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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A Christian 14 years girl, Rimsha


Rimsha Masih arrest picture

Rimsha Masih’s rescue from a potential death sentence for being accused of breaking Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws should be noted to be a team effort of Christians, especially Pakistani Christians and Muslim sympathizers of Christians. Here is some thoughts of the behind the scenes actions to liberate Rimsha.

 

JRH 11/24/12

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A Christian 14 years girl, Rimsha

 

By Shamim Masih

Sent: 11/21/2012 2:02 PM

 

The news and views

 

ISLAMABAD PAKISTAN (SHAMIM MASIH): It was around mid night in Pakistan, a young Christian girl was brought in the Ramna Police Station, Islamabad accused of blasphemy law, FIR was registered against her and the very next day, she was sent to jail.

 

Due to the fear, about 250 Christian families were living in the said area, fled during the mean time. Displaced families tried to settle down in jungle but the local residents chased them and didn’t allow them to live there for the time being although Capital Development Authority (CDA) chairman told them to set their tents for the time being.

 

Rimsha was released on bail after three weeks and had drawn international condemnation and concern about the rights of religious minorities in the predominantly Muslim country. Finally Islamabad High Court decided to throw out the case which was baseless that no one has seen her burning the pages of Quran.

 

Pakistani Christians has welcomed the IHC decision and appreciated the efforts of administration.

 

Here I am presenting the views of few Pakistani Christians:

 

clip_image002 Akram Masih Gill (Minister of the State for National Harmony) said that it’s really victory of law. He thanked the cooperation of the administration, lawyers and media for putting hands together to win the national solidarity and peace harmony in the country. It has also been proved that blasphemy law is misused and the present government has shown its interest in it which shows that misuse of the law will not be tolerated, he added.

 

Akram Gill said that it’s really victory for the Christians nation and we believe that the day has come when we need to work hard for the unity of the Pakistani Christians. Especially in Rimsha case Pakistani Muslim Ullmas have played a positive role and saved the Christians people of the said vicinity from any ambiguity, he added.

 

clip_image004Akram Gill has also arranged the temporary livings for the displaced Christians families of Rimsha case with the coordination of chairman Capital Development Authority in H-9/2 Islamabad and he said that he is also working on the alternate permanent living for those families. He went to Mardan Church right after the incident happened. He said that he always stand with the nation and would work to save his people.

 

Tahir Naveed Chaudhary (MPA and Rimsha’s lawyer): He is the man who staked his life and went to save the daughter of the nation, knowing the results of two government officials, (Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti). Tahir Naveed Chaudhary Sarghoda based and selected minority member on Pakistan People’s Party seat in Punjab Assembly.

 

clip_image006Tahir Naveed said the Islamabad High Court’s decision to throw out the case was based on the fact that no one had seen her burning pages of the Quran. The case provoked international concern and she could, in theory, have face execution under Pakistan’s blasphemy law despite her age and reported mental problems. I have seen him running in the court premises during the sun and rain. Tahir Naveed is wonderful man having heart for Christians.

 

Basharat Khokhar was seen in every picture during the proceedings of the Rimsha case in the local courts, protecting his lawyer like hundreds of other Christians who witnessed the court hearings as a gesture of sympathy with the minor girl in the case. She was feared to receive the death sentence. In the tight security in Adyala Jail Rawalpindi, where Rimsha was waiting for her bail, on September 8, 2012 Basharat as employee of police and being a Christian was deployed to provide adequate security to accused Christian girl to escort her to a helicopter from the armed vehicle in the jail compound. Basharat is seen all around.

 

Since Ayub Masih, a Christian, was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death in 1998, no one has ever been saved. But it’s the first time that in Pakistani history.

 

In August 2009, six Christians, including 4 women and a child, were burnt alive by Muslim militants and their house as well as church set ablaze in Gojra, Pakistan when violence broke out after alleged desecration of a Quran in a wedding ceremony by Christians. And the same sound was heard in this area too, But this brave man has kept the situation cool and calm in the said being a police man he had been in touch……

 

On 2 March 2011, the only Christian Minister in the Pakistani government was shot dead. Shahbaz Bhatti, minister for minorities, was shot died. He was targeted for opposing the anti-free speech blasphemy law, which punishes insulting Islam or its prophet. A fundamentalist Muslim group claimed responsibility. Those fundamentalist are threatening him now and they had tried to tie him in the fake case of blasphemy law but luckily he was saved and judge declared him innocent.

 

Mr. Basharat Khokhar started receiving life threats from unknown people in month of October 2012, on his cell phone, which he brought immediately in notice of his high officials who transferred him to a police station in suburbs of Islamabad to ensure his safety.

The threats of killing Mr. Basharat Khokhar not stopped on which he and his family are living in fear and not moving outside home for minor shopping of daily grocery and sending their children to school.

Talking to Pakistan Christian Post, Mr. Basharat Khokar said that he and his family are not feeling safe in Pakistan because Islamists believe that he knows where Rimsha is hiding who is liable to be killed for [the accusation of] defiling pages of Holy Quran.

Basharat Khokhar told PCP “Islamists threat that I am also liable to be killed for hiding Rimsha, a blasphemer, while he is not aware of her hiding place nor is he in any contact with her or her family.

 

Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress (PCC – Manifesto) has applauded judgment of Islamabad High Court IHC to drop blasphemy charges against Christian girl Rimsha.Dr. Nazir S Bhatti

 
Dr. Nazir Bhatti
said that blasphemy law is being abused to settle scores against religious minorities in Pakistan and judgment on Rimsha case have proved it. PCC demands to reopen all cases lodged under blasphemy law against Christians, said Nazir Bhatti.

Dr. Nazir Bhatti added that there are more than dozen innocent Christians behind bars waiting for their trials in blasphemy cases who have been accused on business rivalry or petty disputes with Muslim complainants.

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Edited by John R. Houk

 

Be Blessed,

 

Shamim Masih

Christian Rights Activist
Freelance Journalist
 

Secretary General 

REAP
+92-300-642-4560