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Saturday 28 May 2011

St John's Church presentation on the plight of Pakistani Christians.

Wilson talked of the abject poverty for the majority of Pakistani Christians and the persecution they face
 At the end of the meeting an informal discussion ensued during which we enjoyed Indian nibbles!

On Thursday 26th May at St John's Church in Stratford Wilson Chowdhry talked about the ongoing persecution and oppression of Pakistani Christians.

The event was organised by A Mr Glyn Morgan  who is the Men's Discipleship Group leader for the Church. Glyn has proven himself to be a man very concerned about the persecution of minorities in Pakistan.  He has been in communication with the BPCA for over a month and wanted to create a better awareness of the problems our community is facing within the homeland, amongst his group.

We talked about the history of Pakistani Christians and the visits to Taxila and Kerala from the Disciple Thomas.  Many members of the group had heard this news for the first time.

The presentation described the commonly held belief that many more Christians exist in Pakistan then purported by the Government in their inconclusive census which dates back to 1965.  We highlighted that fact that churches exist throughout Pakistan even in rural villages with few Christians, such as Asia Bibi's Ittanwala.

Signposting of major incidents including Gojra, Waris Pura, Shazia Bashir, Robert Danish (AKA Fanish Masih) and Asia Bibi shocked the group.  Many knew little if any of the existence of Christians in Pakistan.

A full description of the Blasphemy laws and the constitutional failings of Pakistan emphasised the inferior status of minorities in Pakistan to the group.  Moreover, we furnished details on the limited literacy within our community and blue collar roles our people are employed within, such as domestic servitude.

Glyn made a very important closing statement that succinctly described the major concern in Pakistan.  He simply spoke of understanding for the first time how minorities in Pakistan, live in abject poverty and are susceptible to exploitation and persecution simply for holding to the Christian Faith.  The situation for other Christian believers persecuted for their faith is often different.  In the city of Josse within Nigeria, people have the threat of physical attack and torture much of it fatal, but they do not live as second class citizens.  The violence in Josse in recent times is an abomination and the attackers have shown significant moral bankruptcy.  However the legislative and constitutional frameworks in place do not marginalise any community.

That said, the battle for peace, reconciliation, freedom and equality is one that is cultural and institutional and such systemic problems will take a concerted effort to reverse.

The group is seeking to invite us to speak before a full church and we will keep you posted.

Friday 27 May 2011

Concerns raised about election of Bishop of Multan...

Dear All

I member of the diocese of Multan a Sally Mathew, has raised concerns regarding the election of a new Bishop for the diocese.  Elections are to take place in the first week of June 2011.  The diocese of Multan has been without a Bishop for the last 6 years and Sally Mathew has noticed a significant deterioration in its direction with much infighting in the church and several Spiritual attacks, according to Mathew.

Sally Mathew was married at Multan's Cantt Church (aka Khokar Girja) and remembers much better times.  Sally commented;

"We all agree that the position requires God's calling , clean politics and self interest. I have heard a majority of people with faith say that if you want to see the worst brand of politics, see it in the church. We may agree to this or not, it is individual's perception."

His concern is not unwarranted as many of our brethren are aware of church land sales that have contributed to the personal purse of elected bishops.  These same bishops once elected can no be excommunicated for poor behaviour or corruption.  The land sales at St Joseph's church was a very acrimonious affair that split the church and resulted in threats to the lives of parishioners, directly from the Bishop of Faisalabad:

At the same time however, Sally Mathew is concerned about the existing rifts in the church diocese and hopes a new Bishop who is anointed by God, might bring about the necessary change to enable the diocesan Christian community to blossom and develop into a stronger more Godly people.

In closing Sally Mathew said;

"I encourage you to please pray that Lord brings forth the right person according to His will so that the diocese can be led faithfully and with dedication under His fear in a way that it flourishes both physically and spiritually and His name is glorified."

Thursday 26 May 2011

BPCA thanks Lahore Police for protecting Christian Community

 Our letter of thanks was delivered to the local Police force.

The Flowers spelt out a "Thank U"to the Police.

 The Police were welcoming and proved to be a very professional outfit.
 Indian sweets were offered a common gift of thanks in Pakistan.
Our team talked of the pleasant nature of the wonderful Police staff at Civil Lines station.

This morning at 09:00 at the Lahore Civil Lines Police station BPCA delegates handed over a thank you wreath of flowers to the Lahore Police, who acted bravely and promptly in resolving a conflict at St Joseph's Church Lahore, that could have escalated into significant violence.

On the 8th of April parishioners entering church for evening mass at the well known St Joseph's Church, Lawrence Road. were terrorised by a man shouting abuse whilst ripping apart a Christian Bible.  The event was insulting and very disturbing for the local Christian community causing distress and anxiety.  The aggressor was apprehended by Christian men who immediately called Police to the scene.  The very prompt arrival of Police officers resulted in the arrest, detainment  and prosecution of the felon.  This expedient response  resulted in a rapid de-escalation of an event that could have caused greater schism amongst local Christians and Muslims.

The perpetrator later confirmed his actions were a retaliation for the hurt and distress caused by thee Quran burning incident undertaken by the infamous American Pastor Terry Jones.

In a gesture of thanks the British Pakistani Christian Association organised a delegation to present  flowers with a £3kg box of mitai (Pakistani sweets) to the local police force.  Our intent was to notify the Lahore Police that their bravery and fairness was recognised globally.  We felt that recognition creates incentive for further good practice and wanted to do our small part in rewarding the positive efforts of these professional officers.

Our delegates said:

"...Unfortunately we couldn't meet with the SHO due to him being involved in a rally against hunger strike of poor victims of Pakistan.  The police welcomed us very well and  the SHO was very good natured. We are really thankful to the staff of the Civil Line Police Station for their positive response and cooperation in organising the event and looking after our community.  We have handed over the 3kg of mitai, the flowers as per your instructions.  Our team who visited the Civil Line Police Station are Waqar Peter Gill, Babar Bashir and Samuel John.  Thank you for the efforts of the BPCA"

Our letter of thanks contained the following words:

Dearest Lahore Police Force, 

RE: Your professional conduct in tackling the Bible desecration at St Joseph's Church, Lahore.

The British Pakistani Christian Association send its grateful thanks for the professional manner in which your Police conducted themselves, during the Bible desecration incident at St Joseph's Church. Lawrence Road, Lahore on 8th April 2011.  Your prompt and efficient delivery of service nullified local community schism and is a credit to your Police authority and Country.  You have shown yourselves to be brave and honourable men and Christian across the globe are praying for you and acknowledge your commitment to peace and local crime reduction.  You have made the Global image of Pakistan one that is significantly more favourable then other recent events had tarnished.   

God bless you all 

Kind regards

Wilson Chowdhry
British Pakistani Christian Association 

Ps The bearer of this letter is a confirmed Pakistani delegate for our organisation. 

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Gujranwala the pain returns!

Just when we thought the moribund police force of Gujranwala was going through a period of improvement, fresh allegations of subversive tactics in preventing justice have been refracted through the eyes of our correspondents in Pakistan.

In another twist in the ongoing saga based on the maltreatment and illegal incarceration of a  young upwardly mobile Christian and his father, has once again, soured perceptions of fairness in Pakistan's much scrutinised society.  

The latest news from Gujranwala is disappointing and mirrors the usual expectations of the bungling police, that are susceptible to bribes and coercion.  This turn of events comes after an initial display of professionalism with no previous comparison in Pakistan. Especially when dealing with a Blasphemy case against Christians....

The most important detail of the current situation is that Neither Farrukh nor his father has been released and their are reports that they have been beaten in Prison.     A Reverend Eric Isaac is also imprisoned after calling for a violent response to the original threats and protests.  Despite the admittance of guilt with regards to the burning of the Quran, Mr Qari Irfan has not been prosecuted under the Blasphemy Laws of Pakistan, but is being held for his involvements in the protests against the Christian community of Gujranwala.

Our commentator believes that their is a significant Muslim lobby calling for the release of Mr Irfan and that terrorist charges are being levied against the unfortunate Rev Eric Isaac.  Charges have been dropped against Farrukh and his father yet their imprisonment has prevailed.  Many local people of all faiths are questioning this unlawful detention.

Our informant in Pakistan spoke candidly of the events unfolding in Gujranwala, he commented;

"We heard that there has been an arrest of qari irfan qadri and he had admitted that he did all this twice. that person has already married a christian women and wants more as his wives.due to this confession of qari and than the beating done by police, the people were looking ashamed and quite, many people said that it was the last time when they'll go in any some pastors and other christian figures along with Mullahs of the area with the support of police announced that now there will be no more fighting and hatred among the two communities. the Aziz colony has been named Aman colony (Peace colony) and the main square from where every protest and hate was launched right in front of anwer khokhar's house was named Aman Chowk.

He further commented;

"Now the current situation is that except Gill father and son  Rev Eric Isaac, they have released all christians.
if Rev.Eric Isaac is charged under terrorist act, i don't know why are they not releasing Mushtaq and Farrakh andGill. Farrkah has been beaten several times by the police and there are torture marks on his body....
the previous CPO was the one who was incharge when Gojra incident happened and he said that he will not let anyone repeat Gojra and my tears for Gojra haven't gotten dried yet.
but on the other hand many policemen were heard saying that christians have done this all so why are they afraid now to face it."

Christians in Gujranwala are suffering a real loss of faith in the police and are seeing their quality of life eroded before them.  Many have spoken about their concerns that the city will not be able to recover from the increased schism and polarisation that has evolved as a consequence of this very messy incident.  It has been said that conflicting stories perpetuated by local media publications has fuelled division and sowed significant seeds of hatred.

Recent revelations regarding the arrests of local extremists has exacerbated the sense of helplessness felt by local Christians in particular only a week has passed since a terrorist was caught from Tattaly Wali 20 kms from Gujranwala.  The felon is said to be a  Saudi national and was training children to be the next set of insurgents. The local Community were rocked when it was reported that another suicide bomber was apprehended from Nowshehra road in the city of  Gujranwala itself.  This insurgent was preparing "Pressure Cooker Bombs".

We have been informed that one of the prominent voices in the Gujranwala protests Mr Sharif Changar was arrested due to telephone calls monitored from his house, in which he was plotting a terrorist attack.  Our informant commented;  

"..weapons were also found in his house and after that a suicide bomber was arrested along with a women and kid from Sharif Changar's sister's house."

The purported arrest of the woman and child at Mr Changers house is said to have taken place on the 12th May 2011.

We have been advised that information is slow to be released and that at the moment no further threats have been made to the Christian community of Gujranwala.  The local Muslim community in general have been supportive and many have spoken to our local informant telling him they do not believe that local Christians could be complicit in the Quran burning incident.  This being the case our informant showed surprise and concern that none of them came out to voice their concerns, or counter protest against the more militant groups.  In closing he said;

"many muslim parents said to me that we knew christians cannot do this but it is also a fact that none of them even dared to call and ask about my or my family's condition or offer any help?"

Until the release of the innocent Christians caught up in this messy affair and prosecutions of the true perpetrators of the crime, no sense of justice can be assumed to have taken place.  

It is imperative that we pray for justice for Gujranwala Christians and the BPCA also calls UK readers to write to your local MP's and the UK Pakistan High Commission, calling for the release of the innocent victims.

Email the High Commissioner of Pakistan using this email:

Find contact details for your local MP here:

Tuesday 24 May 2011

UK Catholics to Join 2nd July Protest!

John Pontifex Head of Press and Information to Aid to the Church in Need

We are pleased to announce that today a leading international Catholic charity has confirmed

Mr John Pontifex, Head of Press and Information of Aid to the Church in Need (UK), received our request for a Catholic speaker directly from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales. The request followed a meeting between Wilson and Fiona Paley, Public Liaisons Officer for Westminster Cathedral, London SW1.

John, who has edited a series of international reports on persecuted Christians and has travelled widely across the Middle East and the Asian sub-continent, has kindly agreed to speak at our event. His talk will draw on his fact-finding visits to Pakistan and close liaison with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan.

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is recognised for its expertise on the suffering Church in Pakistan and the charity is directly under the authority of the Vatican.

Aid to the Church in Need is supported by 100,000 or more people in the UK and as an international charity fulfils 5,000 projects every year in 140 countries. The charity’s projects include the training of priests and nuns, building churches, printing and distributing Child’s Bibles and other Christian education programmes, Catholic television, radio and newspapers and emergency help for people fleeing persecution.

We include ACN’s aims and objectives which have been taken directly from the charity’s website.

Our Mission

Helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action 

Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. In the UK, the charity has a national office in Sutton, Surrey and a Scottish office in Motherwell. 

Our objectives 

As set out in the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Charitable Company the objects of Aid to the Church in Need’s mission are:
  • to advance the Christian religion by supporting and promoting the Church, especially in countries where Christians are suffering persecution or discrimination;
  • to further the other charitable work of the Church by providing practical assistance and pastoral care for persons in need, especially those who are living in, or are refugees from, such countries.

Our work around the world 

Each year Aid to the Church in Need makes grants to help fund around 5,000 projects, primarily in the following areas:
  • provision of catechetical material and books
  • broadcasting the Faith
  • help with church buildings
  • support for the training of seminarians
  • grants for the formation of religious and catechists
  • subsidies for priests through grants and Mass stipends
  • emergency aid to refugees
  • provision of transport for those involved in the Church’s mission.

    More info on Aid to the Church in Need can be found by clicking the link below:

Where our Flood Appeal money went...

 A School roof destroyed due to the 2010 Pakistan floods.
 Funding provided by Yousaf Arman (BEd) former Deputy Head of Government Boy Scout High School, Walton, Lahore Cant ( father of and chaperone to my wife), to Robin Bashir of Peace Education School System
 The School banner a useful enterprise surviving on donations, that provides free education to Christian children free of charge.
 Our money went in part towards resources for the school such as books, writing pads, pencils, rubbers and sharpeners.
 For many this is a foundation step to greater things and a way out of their economic nadir.
Juliet my wife is on the left she was offered a garland by the lady on the right who was so grateful that people in the UK were remembering their community. 

Yousaf Arman himself a former teacher pleased to hand over tools for education to future generations.

Excuse the photographs, a professional photographer would have taken valuable money away form the poor people that needed it.  When they knew we were form the UK prices rose tenfold and so we just obtained photos from locals with cameras.  The pictures above were provided by Pastor Robin Bashir.

Whilst in Pakistan Juliet undertook the work that I intended to complete regrading our collection of funds for flood relief.  This was in the absence of my authority to travel to Pakistan due to false claims of an assault that were later dropped by the High Commission, after they were asked to provide video evidence.    

My wife travelled to Kasuar a place just outside Lahore that has been ravaged by the recent inundation.  This is no mean feat with 3 children and she should be commended for her diligence and perseverance, at a time when electrical shortages in the country are at a maximum.  Juliet herself was born and lived most of her life in Lahore so is not to averse to the weather conditions and poverty that exists in Pakistan.  Her reports on the devastation caused by the deluge, however are not pleasant reading.  

People are still living in tents whilst they remake their mud homes in certain areas, children are forced to eat on the floor due to a lack of any furniture.  In the home of a local councillor at which Juliet was invited to rest the children ate around the floor of the kitchen near where their mother was preparing food.  This house was blessed with a dilapidated table and 4 chairs, many have no furniture only Charpai - tough stringy beds made from metal posts and thick string - which are extremely uncomfortable and induce back problems. Juliet sought permission to eat with the children, but the home-owners wanted Juliet to eat at the table and so not to offend she obliged and took one child on her lap.  

They provided a basic meal of roti (unleavened bread) and dahl (pulses), this actually happens to be Juliet's favourite and she talked of how well the food had been made, despite cooking equipment limitations.  The conversation was joyous and despite the abject poverty Christians face in Kasaur you would could not detect this hardship through their comment or expressions.  These are a hardy people used to harsh conditions who make do with minimal resources in a manner many of us more privileged people living in the west could not comprehend.  

Juliet looked into the request for donations from the school and was impressed with the vision of the leadership, linked to the local church exhibited and evidenced through the work they were undertaking. 

Juliet spoke at the school and was impressed with questions from the children many of whom asked her about the UK.  They were able to connect with Juliet herself a Pakistani Citizen and fellow Christian.  Juliet enjoyed a time of fun , fellowship and worship and was impressed with the bible knowledge exhibited by the small children.

The needs of the school are quite immense and with a small budget Juliet had to decide on how best to assist with our limited funds.  She offered 30,000 rupees towards the repair of the flood damaged roof.  She also provided food for the day for all the students and teachers for a Easter celebration, unfortunately a load shedding power cut meant that it had to be called short and children took the food home with them.

Juliet was elated by the wonderful welcome she got, usually camera shy she felt obliged to have her picture taken with a lady so full of gratitude for the love shown by British people, that she bought a garland for Juliet.  Juliet has described the damp squalid conditions many can live in.  Their is a lack of drainage in the streets and many homes are below the height of the road causing water logging.  Sewage travels within internal perimeters of peoples home causing a real stench,  and visible health and safety concern.  Much needs to be done to create a more aesthetic and healthy environment for these beleaguered people and millions like them across the country.

Whilst in the area Juliet provided 4000 rupees to local widows who had no source of income, these were cash donations that would help the poor women, survive a hazardous economy.  They need more help and we would like to provide the four widows with sewing machines that would enable them to earn an income for themselves in the safety of their homes.  If you would like to donate please click here:

The remainder of donations were spent on providing food; 10 kilo bags of flour, 2 kilo's Sugar, 1 Packet of tea bags and 1 Kilo of cooking oil (not Ghee) and 1 Kilo Dahl, to starving families at Shiddara.  We will write a full report on this in due course. 

The need for food, sanitation equipment new housing in Pakistan is a significant priority.  People living in flood hit areas are forced to drink unclean water, their access to food is limited and Christian community are still often being overlooked to aid workers that prioritise Muslim communities or use aid as a lever for religious conversion.  

Pastor Robin Bashir said:

Dear Brother Wilson
Gretting you in the name of Holy Lord Jesus Christ
I am Pastor Robin Bashir from Lahore Pakistan. I got your offering through sister Juliat and Uncle Yousaf Arman.
We are thankful to you for all your support for our church and school.
We have started and new free education school in Rukha Wala Kasaur under Peace Ministries International. Ruka Wala is around one hour drive from Lahore. There are around 90 poor christian families. We started this project to educate them and initially we started with 40 kids and now we have around 50 plus. We are providing free education at montissory level. Initially we didn't had any proper building for school and we used church building for school purpose also. With the self support we were able to start construction of school but we were short of funds to start construction work for Ceiling of school building. With your support are able to continue this project.
We received below mentioned amount from Sister Juliet
  1. 30,000 PKR for ceilingPublish Post
  2. 4,000 PKR for widows
  3. 1200 PKR for entertainment of congregation and school kids
  4. 1700 PKR for conveyances to chruch at Rukha Wala.
We are  very thankful to you and sister Juliat for support and encouragement. May GOD use both of you in His way and bless you both 

Thanks and Regards
Pastor Robin Bashir 
Peace Ministries International

Monday 23 May 2011

Christian concern for Pakistan!

Peter Norris and Andrea Minichiello- Williams both from Christian Concern and Alex and Wilson Chowdhry during the launch of the Not Ashamed Campaign!

We are pleased to announce that Andrea Minichiello-Williams one of the Director of Christian Concern a group primarily focused on removing the marginalisation of Christians in the UK, will be speaking at our protest on the 2nd July:

From their website I detail the aims and objectives of Christian Concern:

At Christian Concern we seek to introduce a Christian voice into law, the media and government. We believe that by doing so, society as a whole will benefit.
In order to make a difference we lead the church in campaigns to encourage Christians to stand up and speak out on issues that matter.
We have been at the forefront of every major legal and political battle where Christian values have been challenged. We raise a Christian voice in the media and we have placed many stories in national newspapers and on television. We seek to put the hope of Christ at the heart of the nation.
We draw upon a broad body of support including an e-mail subscription base of over 33,000 supporters.
The inspiration for Christian Concern has come, in particular, from David Clark, Ade Omooba, Sam Solomon and Andrea Minichiello Williams.

Andrea contacted the BPCA about 1 year ago concerned about the treatment of Christinas in Pakistan, she has a real heart and passion to see justice for the persecuted church.  Although this is not a primary concern for her group Andrea has shown great support for the BPCA and other groups working with the persecuted church.

We are particularly pleased that Andrea has taken up our invite to speak at the protest as we know how she is an eloquent and articulate a speaker.  We are sure her words will serve great purpose in directing our thoughts to how we can all channel our efforts more cohesively and effectively, thus bringing eventual reform in Pakistan.

If you would like to learn more about Christian Concern  please follow the link below:

Saturday 21 May 2011

Women beaten and made publicly nude while their men were beaten with sticks!

We have received this article and publish it for you prima facie:

By Jawad Mazhar
Special Correspondent for ANS, reporting from Pakistan
LAHORE, PAKISTAN (ANS) – Two more shocking cases have surfaced in Pakistan where Christians were badly treated by Muslims.The first concerned two Christian women working at a Lahore, Pakistan, hospital, who were allegedly “manhandled” by a leader at the Fatima Memorial Hospital on Tuesday, April 19, 2011.
A source close to the situation said that Nusrat Bibi and Muneeran Bibi, who are both married female sanitary workers at the hospital were “brutally thrashed” and “unlawfully detained for several hours,” after being assaulted by a Muslim officer at the medical facility.
Now on April 21, 2011, a First Information Report (FIR) was lodged against the man at the Ichchra Police Station, Lahore.
According to information obtained by ANS, the man allegedly snatched a cellphone from Nusrat Bibi and money from Muneeran Bibi.
Our source said that when the women resisted, he began beating Muneeran Bibi by punching and slapping her on the face and kicking on her legs. Then Nusrat Bibi was slapped and beaten with a wooden stick which the alleged attacker had pulled out from a stand placed in his room. He also tore up her shirt when she raised an objection to their physical search.
“They were kept in illegal detention for about 9 hours,” said the source.
The Community Development Initiative (CDI), an affiliate of European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) is now probing the case.
In another disturbing case, this one in Jalal Pur Jattan, a town located in the Gujrat District, Punjab, Pakistan, the Christian Communication Network Pakistan (CCNP) told ANS that “a gang of Muslim men, on the behest of a former member of the Punjab Provincial Assembly, “invaded two Christian houses” in the city. The incident was said to have taken place on Friday, May 13, 2011.
Adnan Sher, an activist of CCNP, said that a Christian man, Sharif Gull, was abducted at gunpoint by the Muslim “hoodlums.”
Adnan Sher then alleged that the Muslim mob also attacked at the house of another Christian man, Idrees Asif. He added that the alleged culprits, armed with clubs, thrashed the men and women of Asif’s family and ripped off the cloths of the Christian women and made publicly nude.
Another authentic source said a case against the Muslim politician and his accomplices was registered at the Jalal Pur Jattan Police Station.
At press time, the former Muslim political leader has filed a plea in the local court of Gujarat to secure an interim pre-arrest bail.
A local daily newspaper also accused the local Gujrat Police of allegedly favoring Muslim former provincial legislator of Punjab, and his unknown accomplices.

Friday 20 May 2011

Girl of 17 years held hostage in Muslim home until eloping lovers are brought to the captors!

A Christian girl of only 17 is being held hostage until her brother returns to her captors with the Muslim Girl he has fallen in love with.

A Christian boy Sajid Masih the brother of the captive victim is said to have eloped with the Muslim daughter of a local wealthy.   The act has created animosity between the Muslim Families said to number around 1800 against the 80 - 100 local Christian families.

Compass Direct have reported on the issue:

An influential Muslim family in a village near Sheikhupura is holding a 17-year-old Christian girl hostage because one of her brothers allegedly eloped with a woman from the Muslim family.

The Muslim parents have threatened further retaliation against the Christian family if they do not produce their daughter, whom they have also threatened to publicly shoot dead as an “honor killing.”

An area clergyman identified only as Father Emmanuel called the situation “critical,” saying it has pitted the area’s 1,800 Muslim families against its 70-to-100 Christian families and could lead to violence.

“It’s always been like this,” Emmanuel said. “No one objects when a Christian girl is forcibly taken or dishonored by a Muslim man, but when a Muslim girl falls in love with a Christian boy it becomes a matter of their honor,” he said.

Abid Masih, a welder at a factory in Sheikhupura, about 40 kilometers from the Punjab Province capital of Lahore, told Compass by telephone that the family was asleep in their home in Ghazi Minara village on Friday night (May 13) when armed Muslims belonging to the village’s influential Gujjar family arrived at their doorstep.

“When I opened the door, the men told me that my younger brother, Sajid, had eloped with a girl from their family, and they had come to search for them,” Masih said.

He said he tried to convince them that the family did not know Sajid’s whereabouts, as he had not been home for two days, and they began threatening to harm Masih unless his family found the runaway couple and handed them over.

“By this time my maternal uncle and cousin had also come out, and together we tried to tell them that we didn’t even know that Sajid was having an affair with the girl, so how could we know where they had gone?” Masih said.

The Muslim woman who allegedly eloped with Sajid was identified as Saleha; both are in their early 20s.

Masih said that the men then forcibly took him, his younger sister Rakhel, his uncle Mukhtar Gill and maternal cousin Indryas with them to their house.

“As soon as we reached their home, they started beating and cursing us and continued to torture us all night” in an effort to get them to disclose the couple’s “hideout,” he said.

Masih said that at daybreak on Saturday (May 14), the Gujjars freed the three Christian men but kept Rakhel hostage in their home, saying that she would be returned only after they found and handed over the couple to them. Rakhel is in her early 20s.

“We were helpless,” Masih said. “The Gujjars are very powerful, and we could not convince them to send Rakhel with us. Since Saturday we have been trying to locate Sajid but failed.”

The Muslim family has sternly forbid them to report the abduction of Rakhel to police, warning that they would be unable to escape the consequences, he said.

On Monday (May 16), Masih said, Saleha’s father, Aslam Gujjar, telephoned him and told him that if the family did not find the couple soon they would also abduct Rakhel’s 17-year-old sister, Maryam. The next night, the Gujjars released Rakhel and forcibly took Maryam, he said.

Masih said the Gujjars have announced that they would shoot Saleha dead in the village center as an “honor killing” for eloping with the Christian.

“They have warned us that if we approach the police, they will turn the issue into a religious matter, and the bloodshed there would make the Gojra carnage small by comparison,” he said. At least seven Christians were burned alive by Muslim mobs in Gojra after the spread of a rumor of blaspheming Islam on Aug. 1, 2009.

Emmanuel, who has long ministered in the area, said he was trying to help reduce tensions.

“We are trying to talk to some local Muslim leaders to convince the Gujjars that it was an individual’s action, and they should not vent their anger at the innocent family, but it seems an uphill task at the moment,” he said.

Asif Aqeel, director of European Centre for Law and Justice’s branch office in Pakistan, told Compass that his organization was in contact with the family and was considering measures to address the situation.

“We were quite perturbed over Rakhel’s abduction and have been thinking of ways how to resolve the situation amicably, but now Maryam’s kidnapping has forced us to rethink our options,” he said.

Aqeel said the options include registration of a criminal case over the abductions and enlisting a court bailiff to recover Maryam from illegal detention, but this could exacerbate tensions, as the Gujjars are influential and would be forewarned by police of an impending raid.

“A failed raid may endanger the lives of the entire family and imperil the security of other Christians of the area,” he said, adding that family members were also caught in a dilemma as the Gujjars had threatened retaliation if they sought legal assistance.

Aqeel said they were trying to gather mediators from both sides to convince the Gujjars not to hold the entire Christian family responsible for Sajid’s apparent action.

“This is perhaps the safest way to avoid bloodshed and rescue the Christian girl, who is left at the mercy of the angry Muslims who feel they have been dishonored by a ‘petty’ Christian,” he said.

Maleeha Lodhi talks on Pakistan!

A packed house heard Maleeha speak on the issues facing Pakistan.
Mrs Lodhi spoke eloquently and with sound knowledge.
I was compelled to buy her book simply termed Pakistan.

The previous UK High Commissioner for Pakistan Maleeha Lodhi held a conference on Pakistan at the House of Lords on Tuesday 18th May.  The event was a debate on how to bring about reform to Pakistan so that it could become the, strong, wealthy, powerful equal and fair society that Jinnah envisaged when he set about on the route for it's creation.

Mrs Lodhi's comments were very informative, comprehensive and she held a very insightful view on the situation in Pakistan.  There was a sticky moment for me when Maleeha spoke of the collaborative attempt to demonize Pakistan by external forces and media in the west.  However, she countered this view with a comment that reflected on the overall blame for the demonization that fell on Pakistan, as one of its own making.  This she believed was based on inner political turmoil that had led to military despotism and extremist pressures that had decimated Pakistani society as a whole, leading to the recent polarisation and persecution evident in today's society.

She called for greater equality and rule of law and a return to the vision of the founder of Pakistan Muhammed Ali Jinnah.

Mrs Lodhi has edited a book termed "Pakistan" it contains some fascinating insights on the situation in Pakistan and provides a way forward.  Although it provides no panacea to the derivative concerns of the political and economic situation in Pakistan, the ideologies presented in the book are still uniquely profound and worth a read.  I do not promote books generally in my postings but the first two chapters of the book which I have read, talk sensibly on the true enemy for Pakistan ( it's internal extremists), and the true vision of a democratic, untheocratic Pakistan that was promulgated in many speeches by Qaid -e-Azam.  

I remember Maleeha Lodhi from when she visited my second Redbridge Carnival event, she was a caring woman with a real passion for Pakistan and its diaspora in the UK - irrespective of faith.  As a High Commissioner there could not have been a more loyal or credible Ambassador for Pakistan to the UK.  I personally wish her well in all that she does.