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Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Article 2 received via Sister Agnes Massey from the Canada Chapter of PCC

ASIA/PAKISTAN - Church points out government's lethargic attitude towards Taliban's elimination of religious minorities

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha, President of the Bishops' Conference has signed and sent to Fides a press release from the "Justice and Peace Commission" condemning "lethargic attitude on part of the government" which gives free reign to the Taliban and thereby encourages the “imposition of Jazia (a tax for being Non-Muslim) by militant organizations," as well as “kidnapping for ransom, target killing and internal displacement in frequency in Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Baluchistan.”

The Church has taken action following the recent violence suffered by the Sikh community (see Fides 25/2/2010), but which also involves Christians and Hindus: This is “frequent incidents of violence, crime posing grave threat to the life liberty and property of the members of religious minorities in the country," the Archbishop said. Referring to recent killing of the Sikh, the Archbishop said that “this was not a solitary incident of brutality against the religious minorities in Pakistan...The Federal and Provincial Governments should treat these incidents as alarm bell and must take stringent measures to control the situation."“

While the Sikh community has become an easy prey for the militants in the NWFP, the Hindu community has faced violent crimes in Sindh and Baluchistan in the past few years. Dozens of Hindus have lost their lives and property to kidnappers,” notes the Archbishop, then recalling the harassment of Christians in the Swat Valley and in many other areas. The statement says that “the Government should protect the religious minorities on priority as they happen to be one of the most vulnerable groups to social and organized crimes.” The Commission also “recommended the repeal of all discriminatory laws to promote tolerance and social harmony.” (PA) (Agenzia Fides 26/2/2010)

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