Narang Mandi, property conflicts in village near this town
We have yet another story of influential Muslims stealing from the Christian community. The Christians in the Bhondary Wala village near Narang Mandi (about 20 miles north-northeast of Lahore, are protesting the stealing of cemetery land by a retired army Colonel. The Colonel, Farukh Alam, whose nephew is a Pakistan Muslim League politician, claimed that the cemetery land, which the Christians have owned since before even the founding of Pakistan, was in actual fact his. He says it was 'taken back' in 1983, and he has recently discovered that it is his - despite failing to provide any proof whatsoever of his claims. He has already built a boundary wall that has reduced the size of the land by over two thirds, and turning what he has stolen to agricultural use, and told the Christian community that they will need to make other provisions for burial. He has threatened and abused Christians who tried to protect and save their graveyard. The police did nothing about the complaint until a senior regional politician got involved. The colonel claims that the Christians are accusing him after incitement by an Ahmahdi with a personal grudge, and that it is all a conspiracy against him.
We also will summarise the story of a convert from Islam and the persecutions and deprivations he endured. Karachi resident Muhammad Kamram, 34, was beaten mercilessly by thugs two years ago after telling his wife he had converted to Christianity. He was troubled by the practices of his faith, the so-called 'moderate' Balrevi faction whose religious practice focuses on shrines to dead saints, and attracted by the satisfaction and love of Christian work colleagues. He started going to church, but his family beat him when they found out. He started going secretly, and managed to evade his family's watch. He was baptised in 2009, and kept the fact secret from his ultra-conservative family, although he openly questioned Islam. In 2010, his family pressured him very strongly to marry a Muslim woman in the hope of stopping his questions about their ancestral faith and he gave in to their pressure. When he told her of his faith, she said she would stand by him, but the next day she told both families. Both families started to threaten him with death every day. Then he was badly beaten by thugs - he doesn't know which family sent them. After 2 years, he is still in pain, with severe injuries to his pelvis and groin. He fled the country, and his wife got a divorce. He had to return to Pakistan a month later after his visa expired, and returned to Karachi some time later after he hoped things had calmed down. In 2011 he married a Christian woman. One day a cousin saw him and followed him home, and then told his family where he was and that he had a Christian wife. His father came and demanded he leave his wife and return home, and raised a hue and cursed him when he refused. The family fled the house and have had to move house repeatedly, whilst still receiving daily phone calls from the family threatening to kill his wife and unborn child if he did not return to Islam. His family found out where his wife works and continue to harass them. Because he cannot work, his wife must continue at her job, as she can't find better work. He cannot get the funding for the hospital operations he needs. A local politician has tried to raise funding, but nobody will take the risk because he is someone called Muhammed but whose religion is Christian. In addition, Kamram is directly discriminated against the state because the functionality for changing religion on the new computerized ID cards is disabled for those whose religion is down as Muslim.
On the issue of trauma due to persecution of Christians, BPCA came across this article containing observations and recommendations for pastoral support for Christians in Pakistan. It also covers the inferiority complex, identity issues, sense of powerlessness, anxiety and fear the Christian community in Pakistan develops as a result. It recommends a spiritual care plan for those going to Pakistan and talking to persecuted Christians
Speaking of the plight of minorities in Pakistan, yet another report has come out about the atrocious content of Pakistani educational textbooks. The report is by the Catholic group National Commission for Justice and Peace. They noticed that 1000's of minority students are forced to study Islam for fear of discrimination. For instance, the populous state of Punjab, with relatively high percentages of minority population, has made the study of the Koran mandatory for all by a unanimous vote. And in subjects like social studies, at least 20% of the material is Islamic in nature. Muslim students are given a bonus of 20 points for material reserved for those wanting to go deeper into Islam. This despite the fact that the constitution Article 22 states that no person in education will be required to take religious instruction or take part in a religious ceremony if they concern a religion that is not their own.