Rashid Gill, voicing his concern against the Blasphamy Laws in Pakistan

[Dear editor Indus Asia Online Journal, as you know that I am a Former President of National Students Federation Pakistan and a contributary Columnist in daily “Jang”. I have received a following letter from Mr. Rashid Gill and I am forwarding it as it is for people’s review. – Faheem Aamer]

August 21, 2009

Mr. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, The Honorable Prime Minister of Pakistan , Prime Minister House, Islamabad, Pakistan

Subject: Heinous Massacre of Christians in Gojra

On behalf of the church leadership and congregation, I would like to draw your kind attention to the heinous act of terror carried out by Muslim mobs against Christians living in the village of Korian and later in Gojra in district of Toba Tek Singh. According to the information received from independent sources like “The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan”, 7 Christians were burnt alive and more than 50 houses were ransacked, looted and torched by the Muslim mobs. According to the same details, the mobs were protesting against the desecration of “Holy Quran” at Chak No. 496 JB Korian near Gojra.

As you are aware, that innocent and illiterate Christians were having a wedding party while this incident occurred. Some of the participants were throwing coins celebrating the occasion. The coins fell in a wooden box that was attached with an electric pole designated for torn verses of the “Holy Quran”. The children in shear excitement tried to get money from the said wooden box. In the process, the religious verses, which were already in the box, fell down on the floor.

Some of the Muslims saw these verses scattered on the ground and started to shout saying Christians have desecrated “Quran”. Within no time, Muslim mob gathered there and asked Christian hosts of the party to confess their crime and ask for apologies. They refused to do so. In the meanwhile, Imam of the local mosque made several announcements instigating other Muslims to teach a bitter lesson to Christians for disrespecting and desecrating the Holy book. Sensing the gravity of the situation, Christians fled their houses and took refuge at any available places leaving their houses and properties behind. The Muslim mobs looted and burnt their houses. The Police came on scene late as usual and offered no practical assistance to the Christians. The Christians asked them to protect their lives and houses but they were told that they were unable to fight against Muslim mobs. Firstly, they are less in number and secondly they do not have sufficient ammunition. They went on saying that they had only guns but no bullets. If you want, we can give you our guns and you may go ahead and protect yourselves. Even Fire Brigade trucks were not allowed by mob to put of the fire.

On August 1, 2009, Muslims gathered at the nearby small town named Gojra under the pretext to demonstrate and protest against the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran. They attacked Christians indiscriminately and burnt their houses. According to the details, nine Christians were burnt alive including innocent children. More than hundred houses were torched that day. The police force as usual did nothing to stop the crowd. This all happened right under the nose of the administration, and according to the sources, the local administration had an intelligence report from the Ministry of Interior informing the government of Punjab of these possible events. The government of Punjab called this dispute between the two groups and failed to attend this unfortunate issue at the right time. The President of Pakistan, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari had taken notice and advised the government of Punjab to take an appropriate action and report back to him. However, there was nothing done to prevent this unlawful act and to stop atrocities’ against the Christians. In fact, a group of masked men arrived from the neighboring district of Jhang, which many believe is the hub of sectarian militant organizations such as the banned, Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi . The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan later confirmed that the massacre was engineered by the Sipah-e-Sahaba and the Chief Minister of Muslim League (N) did not like to confront with Spiha-e-Sahaba. Instead, he chose to see Christians burning alive and left their house to be torched. He did announce the financial help for the victims. But the monetary compensation can never be the substitute of precious lives.

In summary, the following points need to be addressed immediately by the Government of Pakistan to rectify the distorted image of our beloved country Pakistan in the international community.

· Government of Pakistan must ensure that all minorities enjoy equal rights practically. The Constitution is meant to give equal rights to every citizen of Pakistan irrespective of race, religion creed and color and the Government of Pakistan takes pride in quoting Constitution stressing upon this privilege. But unfortunately constitution is never implemented in its true spirit. If minorities in Pakistan enjoy equal rights, then how come a member of any minority group cannot become the Prime Minister or President of Pakistan?

· In official statements of the Government, it is often said, that the root cause of fundamentalism, fanaticism and terror is illiteracy. Again, it is the sole responsibility of the Government to educate the whole society.

· Blasphemy and all other discriminatory laws are deadly weapons in the hands of fundamentalists, fanatics and terrorists. No one can dare to go against the wishes of Muslim fanatics including judges, police and administrative officers. They need to be annulled immediately.

· The lives, properties, worship places and Holy Books of all citizens must be protected and respected equally by all.

· The culprits of Gojra carnage and other places must be brought to the book to eradicate and defeat the fundamentalism and terrorism.

The culprits responsible for burning houses, looting and desecrating the ‘Holy Bible must be punished. The blasphemy law must be enforced against all those who insult Jesus Christ and the ‘Holy Bible equally.

At the end, I sincerely hope that you shall do your best to create a better understanding amongst all sides, harmony and interfaith co-operation for all residents in the nearing area of the incident and in Pakistan as a whole.

Rev. Dr. Rashid Gill

Light Bearers of Christ Church

1 Regan Road, Unit #20,

Brampton, ON L7A 1BB,

Canada

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Thanks

Faheem Aamer

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