targeting unregistered Churches with closure under the poor excuse of security.

 

JRH 1/20/18

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KP Govt. Closed Six Churches Amid the U.S. placing Pakistan on Special Watch List

 

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan (formerly NWFP)

 

By SHAMIM MASIH

Sent 1/19/2018 9:03 PM

 

ISLAMABAD: The Khyber Pakhtunkhawa [alternate spelling: Pakhtunkhwa] (KPK) province in Pakistan has sealed at least six Churches in district Abbottabad in the name of security after the United States placed Pakistan name in the Special Watch List. The officials claimed that only non-registered churches are closed. On the other hand, the KP govt. has announced monthly honorarium for 20, 000 Muslim clerics in the province.

 

According to the details the district administration at Abbottabad has officially ordered to close as many as six churches in the name of security and said the churches being established in the rental houses and non-registered are closed due to security risk. The District Police Officer (DPO) Syed Ashfaq said in his official statement that those churches have been sealed which had not been registered with the Auqaf Department.

 

According to 27th Convention of the United Nations, Pakistan is liable to take steps for the safety, protection of minorities and women rights and religious freedom in the country. And on January 04, 2018, the US placed Pakistan name in the list of those countries which are alleged violating minorities rights and religious freedom. Being on the Watch List means Pakistan is a step away from included in the “Countries of Particular Concern” list. The list includes “governments that have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom.”

 

In the meantime, on January 8, 2018, KP govt. proved it that religious minorities are not free to perform their religious services at their homes and even cannot worship in the rental houses they live in. To a rough estimate more than 10000 Christians live in and around Hazara Division and 5000 in Abbottabad district. And many of them are bared to perform their ceremonial and routine religious services.

 

Meanwhile, the Christian community across the country have termed the move as unjustified. Father Arshad Nayer, the local priest from Roman Catholic denomination said, “it would give a bad message if the government continued to seal worship places of religious minorities over minor issues.” Instead of providing security to the said churches the administration is on to close them, and it is violation of religious freedom. The poor Christians do not have enough resources to construct independent new church buildings, he added.

 

Pastor Christopher Shakar, one victim [of a closed Church – perhaps], said that his father Akram Shakar has started the Emmanuel Pentecostal Church (EPC) in 1985, and now he has taken this responsibility for seven years. On the celebration of the Christmas, the district administration has interrupted during the sermon and asked to close the service. This is violation of religious freedom given in the constitution of country. Another church, Assemblies of God has been established some 50 years back and now Pastor in charge Saleem Ghori is running it in his own house is also closed under the said so called security risk.

 

Chairman Community Development Foundation (CDF) Basharat Khokher strongly condemned the move by the KP govt. and termed it prejudicial behavior toward religious minorities in Pakistan. Talking on religious freedom, he said that the step taken by KP govt. is discriminatory and biased; the KP government is paying billions of rupees to Muslim clerics in the province and shutting down Christian worship places. From this move, it clearly shows that there is no religious freedom in the country and government imposed restriction and tries to snub the rights of minorities.

 

When asked Shireen Mazari, a senior Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) leader and member parliament, she said PTI is very clear in giving rights to minorities and not in the favor of closing any worship places. PTI central secretariat has sought written reply from CM KP Parvez Khattak on the matter of closure of 6 churches in Abbottabad district. The CM has been asked to explain the causes and motives leading to closure of churches. In a statement chairman PTI Imran Khan said that all the minorities enjoy full freedom of religion under the constitution of Pakistan. He said the PTI believes in full freedom of minorities, adding that such steps by the provincial government create a negative impression in the international community.

 

SUPPORT Shamim’s Christian advocacy in Pakistan. First contact Shamim in case he has found an easy way to donate. I like to use Western Union sending money with this LINK to the destination of Islamabad (Contact Shamim in case he has changed cities). Shamim’s email is shamimpakistan@gmail.com, Western Union may ask for Shamim’s phone – +92-300-642-4560

 

Be Blessed,

 

Shamim Mahmood

Diplomatic Correspondents

Online Int’l News Networks

Daily Jinnah & Daily Morning Mail

Journalist, Blogger and

Social Reformer

_________________

Edited by John R. Houk

Any text enclosed by brackets as well as source links are by the Editor. Also, the Editor used Spellcheck.

 

A few words from Shamim perhaps from 2016:

 

 

Shamim Masih 

 

Greetings to you! Let me introduce myself first, though many of you are witness to my professional work. I am the only Christian journalist in this arena with diverse work experience with different media outlets like Independent News Pakistan (INP), as columnist with “Daily Times” for two years, two years with one of the leading Urdu daily, “Khabrain” & Channel 5, Daily Mail and now with Pakistan Today. I have been working as lead Reporter for “British Pakistani Christian Association” since 2010. As stringer I have worked with BBC world service. Being a Christian journalist, I have been writing on minority rights and working as a social reformer/peace maker as well.

 

Vocational Institute for Christian community under threat in the Capital


Pakistani Christians Protest Peshawar Terrorism

When others bring a post submission to this blog I like to investigate the assertions made therein. In this particular submission from Shamim Mahmood I had a difficult search to verify the news Shamim has submitted. Since I have complete trust in Shamim’s journalistic endeavors based on verifiable past submissions, I have no qualms of its veracity. My difficulty could be simply the wrong search questions or the only sources are in Urdu or Pashtun of which neither do I speak.

 

So I feel the need to digress a bit. Shamim Mahmood usually signs his submissions as “Shamim Masih”. As a confused Westerner I asked Shamim to clear this up for me. And he did so. But I deleted the email response before I had the forethought to write it down. Thus I Googled the name “Masih”. Here are a few quotes from that search on the name “Masih”:

 

Arabic name meaning “Christian”. a common surname among Christians in Pakistan. (From Behind the Name: Surname MASIH)

 

Many Christians in South Asia use the name “Masih,” which means “Messiah” in Arabic. “Bibi” is an Urdu term meaning “Miss.” (From CNS article, “Death Sentence in Pakistan Spotlights Blasphemy Laws As U.N. Votes on ‘Defamation’”)

 

This is an Arabic name only used by Christians, from the Arabic Abd ‘servant’, al- ‘of’, and Masih ‘messiah/Christ’, meaning “servant of the Messiah”, corresponding to the Greek given name Christodoulos. It was borne by a ninth-century martyr who was executed for reverting to Christianity after having converted to Islam. It is fairly common among Christian Arabs to this day. (From Behind the Name: Given Name ABDALMASSIH)

 

Masih, meaning “messiah”, is a very common name among Pakistan’s Christians (From Religious Freedom Coalition: Christians Face Increasing Persecution In Pakistan – An Alleged Ally Of The U.S.)

 

Shamim’s submission pertains to the attempts by Christian ministries and charities to create the environment by which the oppressed Pakistani Christians can learn vocational and technical trades to better the lot living in Islamic Pakistan. I use the word “attempt” because the Taliban have used all means of Islamic terrorism to thwart Pakistani Christians from bettering themselves.

 

See Also: Islamabad: A technical training center for Christians faces threats from Taliban; By Madeeha Bakhsh; ChristianPakistan.com; 5/2/16)

 

The best way to SUPPORT Shamim’s Christian advocacy in Pakistan is via Western Union sending money with this LINK to a Western Union agent in Islamabad. Shamim’s email is shamimpakistan@gmail.com, Include Shamim’s phone – +92-300-642-4560

 

JRH 5/6/16

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Vocational Institute for Christian community under threat in the Capital

 

By Shamim Mahmood [aka Masih]

Sent: 5/1/2016 4:35 AM

 

ISLAMABAD: A Vocational Institute for the Christian community is under threat right under the nose of Interior Ministry in the Capital. According to the details poverty alleviation through a skill program was developed by “Pakistan Development Foundation” (PDF) and launched in 2007 with the self-generated funds in the Federal Capital. Students were registered and trained there and it had become popular in the community. Nadeem Gill, Executive Director (PDF) said that it was running smoothly but some people Umar Afridi, Zabita Khan & Javed Payra from the Khaber Pakhton Khawa (KPK) joined us for the community service. But they had bad intentions which later was revealed. Sadly, one of them from the Christian community either was deceived or by his own will turned against us. Subsequently this group threatened us and captured the institution in 2009. Mr. Gill told that he has no choice but turn to the courts. After the years’ struggle in litigation; PDF won the case and had taken charge of the institution in 2015, he added.

 

Basharat Khokher, coordinator at All Church Council, Islamabad said that PDF purchased 12 Kenals [also kanal] of land and its twelfth portion was developed for the skill training center. We had threats from Taliban split organizations and later they came in through different ways. But we have struggled hard and our fellow Muslim brother Saqib Ali and others helped us a lot in acquiring the land from the Taliban group. Finally, we were able to release the institution from the said group. Saqib Ali shared his experience and said that we have been living with the Christian community for years and we have developed good relations and in a favor to create better interaction/harmony. Though we still have threats from the Taliban group but we believe that victory is ours. Ms. Samina, the instructor at PDF was happy and said it is the grace of God that PDF won the case and now we can register new girls for the training. Skill Enhancement and Educational Program (SEEP) is our new program and very soon we will launch it, she added.

 

In the recent years, attacks on worship places and religious minorities have increased though Pakistan Islamic persecution of Christians may not be on the level of ISIS; nonetheless it is still quite horrific. The long sufferings in the country have worsened by a sense of deprivation among the locals, and an inclusive political system is unable to achieve sustainable peace and stability.

 

[The best way to SUPPORT Shamim’s Christian advocacy in Pakistan is via Western Union sending money with this LINK to a Western Union agent in Islamabad. Shamim’s email is shamimpakistan@gmail.com, Include Shamim’s phone – +92-300-642-4560]

 

Be Blessed,

 

Shamim Mahmood (aka Masih)

Journalist Blogger and Human Rights Activist
http://oiwerk.blogspot.com/

+92-300-642-4560

___________________________

Edited by John R. Houk

Text enclosed by brackets is by the Editor. All links by the Editor.

 

© Shamim Mahmood

 

No place for minorities in Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan


Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa - Pakistan map

Intro: No place for minorities in Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan

The political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) failed to win Pakistan’s parliamentary elections in May 2013. Pakistan’s big winner was Nawaz Sharif. PTI’s leader Imran Khan managed to form a provincial government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). Khan made campaign promises that implied he will bring Pakistan out of corrupt governance with the aid of all Pakistanis. The insinuation of “all” means majority Muslims, minority Christians, minority Shia Muslims, Hindus and Ahmadiyya Muslims. The term for this new united Pakistan is Naya Pakistan.

 

Of Pakistan minorities those considered on the lowest rung of existence by the majority Sunni Muslims are Christians and Ahmadis. Thus unless a Christian is a beneficiary of condoned wealth by the majority they are in some worst terms of poverty and considered social pariahs.

 

The Naya Pakistan promises or manifesto relating minorities which is allegedly is inclusive of Christians runs something like this:

 

Imran, who chose the venue of Saturday’s rally for being the site where Indian Muslims first made their official demand for a separate homeland, pledged in his speech to always “speak the truth with the nation”.

 

He went on to assure that he would wage a ‘jihad’ against oppression and side with the oppressed, including women and minorities, if he came to power.

 

“I will establish the supremacy of law, I will not have property or bank accounts abroad,” he said, alluding to accusations of corruption against politicians.

 

“It is my promise to you that I will … (Bold Emphasis Mine – ‘Naya Pakistan’ rally: Imran ignites poll drive; By AFP / Anwer Sumra; The Express Tribune; 5/24/13)  

 

Shamim Mehmood (Masih) is not trusting of Imran Khan’s promises for a Naya Pakistan.

 

JRH 7/6/13

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No place for minorities in Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan

 

By Shamim Mehmood

Sent: July 5, 2013 10:28 AM

 

ISLAMABAD: A lot has been written about the plight of minorities in Pakistan – some by the minorities themselves and some by the majority. Minority rights in Pakistan were always broken. Majority always copes while minority bears the brunt.

 

In this piece, however, I want to focus on another aspect of the statement Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leader issued, which I doubted pertaining to Christians. I heard Imran Khan many times and observed that he is not favorable toward Pakistani minorities. During the 2013 election drive, he never favored them neither has he given priority to Christians in the priority list submitted to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Christians are the biggest minority in Pakistan but placed second on purpose. [SlantRight Editor: In trying to verify Shamim’s premise that Christians are the actual largest minority in Pakistan I discovered it is depending on who you read. What is evident is that Christians and Hindus are the largest minorities. The Christian-Hindu populations are essentially neck-n-neck as to which is largest. In order to offer the benefit of the doubt to Shamim the Pakistani-Hindu population seems to be on an exodus out of Pakistan which favors the emergence of Christians as the largest minority.]

 

PTI is a pro-Islamic political party and it is clearly seen that the PTI leader has been favoring the Taliban and has been in favor of Jammat-e-Islami – which is a radical political party and an ally party of the PTI in KPK. The PTI chief had been claiming from years that his party will provide justice to every citizen irrespective of cast, creed and religion but I personally observed him as rigid/fundamentalist. Finally, the PTI nominated Chief Minister in KPK is showing the real face of the PTI after coming in power in one province of Pakistan. While delivering his statement, he said that sanitary workers (cleaning drains, streets and roads) jobs will be given to minorities (Christians, Hindus and schedule casts) only. Muslims from the province are not eligible for this job. On July 2, 2013, RAZA ROOMI and BEENISH SALEEM have spoken about this statement on CAPITAL TV in SEEDHI BAAT (Talk Show).

 

Finally, someone from the PTI has spoken and has shown the double standard of their mentality. It is worth reflecting that in Europe and America Muslims have built mosques by the thousands and practice their faith daily, and it does not cause any disruption. Lately, since 9/11 there has been some change in attitudes by Europeans’ but it is minor compared to the horrors minorities face in Pakistan.

 

Christians of vicinity have been serving the nation in the educational, health and social sectors. Unfortunately, ZA Bhutto nationalized their institutions and declared them second class citizens. Now, the PTI leader is forcing them to perform cleaning or sanitary jobs.

 

Parvez Khatak has really hurt the feelings of the minorities. Christians are disappointed from the change they planned to bring in the country.

 

Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress (PCP) has strongly condemned the statement and demanded immediate clarification from Imran Khan, chief of PTI on his party leader. He urged the Pakistani Christians to stay away from PTI because the next step might be to announce separate dress for non-Muslims in KPK.

 

Albert David – Chairman Pakistan United Christian Movement – PUCM declared it, highly insensitive, discriminatory and biased remarks from PTI leadership. PUCM chief has demanded a public apology and resignation from Mr. Khattak otherwise the PTI will face a strong protest by Non-Muslim Pakistanis if the leadership of the PTI does not take immediate action. Is this the “changing” that the PTI had been rallying for, David questioned the PTI leadership?

 

Shireen Mazari PTI spokesperson said when I asked about this statement, she sent me a text massage saying [SlantRight Editor: I am assuming Shamim is paraphrasing in English from the original language], “It was not against minorities. He spoke against the previous minister who hired hoards of sifarshis as sweepers and once in there these people said they could not do the job as they were “Muslims” and wanted to be posted elsewhere! So the CM said if these people refused to do the job they were hired for because they were Muslims and wouldn’t clean (etc.) then they should be fired and Christians who needed the job should be hired instead.” So how is that being against minorities?

 

It is amazing that the people refused to do the job they were hired for and CM declared this job is only for minorities. I wanted to ask the Christian campaigners, who have invested their time and money for this day?

 

It does make me feel that there must be some form of racism or discrimination towards people of other faiths especially in Pakistan where the minority is less valued or less valued as a worthy human being and thus are given jobs that is considered as lower-end jobs for (according to some societies) lower- class/worthless/low status people. I, however, think that is simply bang out of order. You can’t go round treating people who are not on the same level as you or who don’t share the same religion as you to give them jobs that are inferior just because they are inferior to you on the basis that they are not Muslims. It is morally wrong way to go about dealing with people.

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© Shamim (Masih) Mehmood

Edited by John R. Houk

Explanatory links added by Editor

 

Shamim Masih

Christian Rights Activist
Freelance Journalist 

Secretary General

REAP

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