The weather must have shaken the fickle spirits of those weaker in the faith over this weekend. We will pray for dominion and strength for those who suffer this ailment - which I call spiritual paralysis or if your prefer SUPINE spongiform encephalopathy (SSE). If you need me to explain or translate the previous just ask..?
On a dreary cold day, for which God blessed us with a sparkling sun to counter the chill wind, we had a surprisingly low Asian Christian turnout. Overall around 12o people attended of which two dignitaries include Baroness Cox (a peer who sits on the House of Lords to clarify) and Jean Lambert a Green party MEP for London and consequently the Lead on South Asian Affairs such as those in Pakistan, that we are campaigning for. We have never in our history of protests had a such an elite, powerful or influential presence at our campaigns.
The two of them thrilled the more hardy participants at our event, who were made up of the Sikh Community, the Hindu community, the Jewish Community and even Muslims. Yet barring my family, we had a paltry 25 or so Pakistani and Indian Christians. Why is it, we as a people, must always rely on other communities to raise our concerns..? What is it that prevents the Pastors in our churches from unifying our people for campaigns such as this one. Personally, I believe it is protectionism and illustrates the need to cling onto authority and power - hardly Christian virtues, but many would believe this to be rife in our community.
The list of high profile guests at our event included:
- Helen Lowe for Women Against Fundametalism
- Clara Connolly for Women Against Fundamentalism
- Sukhwant Dhaliwal for Women against Fundamentalism
- Ranbir Singh Leader of the Hindu Human Rights Group
- Jasdev Rai Leader of the Sikh Human Rights Group
- The Baroness Cox, of Queensbury in Greater London
- London MEP Jean Lambert (Green Party)
We were somewhat surprised that some of our leaders failed to turn up the meeting with the MEP or to form part of the delegation to 10 Downing Street today. However, when we release the minutes from our private audience with the MEP, those that failed to turn up may recognise what an opportunity they have missed. Jean Lambert has shown great support for our cause and has agreed to take up the concerns we raised with the new Pakistani Ambassador to the EU.
If there are people that wish to blame the weather please explain how a concerned whit Christian from Manchester came by coach that arrived in London at 06:00? Why did snow and the cold not perturb MEP Jean Lambert or Baroness Cox. Our community has a lot to answer for!
The Pakistani Christian Contingent included my 2 year old daughter Naomi, my 6 year old Hannah, my niece Sophia 8 years old and my 10 year old nephew Asher. These young children braved the weather and returned home safe sound and without affliction - praise God. See our Lord does work wonders!! My 84 year old uncle Dr Mujeeb Chowdhry came and spoke (the Founder of the first ever Asian Christian Church in the UK). He had to travel from Surrey by train he found the energy and enlightened us all.
The Christian Community in Pakistan continues to invite the "Old Guard" from the UK to their meetings. I read the recent report from the Minorities affair meeting in Pakistan. Members discussed the most trivial of matters at this conferences in Pakistan - regurgitating the same debates we have always done that now continually revives a feeling of nauseous reminisce .
Here is an extract from the most recent minutes - does it sound all to familiar?
"Mr. Nazir Qaiser introduced the objectives of International Minorities Conference 2009 and said,” We want Pakistan a truly democratic state on the equal citizenship. Where there is no discrimination of any citizen on any basis. It must be shaped according to the vision of its pioneer.”
Allama Syed Zaheer Hashmi, Central President, Ulma-e-Mashaikh Wing, Pakistan Peoples Party said, “ The address of the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah that he delivered in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947 must be included as a part of the constitution of Pakistan and the biased Objective Resolution which was passed in 1949 must be excluded from the constitution. State affairs must be run according to the vision of its founder which provides equal opportunity to all Pakistanis without any distinction of religion, caste or creed. Pakistan must be run according to the vision of the father of the nation that he presented in the
Ms. Asiya Nasir, A Christian Member of the Parliament of Pakistan said, “We can solve a lot of problems of the minorities, if we implement international conventions in letter and spirit. Role of the Pakistani media is biased against the Pakistani minorities. The present government of Pakistan is trying to address the problems of minorities
Ms Saima Yousaf said,” State must recognize the contribution of minorities in the creation and construction of Pakistan and in different segments of development. She also emphasized the role of Christian women in the development of Pakistan especially in the fields of education and health.
Prof Kamran James demanded democratic right of vote for the minorities.
Mr. Yousaf Akhtar Chaudhary, President, International Minorities Alliance (Germany) said, “We demand equal rights for Pakistani minorities as they are provided to the minorities in the West.”
Prof Salamat Akhtar said” Our state has deliberately ignored the contribution of minorities in the curriculum. Present day Pakistan is not according to the vision of the Quaid-e-Azam who dreamed of a secular, liberal and democratic state of Pakistan which has emerged as a theocratic state right now.
Mr. Peter Jacob, Executive Secretary, National Commission of Justice and Peace (NCJP) said,” few laws should be removed and few should be included to restore minorities’ equal status.
Ms. Kalpna Devi said,” there is too much kidnapping and forced conversion of Hindu girls in the province of Sindh and government of Pakistan is silent on this issue.
Mr. Akram Gill, A Christian Member of the Parliament of Pakistan said, “Role of the governments of Pakistan has not been very much favourable about the minorities.”
Ms. Syeda Abida Hussain, the chief Guest said,” There is sense of depression and deprivation in the religious minorities of Pakistan in acute manner. We have never discussed our tragedies in detail; we never discussed the causes of the separation of the East Wing of Pakistan. We are facing economic, socio –politico and strategic crisis right now. We should solve our problems at our own, and make Pakistan a sensitive and responsible state. She also said all religions are beautiful.”
Trust me this is not a case of de ja vu - it has all been discussed again!
Real change will not be affected by talking the same issues over and over again. It is time we focused more on aetiologiocal concerns rather than the apparent symptomatic ones. The BPCA Chairman Alex Chowdhry stirred a lively consultation meeting with Jean Lambert, which once published, will give new impetus to our campaign and excite many of our readers - so do continuing to read our blog articles.
It was great to see the number of Atheists, Sikhs, Hindus, White and Black Christians and other communities including my own Muslim friends. As a group, we have always been aware of the politics in our community and hence we opened the door to a much wider participative body and behold we have achieved a great result. What amazes me, is when I spoke at the Walthamstow Church a number of promises were made that people would join us. Every meeting I have attended this year, has been equally fruitful. Yet the familiar faces were not to be seen. We will as a group continue our focus on wider participation with respect to the attainment of our primary goal of bringing equality to Pakistan. Those from our community that would like to be a part of that process, are always welcome to join us.
What all our existing leaders need to understand is that when their lives are extinguished, there will be a need for strong people to fill the gap. Development of the next generation should be a calling not a chore or threat. Our Pakistani Christian Community has few people that can fill such a vacuum. Yet in their desire to maintain authority they are snuffing out the necessary growth our community needs. We have ensured that we involved as much of the younger members of our community as possible. we encouraged the young people to lead from the front of the protest, Jessica Harris (Alperton Church) read a bible verse and the reknowned "Voice of Jesus" provided an exhilarating performance.
Pastor Amelia Jacob, Pastor Bashir Sandhu, Dr Mujeeb Chowdhry and represented our elderly statesmen.
All in all, all who attended made a real day of it and enjoyed themselves. Those who failed to attend need not fear, you will all have a second opportunity sometime next year.