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Saturday 31 August 2013

Welcome Christian refugues, rather than Crave War

The British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) has commended one of their workers for writing to their MP concerning the recent Syria vote.  They wrote:

I am writing to urge you to oppose military intervention in Syria.  

My reasons are as follows : 

1) It is far from clear that it was the regime that carried out the chemical attacks.  I note that 

a) this would not be the first time that a false-flag operation involving chemical weapons has been carried out by non-regime actors in Syria.  There was a smaller but similar false flag operation attempting to blame the regime late last year.  

b) There are a number of anomalies, including what appears to be video shots of alleged victims of the chemical weapons attacks which were posted on youtube BEFORE the date of the incident (there have been a number of staged videos in this conflict).  I would not dismiss out of hand Syrian regime assertions that it was the rebels who staged this attack.  

2)  Even if it was the regime that carried out such attacks, the wider political situation merits extreme caution. As a human rights worker who deals with mainly Pakistan, but keeps up with issues in the Middle East, it concerns me greatly that we would be essentially siding with rebel groups, by far the strongest of whom are al-Qaeda affiliated and committing atrocities that are killing more people than these chemical attacks.  They have stated genocidal aims to wipe out all Christians and Shia Muslims and other religious minorities from the state of Syria, and they are carrying out their threats.  Whatever the moral deficiencies of the Assad regime, any punitive strike - even with the aim of discouraging other actors from using chemical weapons - would materially weaken the Assad regime and allow even worse groups to gain power.  The example of Egypt, where well organised extremist groups were already in a position to dominate and overpower the so-called 'Arab Spring' is very relevant, except in Syria the extremists are militarily the best supported and armed and organized groups. 

I would say a far better response for the UK would be to open doors to refugees, particularly Christians and those of other persecuted minorities, thereby helping save the most vulnerable targets of extremist groups.

Since the vote, the BPCA has learned from other sources of further reasons to doubt that the Assad regime was responsible for all of the deaths, including eye-witness accounts speaking of brown, foul smelling clouds of gas (Sarin, the alleged chemical weapon involved is colorless and odourless).  One human rights group with significant contacts in the area told us that they were completely convinced that the rebels were behind the attack, not the government.  

BPCA chairman Wilson Chowdhry said: 

'Regardless of the facts of this particular incident, the BPCA would like to echo and emphasize the last point.  We repeatedly hear from Pakistani Christians who complain that their persecutors seem to easily gain entry to the UK, whereas they cannot.   Pakistani Christians are not alone in this complaint.  We hear similar concerns from groups that deal with Christians suffering religious persecution in other countries.  A more fitting response would be for the UK government to facilitate those targeted Christians and other peaceful minority groups who wish to escape.  We repeatedly find that the UK has become a haven for extremist Islamic groups who are allowed to openly spout their hatred.  To facilitate the entry of Christian and peaceful groups would mean not only saving lives, but enhancing the UK with people who are more likely to integrate well, share the values of the UK, and who will not be a security threat.  The BPCA has been on record for noting severe deficiencies in the UK Border Agencies handling and approach to Pakistani Christian asylum seekers, deficiencies which extend beyond Pakistani Christians to other Christians, especially those from the Middle East and North Africa. Naively perhaps, not knowing much of the secularization of UK society and the cult of political correctness, Christians in Muslim lands tend to see the UK and the West as Christian nations who should be especially welcoming of them, as opposed to persecuted mainstream Muslims who can look to Iran or the Gulf States for support.  We call on David Cameron and the government to re-think their approach, and focus much more on actively helping and welcoming those suffering Christians and other minority groups who would soon turn out to be an asset to our society and culture if they come here, and in helping to form a stable civil society if they choose to stay in their home region.'

Wednesday 28 August 2013

A Deadly Gunman vs. the Faith of Antoinette Tuff

Joseph Loconte

We may never fully understand how it was that Antoinette Tuff persuaded an emotionally troubled young man, who appeared at her elementary school outside of Atlanta armed with an assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, to lay down his weapon and surrender to police. Her remarkable story of courage, however, has generated numerous "lessons" for America. We are hearing about the importance of emergency training in hostile situations, the easy availability of guns, the vulnerability of our schools to violent intruders, the gaps in our health care system for those struggling with mental illness -- the list goes on.
Yet the mainstream media is mostly mute about the palpable force in Antoinette Tuff's life that, by her own reckoning, helped protect the lives of hundreds of school children and preserve their families from an ocean of grief.
"How did you know what to say to him?" asked Anderson Cooper in a CNN interview last week. "How did you know the right things to say?"

Tuff answered with a frankness that makes many of us uneasy. "Well, to be honest with you, I didn't," she said. "I was just praying... in the inside of myself and saying 'God, what do I say now? What do I do now?' I just kept saying that on the inside because I knew that I had no words to say." Tuff later confessed to the 911 dispatcher at the end of the stand-off: "I've never been so scared in all the days of my life. Oh, Jesus."
To his great credit, Anderson Cooper did not try to evade the religious aspects of this story. He pressed her:
Cooper: I've heard you say that your pastor had talked about being 'anchored in the Lord.' Is that something that got you through?

Tuff: Yes. He had just started this actual series that Sunday on being anchored. And I had told myself Monday morning that I was going to get up and start studying that morning.

Cooper: That was good timing of that sermon.

Tuff: Very good timing.

Here is the singular fact that confronts every thinking person in the wake of this story: A Christian woman, who had been meditating on her Bible in the morning, says she turned to Jesus at the crisis point of her life and asked for help.

This is the quiet and honest faith of the Christian pilgrim through the centuries. It is the mysterious, intimate relationship of a human soul to her Creator and Savior. It is a faith that does not require a systematic theology, or a magisterium, or papal encyclicals, or elaborate creeds. It demands instead a humble heart, a mind "anchored," as Tuff puts it, in the Word of God and prayer. This is the ancient faith of the followers of the Nazarene, the men and women throughout history who put their trust supremely in him, regardless of the costs and dangers, and stood in the breach against the dark forces of this world.

Martin Luther, who launched the Protestant Reformation in an effort to recover this understanding of Christianity, wrote of "the courage which faith gives a man when trials oppress him." Authentic faith, Luther explained, strengthens and impels the believer to imitate Jesus and his sacrificial death for sinners as she encounters neighbors -- or enemies -- in need. "I will therefore give myself as a Christ to my neighbor, just as Christ offered himself to me," he wrote. "I will do nothing in this life except what I see is necessary, profitable, and salutary to my neighbor, since through faith I have an abundance of all good things in Christ."

That sounds like a pretty good description of Antoinette Tuff at her school last week. I found myself feeling ashamed as I listened to her voice on the 911 dispatch tape addressing the alleged gunman, 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill. She spoke of the difficulties in her own life and empathized with his struggles. She offered to become his human shield, to walk outside the school with him so police wouldn't open fire. I think I would have been content to let the cops bring him down in a hail of bullets.

But Antoinette Tuff, in her walk of faith, has learned a few things about mercy. "It's going to be all right, sweetie," she told the man as he put down his weapon. "I just want you to know that I love you, though, Okay?"

Joseph Loconte, PhD, is an associate professor of history at the King's College in New York City and the author of The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt (Thomas Nelson, 2012).

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Cecil Chaudhry conferred the President's Award for Pride of Performance

17th August 2013

Lahore: The Cecil and Iris Chaudhry Foundation (TCICF) appreciates the highest civilian award, the Pride of Performance, conferred posthumously upon Group Captain (Rtd) Cecil Chaudhry, for his educational and rights based services towards the country by the government of Pakistan.  The news of the award conferred by the President of Pakistan was announced by the Foundation on Friday.

Group Captain (late) Cecil Chaudhry served in the Pakistan Air Force for 28 years. During that period he achieved the highest level of professionalism and was one of the highest decorated officers of the Pakistan Air Force. He commanded the most prestigious fighter squadrons and set up some of the most influential fighter training schools of the Pakistan Air Force.
He fought the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971 with great valor, for which he was awarded the Sitara-e-Jurat (Star of Courage) one of the highest military awards of Pakistan, and the Sitara-e-Basalat (Star of Good Conduct) for distinguished acts of gallantry, valour and courage while performing duty.

After retirement from the Pakistan Air Force, Cecil Chaudhry went on to campaign for the rights of the marginalized in Pakistan. He fought non-violently for the rights of the downtrodden, especially the religious minorities, with bravery and determination to bring about change for the better.

When the joint electorates system succumbed to one of the darkest chapters of Pakistan’s history during General Zia-ul-Haq’s dictatorial regime who imposed the separate electorate system on religious minorities, Cecil Chaudhry termed it,  “religious apartheid” which promoted intolerance and served the purpose of ‘divide and rule’. He launched and led a campaign for the restoration of joint electorates. In 1999-2001, he called for a boycott of the local elections by the religious minorities, which was overwhelmingly successful. It took 14 long years of his life to have the joint electorates restored. A landmark achievement indeed!

In the field of education, his services were second to none. Despite numerous lucrative offers by various organizations and governments he chose to educate Pakistani children; to groom the leaders of tomorrow. He served as Principal St Anthony’s High School Lahore for 15 years and served as Principal St Mary’s Academy Lalazar Rawalpindi for four years. Both institutions excelled under his care and guidance, and for the first time in the history of these Institutions students attained top academic positions in examinations both locally and internationally.
He served on the Board of Governors of various Institutions such as the Forman Christian College Lahore, the Punjab Education Foundation and numerous others.

Group Captain Cecil Chaudhry passed away last year after a courageous battle against lung cancer.

Michelle Chaudhry daughter of Group Captain Cecil Chaudhry and President of The Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation, stated, “We as a family stand humbled and honored, it is an extremely emotional yet a moment of great pride not only for the family of Cecil Chaudhry but for the nation at large and the religious minorities in particular. It is very rare for a person to be awarded with both, the highest military and the highest civil award. My father’s contributions towards Pakistan are phenomenal; not only did he defend the borders of this country with his life, but also played a pivotal role in its welfare and development.”

Monday 19 August 2013

Faith can end Egypt’s politics of persecution

Faith can end Egypt’s politics of persecution
Joseph Loconte

Last updated at 12:01AM, August 19 2013
By appealing to the noblest religious impulses, the West can stop violence against Christians
Two days after the ousting of President Morsi of Egypt, Emile Naseem, 41, and his nephew were running for their lives. The Christian businessman had led an anti-Morsi petition, and a mob in their village of Nagaa Hassan attacked the pair with axes and clubs as they scrambled on to a roof and jumped from building to building. As one report put it: “Finally they ran out of rooftops.” Mr Naseem was killed, his nephew badly injured. That day Islamist extremists stabbed to death three other Christians and burnt dozens of homes in the village.
The attack is now considered the prelude to last week’s violence in Cairo between Egypt’s military government and the Muslim Brotherhood. But it is more than that: it represents a larger and more ominous tide of religious persecution that is destabilising societies around the globe.

Several powerful forces are at work. The Arab Spring is unleashing the hatreds of Islamic radicalism against Christian and other religious minorities. According to a report by the Pew Research Centre, countries in the Middle East and North Africa have witnessed “pronounced increases in social hostilities involving religion” since 2011. The violence may be most graphic in Egypt and Syria, where militants are targeting religious groups deemed disloyal to Islam. Shia and Sunni Muslims are no less at risk than Coptic Christians or Bahais.
Nevertheless, human rights groups warn of an “existential crisis” facing Christians in the Muslim world. In Egypt, 16 human rights groups have signed a joint statement condemning incitement to violence against Christians. In Syria, an estimated 300,000 Christians have fled the country. In Turkey, Christians have been publicly called “an internal threat, a danger and an enemy”. Iraq’s Christian population has been devastated by persecution and flight, since the US-led invasion in 2003.

In Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians, Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea blame the globalisation of radical Islam: extremists who view Christian communities as an obstacle to a “purified” transnational Islamic state. Indonesia, for example, has maintained a relatively tolerant society — until recently. Islamists have orchestrated hundreds of attacks on churches, mostly with impunity. In Nigeria the Islamist group Boko Haram — it means “Western education is sinful” — is engaged in a “pogrom” against the nation’s 60 million Christians. A recent attack on a Pentecostal church and two other Christian communities in Kano left nearly 50 people dead.

Another factor is the expansion of laws restricting religious freedom: 64 nations, making up nearly 70 per cent of the world’s population, place high or very high restrictions on religion. Muslim-majority states, which typically criminalise “blasphemy”, or religious speech considered insulting to Islam, are the worst offenders.
Pakistan has been singled out for criticism by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which sees a direct link between blasphemy laws and a culture of religious persecution. Over 18 months, it documented 203 acts of religiously motivated violence, injuring more than 1,800 people and claiming more than 700 lives. The methods included suicide bombings, drive-by shootings, torture, beheadings and mob violence.
A final factor contributing to the rise of religious persecution is the loss of what might be called civilisational memory. Secular elites, especially in the West, tend to view all religious beliefs with indifference or suspicion. They have forgotten how religious ideals can play a crucial role in solving sectarian violence. As a result, their response has been feeble and ineffective.

Remember that in the 17th century churches in England and Europe regarded religious minorities as a criminal underclass: they faced discrimination, imprisonment or even execution. Entire populations lived in the shadows because of religious differences.
How did the West overcome its legacy of bigotry and repression?

It was only when religious leaders viewed freedom of conscience as a natural right that the politics of persecution came under sustained assault. Religious thinkers from John Locke to James Madison dared to imagine a more generous approach to Christian faith. By appealing to the noblest religious impulses, by insisting upon a political system of equal justice for all faiths, they showed antagonists how to live together.

“It is not the diversity of opinions which cannot be avoided,” wrote Locke in A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689). “But the refusal of toleration to those that are of different opinions, which might have been granted, that has produced all the bustles and wars that have been in the Christian world, upon account of religion.”

We in the West seem dumbfounded by the revenge of religion: the remorseless acts of terror committed daily in the name of God. It need not be so. Abdurrahman Wahid, the late President of Indonesia, put it this way: “Beyond the daily headlines of chaos and violence, the vast majority of the world’s Muslims continue to express their admiration of Muhammad by seeking to emulate the peaceful and tolerant example of his life.”

There is a path through this wilderness of persecution, if we can summon the wisdom, courage and faith to take it.

Joseph Loconte is an associate professor of history at the King’s College, New York City.

Islamist Cleric who falsely accused Rimsha Masih has been acquitted.

Islamabad: A Pakistani court on Saturday acquitted prime suspect Khalid Chishti of all charges as six out of eight eyewitnesses retracted from their statements in a blasphemy case accusing a mentally-challenged Christian teenage girl.

The girl, Rimsha Masih, was arrested in August 2012 for allegedly burning pages containing Quranic verses but the case against her, which drew widespread international condemnation, was quashed, after evidenced emerged that a Muslim cleric (Imam) had added torn pages from the Quran to some ashes to make the case against Rimsha stronger.  The imam allegedly issued an appeal on his mosque loudspeaker,  for devout Muslim's to burn alive the Christians of the Mehrabadi village, causing dozens of Christian families to flee their town to save their lives.
Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.

Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill,Director LEAD said;

"We are disappointed with the judgement from the court in the case of Hafiz Khalid Chishti who tampered with evidence in order to implicate Rimsha Masih. We demand the Government of Pakistan to repeal all discriminatory laws including the blasphemy laws, to ensure religious freedom and expression of thought in Pakistan."

The teenager has now settled in Canada with her family - a process which was helped by a report produced by the BPCA, that enable 
Politicians there to create special status for Pakistani Christian Asylum seekers.

Wilson Chowdhry Chairmna of the BPCA said;

"Today's decision illustrates the impunity that exists for those that use Pakistan's discriminatory laws for personal gain, or simply to persecute minorities.  Witnesses originally accused Imam Khalid Chisti of undertaking the heinous evidence tampering, simply due to his hatred towards Christians and a desire to see them eradicated from the local vicinity.  It is alleged that under duress they have been thwarted from following through on their original wish to see justice served." 

He added;

"If Pakistan wishes to rid itself of the perceived corruption and injustice that has created global notoriety for the state, the Government will need to improve the rule of law and protect better those who stand for justice."

Pakistan's Tribune Newspaper highlighted how Hafiz Ashrafi the Chairman of "Pakistan Ulema Council" has expressed disappointment at the collapse of the case. The publication also alleged police coercment as a reason for the withdrawal of witness statements.  Read more here:

Saturday 17 August 2013

Christian girl tortured and raped by Police in Toba Tek Singh District

Here is a report on a young Christian Girl that has been tortured and raped by Policemen in Toba Tek Singh District, formerly part of Faisalabad.  We reproduce the report prima facie (sic):

A Christian young girl, Iqra Saddique D/O Saddique Masih of Chak No. 330 JB, Toba Tek Singh is another Christian female persecution case in Pakistan. She is hardly 22 years old and has been arrested by police in anonymous case. Against the arrest laws of females in Pakistan, she was arrested or better I say kidnapped by four male police men, was tortured in her house, on the street and on the road of her house and village and later on the police men took her on the motor bike, one sitting in front and one on the back and they torturing thereby the young lady forced her to sit in the middle of the two police men on motor cycle. This is severely against the laws in promulgation in Pakistan where only ladies police constables can arrest girls and women. Furthermore it is important to tell that Iqra's mother has not been allowed to meet Iqra during all these five days of illegal custody in City Police Station, Toba Tek Singh. These policemen not only arrest this young Christian lady, but also tortured her in front of her house, on the street of her house and on the road nearby her village. The village people witnessed it. Later on she has been taken to the city police station Toba Tek Singh, where she has been kept for five days without any legalities and she has not been produced to the court of law until now. Chief Organizer Pakistan Christian Congress Akram Waqat Gill, General Secretary Punjab Sadaf Saddique Khokhar Advocate, District Toba Tek Sing President Shahzad Fateh, Ayub Anjum of Society for Human Development as delegation went to the city police station, Toba, to inquire into the matter and met with the concerned authorities and also met Iqra Saddique. Iqra Saddique told us in front of police that she has been tortured by police men that she was tortured also and now she is in illegal police custody in City Police Station Toba Tek Singh! We were told that District Police Officer was on a place of railway track where bomb blasted in train and there we share our condolence with the DPO and then told him about Iqra Saddique. He did not respond encouraging and just told us that he will look into the matter and will ask the police station to produce Iqra in the court soon! We asked him take action against the police men who did this illegal arrest. We rely upon the fact that police is not going to take action. So tomorrow we are going into a rally protest to fight for Iqra and demand justice for her! You are requested to join with us in prayers, faith, trust and expectancy! 

Akram Waqar Gill

Friday 16 August 2013

Christian Slum area of Islamabad hit by floods - families are in desperate need of assistance.

Christian homes ravaged by the floods.

Desperate Christians living in the slum area of G-7/3 Islamabad are calling for assistance after the loss of their household items and stored foods.  

Many of the residents scrape a living working in fields and others as domestic labour or other manual work.  The deluge has temporarily stopped their ability to earn and many of them rely on a daily wage to sustain them.  Tools for trade have been swept away in the floods and community morale has reached its lowest ebb.

The Flooding in the area was exacerbated by the City mosque who emptied huge vats of stored water during the flooding, which flowed directly into the Christian slum areas.  our previous report describes the incident in more depth:

Basharat Khokar and Shamim Masih visited te site and have spoken of the immense melancholy that has engulfed Christians living in the affected area.

Shamim Masih said;

"Children who would normally play during the School holidays are helping families clean up their homes. Many of theses homes are in essence made of mud and sticks and the large volumes of water have significantly weakened the already shaky structures."

Basharat Khokar climbed onto the roof of a more stable home to survey the damage caused by the floods. He said;

"The devastation caused by the flood is visible wherever you look.  Furniture has been washed out of homes and chairs and tables are strewn around the town.  People have no change of clothes and their stores of food have been washed away causing great starvation.  They are in desperate need of assistance."

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA said;

"This years flooding has not made international news and there has been a general reticence by Pakistani media to cover the disaster, as it has in the main only affected Christian Communities.  It seems rather deliberate that all new Christian communities are in the flow route of flood water escape routes.  Government assistance is yet to materialise, and I am afraid that unless something is done soon, the affects of this devastating natural disaster are only set to get worse."

The BPCA have organised a disaster relief fund to help the beleaguered Christian community of Islamabad.  We intend to repair homes purchase new furniture and provide food and clothing to the victims of this latest natural disaster.   We draw on the Parable of the sheep and goats as spoken of by our Lord Jesus, in which He described a desire that God's people help those in need.  Here is an extract taken from Matthew 25 v 34-36 
"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'
In verse 40, Jesus goes even further and illustrates how the desire to help others is defined from God's agape love that means he fells the hurt and suffering of victims in a manner that is beyond us.  It simply say's:

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

If you are able to and  would like to donate to our relief efforts, please pay via our bank details which are as follows:

Sort Code: 20-67-90
Account number: 63468976
Bank: Barclays

Alternatively if you would like to send a one of donation please use the pay-pal facility on the top right hand corner of our blog,or simply send a cheque made payable to the BPCA  to our address 57 Green Lane, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1XG.

Duniya TV reports on the inundation.

Residents seek help after the loss of food and all their household possessions. Many do not have a change of clothes.

This wattle and daub home is collapsing after the floods, Basharat Khokhar visited this anxious family.

Residents saw water reach up to waist height fill their homes. 

Basharat surveys the destruction of the water that coursed through this community.  Many families tried to save furniture by lifting it to their roofs, by then however, little could be salvaged.

Family Of Murdered Christian Landowner Awaiting Justice

On 27th July a well respected Christian landowner in a village near Lahore was beaten and then shot dead by a gang of Muslims led by a man who had illegally appropriated some of the Christian man's land.  The murdered man was called Ishaq Masih (45), and the lead murderer was Muhammad Luqman aka Ranjha.  The murderous gang laughed as they did their bloody work, and making comments about the fact that the Christian man owned lots of land.  The killing happened in front of Masih's young sons.  The police only officially opened an investigation after the village Christians refused to bury the body and staged a protest for three days and two nights.  They promised they would arrest the suspects within a week if the Christians ended the protest and buried the body.  The Christians did so, but typically, the police reneged on their promise.  For more details, see here.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

The Targeting of ‘Minority Others’ in Pakistan: Report Executive Summary and copy of our report.

Here is a link to our report published earlier this year:


The sprawling nature of the subject matter makes a traditional chapter by chapter breakdown impossible, so this is a somewhat scattergun summary that captures the main issues. 

Pakistan is the world’s fifth most populous country, and over its existence has shown an unbroken downward trend in the standard of its treatment of religious and other minorities.  It is currently rated as the sixth most dangerous country in the world for persecution of minorities. 
• report is a rare This collaboration between researchers and activists from all the main minorities in Pakistan

•The targeting of various minorities in Pakistan has grown through time, and in part can now be described as ‘genocidal’ in scope.

 •Efforts to stem the flow of refugees and asylum seekers from Pakistan have led a number of Western countries, including the UK and Australia, into highly questionable relationships with Pakistani state agencies that are directly complicit in much of this targeted and genocidal activity, notably Pakistan’s main Intelligence Agency, the notorious ISI. 

• In the UK, the treatment of ‘failed’ asylum seekers held in administrative detention is particularly poor, with racist and degrading treatment far from uncommon, including elements of physical and mental torture and other inhumane treatment of already traumatized rape victims and children.  Reports include women stripped naked and filmed semi-nude by private security guards.  Pakistani Christian refugees, and women refugees generally, for example, are particularly badly treated by the asylum adjudication process in the UK

• Pakistani minority refugees represent a massively increasing portion of those seeking asylum in the UK, and the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has a very poor record in assessing these claims, with a high proportion of refusals being overturned at higher tribunals.  A number of their rejections contain bizarre and sometimes outright self-contradictory justifications for refusing asylum, and a consistent pattern has emerged of UKBA grossly over-estimating the integrity and moral rectitude of Pakistani police as a whole, over-estimating the viability of internal flight as an alternative to seeking asylum, combined with a decidedly rose-tinted perception of the realities of life for minorities in Pakistan.  Christians in Pakistan’s perception and complaint –whether justified or not - is that Muslims are given visa’s and asylum in the UK, but by and large Christians aren’t.  Hindu’s have more of an avenue of escape as Pakistan has a long border with India, an option not so viable for Christians. 

• Hindus (and Sikhs, to an extent) are viewed with greater suspicion due to ongoing conflicts with India.  In addition, Indian citizens who stray across the unmarked border are treated – however implausibly – as spies, and have been known to be held incommunicado in the prison system for decades without trial, undergoing torture and inhumane conditions, and without the Indian state or the Red Cross being informed.  

• Widespread and compelling evidence shows Pakistan’s notorious ISI intelligence agency is engaged in torture, lengthy detention without trial, and starvation of prisoners, both directly and by proxy, through various extremist groups, including the Pakistani Taliban.  Pakistan’s High Court has tried to take them to task for these kinds of abuse several times recently. 

• US and UK pressure on Pakistan’s authorities in the ‘War on Terror’ effectively make those nations morally complicit in the ISI’s nationwide illegal detention infrastructure.  For instance claims that MI5 officers on the ground were unaware of such mistreatment are directly and robustly contradicted by the testimony of ISI officials.  UK government promises of transparency over MI5 and MI6 operational guidelines around third-party torture have yet to be fulfilled. 

• On occasion, the UK authorities have functioned within the UK itself as an extension of the ISI’s state terror campaign, using British taxpayer’s money to covertly monitor peaceful human rights activists as alleged ‘terrorists’, as well as sending officers on long, pointless and fruitless trips to the USA and Pakistan to get information that was already known.  In one instance, they have continued to prosecute two Balochi activists for activities that a new Pakistani administration has long since publicly said were baseless and politically motivated. 

•The concept of Genocide need not necessarily involve mass killing per se.  It will also include deliberate and systematic targeting of the intended victims’ language, culture, social life, history, language and religious and cultural buildings and shrines, as well as deliberate and systematic wounding of target populations physically and mentally, and practices such as forced prevention of birth and forced transfer of children.  Anything that is organized with the goal of annihilating a population or culture and the imposing of the oppressor’s culture can be considered ‘genocidal’.

•The definitions of ‘minorities’, ‘institutionalized discrimination and racism’ and other relevant terms are discussed, along with ‘cultural genocide’ and why it should be given more attention as a concept and a tool for assessing potential genocide situations.  

•Journalists are targeted by extremist Islamic groups with the silent complicity of state agencies.  These groups are intimidating all areas of Pakistani society, to the point of being able to assassinate government ministers and state governors who oppose their agenda, and enjoy the patronage of powerful state agencies, in contrast to human rights activists who are often brutally targeted by those same state agencies. 

• Security forces participate in gruesome murders and ‘disappearances’ of various minority and human rights activists on a regular basis, along the lines practiced by Hitler, targeting the cultural and intellectual elites of their victim population.  These forces also foment denial of their acts (a classic symptom of genocide) via various front groups, claiming conspiracy against Pakistan by ‘Hindus, Zionists and Christians’. 

• The Pakistani military and intelligence forces are engaging in an ongoing genocidal campaign in Baluchistan, an originally autonomous state in the West of the country that was invaded and occupied by Pakistan after only a year in the late 1940’s.  There are reports of widespread bombardment of villages and civilians.  Currently, the state forces, as well as acting directly, appear to be using some Taliban-linked groups as proxies.  Teachers, lecturers, politicians, poets, journalists, musicians, philosophers, human rights activists and other intellectuals are ‘disappeared’, some never to be heard of again, others whose bodies appear weeks later bearing marks of extreme torture in many cases.  Evidence suggests a network of detainment centres where the tortures occur, and those who have escaped confirm torture, including rape, and the forcing of Baluchi men to rape Baluchi women prisoners on pain of having their own genitals cut off.  Pakistan also connives with Iran against their common ethnic foe, handing some prisoners over to Iran to be hanged. 

• The conflict in the Afghanistan border zone raises particular issues with regard to minority rights due to the emergency laws in place in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Provincially / Partially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA).  Another significant human rights issue in the area is the ongoing CIA and US military run drone strikes which result in disproportionate loss of civilian life.   In addition, the Taliban and its allies routinely target minorities for extortion of money, as well as targeting schools, particularly girl’s schools, which are often church-run.  More generally and widely, extremist groups like the Taliban are engaging in a rising tide of kidnappings for funds, and religious minorities and foreign aid or medical workers are a particular target, especially as the Taliban oppose immunization and believe such programs to be espionage covers or plots. 

•On top of extremist infiltration of both the armed and security forces as well as the legal community, among others, blasphemy laws and other systematically discriminatory legislation – largely based on Sharia law – provides a framework to nurture and grow ongoing and intensifying attacks on religious minorities and on freedom of religion and expression, to the point that Pakistani society and state as a whole can now be unequivocally described as undergoing a process of Islamicisation.  For instance, women’s testimony is legally worth half that of a man, and a non-Muslims testimony is half that of a Muslim, resulting in absolute legal discrimination that cycles into and from deep societal discrimination.   Denial of justice to minorities, already entrenched in Pakistani society, is growing rapidly in intensity.  Blasphemy laws trigger religious terrorism, lynch mobs and societally instigated genocidal practices – both spontaneous and organized.  Attempts to reform the application of blasphemy laws to reduce such abuses have fundamentally failed to do so.  In this area the Pakistani government seems to have bent over backwards to accommodate the worst kinds of Islamic extremism, even including officially banned terrorist groups.  Virtually every case of blasphemy is either as a result of mental illness or is fraudulent, ensuing on some personal or business dispute, or made out of religious hatred or a desire for gaining property or for the purpose of religious or ethnic cleansing of a neighborhood.  Mobs will routinely call for those arrested for blasphemy to be handed over to be hanged, stoned or burnt alive.  In the last twelve months in two separate incidents in different regions, vagrants accused of blasphemy and arrested – both of them believed to be mentally ill Muslim men – were beaten and burnt alive by mobs who stormed police stations and dragged them out into the road.  There were several similar assaults on police stations by gun wielding mobs with the same intent on other occasions. 

• Targeted persecution of Christians and other minorities occurs in every area of Pakistan, both geographically and socially.  Kidnap, rape, forced conversion and marriage of minority women and girls occurs on a daily basis, sometimes as part of the sex slave trade, with a smaller number of teenage and prepubescent boys also targeted in abuse rings and prostitution rackets.  Muslim clerics and Islamic courts approve, routinely illegally converting and marrying off such under-age girls, as converting someone to the ‘superior’ religion of Islam is deemed a virtue.  Non-Muslim women are seen as lawful prey.  Some  Islamicist groups in Pakistan even teach that any Muslim man who marries or even just rapes a non-Muslim women will be rewarded with seventy virgins in heaven forever, thus making the reward for rape equal to that of a suicide bomber or martyr.   Commercial sale of kidnapped women as ‘wives’, or giving them to supporters and followers as wives is sometimes practiced by quite senior state and national politicians.  Sexual harassment and rapes without forced marriage and conversion are endemic and an entrenched routine in some villages.  Police are nearly always complicit with the kidnappers to some level, sometimes actively covering their tracks, more often than not mocking, pressuring or beating up victim’s families, and sometimes participating in rape themselves.  Pakistani police can quite often be accurately described as criminal gangs themselves.  Those police that do genuinely try to uphold law and freedom are often sidelined or outmaneuvered or outgunned.  Particularly in Karachi, police can function as proxy armies for political groups.  In one case, the police burned a Christian man alive and raped his wife in front of their children. 

• Attacks on and desecrations of minority religious buildings, statues, shrines, religious clerics and buildings are common.  Death threats, extortion, fraudulent seizure of land and property, often in collusion with authorities or police, are routine.  Intimidation of impoverished minorities into selling their properties at dirt-cheap prices is routine in both urban and rural areas, further continuing the enforced impoverishment of such minorities.  In the worst attacks well trained gunmen open fire on Christians in churches.  In one such instance the attackers included a squad of burqa-clad female extremists toting – and using – powerful weapons.  Mosque loudspeakers are very commonly used to whip up religious lynch mobs to enforce suppression of minorities, particularly Christians.  

• Christian hospitals, churches and orphanages are often targeted for forcible or fraudulent acquisition, on occasion abetted by corrupt church leaders.   

• Rape and sexual assault of largely poor young Christian nurses in the hospital system are routine, and cover-ups are standard.  Prosecutions are virtually unheard of, and as for successful prosecutions, well…….  Vulnerable minority patients are routinely targeted for conversion by Islamicist groups who roam some hospitals freely, searching for such victims.    Christians and other minorities are routinely pressured to convert, including by financial inducement, offers of women to marry, promise of employment or promotion and/or threats of being laid off, threats or force and torture by neighbors, police, religious school students, converted family members and employers.  Sometimes simply refusing to convert is deemed as worthy of death or other severe sanctions.  In one case, a Christian farm laborer refused pressure to convert, and as punishment his two year old daughter was taken out into the fields and raped so badly that even after five rounds of reconstructive surgery, she will never be able to marry or bear children, and has to urinate out of a surgically constructed opening on her stomach.  Whilst these operations were going on the family had to live underground for years, moving from house to house to avoid Islamic extremist clerics hunting them down to kill them for the blasphemous act of daring to refuse to convert, until finally, after special pleading to a Canadian government minister, they were allowed to claim asylum in Canada. 

• Disruption of church services is fairly common.  In one case last year, Muslims burst into a church whilst the children were rehearsing Christmas carols, smashed the church up and beat the children for daring to disturb the Mosque prayers.  There have also been grenades thrown at a children’s Christmas service, where the local media then accused the parents of the injured children, many of whom were injured themselves, of throwing the grenades.

• Non-mainstream and dissident Muslims are also routinely targeted. 

• Violence between Shia and Sunni communities, as is usual through the Middle East, is in large part due to extremist groups on either side that are waging a proxy war funded by Iran and Saudi Arabia (with some other Gulf State support) respectively.  Elements of Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies also sponsor extremist groups responsible for violence against ‘other’ communities.  

• Ahmahdi’s are a particularly targeted group.  The notorious blasphemy laws include sections banning the group from describing themselves in Muslim terms, and the community is regularly faced with blasphemy charges, violent attacks and intense discrimination.  For instance, recently the Lahore Bar Association banned certain brands of drink from court premises because they are made by an Ahmahdi owned firm.  

• During recent floods, religious minorities faced widespread discrimination, being denied food and medical treatment by both Mosque based and government distribution centres at many locations, unless they converted to Islam.  There are also reports of discrimination in the compensation and recovery processes, particularly pertaining to the granting of agricultural land to those whose fields had been destroyed. 

• A number of measures designed to reduce discrimination in practice are subverted to perpetuate discrimination.   For instance, there are reports that land-mafia grabs evade rules designed to prevent communally owned minority property being seized by marrying minority girls and then using the marriage as a basis for seizing property by force or by legal stratagem.  Quotas designed to reserve 5% of government jobs for minorities to encourage minority graduates in practice perpetuate discrimination by forcing educated minority members into low-grade sanitation and cleaning jobs, whilst all too often illiterate Muslims are given supervisory posts. 

• In addition, efforts to try and improve minority political representation by allowing minorities to have an extra vote for a certain number of minority seats designated in accordance with official figures for minority populations have had some impact, but have also raise issues.  There is considerable evidence to suggest that census figures have been systematically manipulated through the history of the Pakistani state to hide the true size of minorities in Pakistan, particularly the Christian population, and given the way minority voting is organized this effectively amounts to a partial political disenfranchisement of considerable parts of the population.  Perhaps more seriously, these minority candidates are selected by the political parties which are dominated by Muslim interests, not by free election.  This means that the candidates are beholden to their political sponsors more than the minority communities they are supposed to serve, leading to a widespread perception that many minority politicians – with a number of noble exceptions – are disconnected from the concerns of the community. 

• The Presidency and several other top-level positions are explicitly denied to non-Muslims, and in most cases non-Muslims are not allowed to be judges, or else have extreme restrictions in what cases they are allowed to handle. 

• Other groups targeted have included the Jewish population  – there are now no openly Jewish people in Pakistan, although there is believed to be a few hundred left who survive by pretending to be Christians or Muslims. 

• Police are trained in Sharia laws and practice.  The legal code actually outlines laws of evidence follow Sharia principles, in that the testimony of a non-Muslim is worth half that of a Muslim, and that of a woman is half that of a man.  This is especially problematic in the frequent occurrence of cases of kidnap, rape, forced conversion and marriage of minority women and young girls to Muslim men.  Already intimidated by death threats or threats of blasphemy charges against their family, even when they do dare speak out, female minority victims of such crimes testimony is worth a quarter of their abusers, even if you leave aside the fact that their accusers are often powerful and influential businessmen or politicians, and have sympathetic Islamic scholars backing them up.  Hindu and Scheduled Caste women are particularly vulnerable as the state does not recognize their religious marriage ceremonies and contracts.  The police and legal system in Pakistan is notoriously corrupt, and as well as the normal societal prejudice and discrimination, minorities face an additional hurdle in that they are usually the poorest, and the least able to bribe their way to justice. 

• In addition, traditional tribal elder councils are a parallel system of justice in Pakistan, to whom police often defer.  Islamic courts also have a huge influence on the practice of law and order, and this is enshrined in the constitution. 

• Further discrimination is found over the issue of intra-faith marriage.   Because Islam is seen as the superior religion, it is perfectly acceptable for a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim woman – the act of marriage is seen as automatically converting her to Islam in many circles – because it is the man (dominant) who is the Muslim and the more powerful in the relationship.  However, it is socially utterly anathema for a non-Muslim man to marry a Muslim woman as it is seen as a non-Muslim demonstrating dominance over a Muslim, and an affront both to Islam and the woman’s family, and it will usually occasion violence.  The whole non-Muslim community or family is held responsible, and the elopement almost automatically considered a kidnap.  Muslim women will sometimes demonstrate, saying it is literally impossible for a true Muslim woman to consider such a relationship. 

• Domestic and sexual violence against women and children is extremely common, even normal and normative in much of Pakistani society.  Street children are almost always sexually abused within a couple of days of going on the streets, and the majority of both boys and girls on the street have been sexually abused by police officers.  Gangs often target children, especially minority children, for enforced prostitution.   For instance, this is a particular problem facing the beleaguered Christian slum of Essa Nagri in Karachi, a community which also faces regular violent attacks by Taliban groups.  Similarly, Muslim run brothels are routinely placed in minority neighborhoods, leading to sexual harassment of local woman, who are seen as ‘easy women’.  Another tactic is to induce poor minority men with beautiful wives or daughters into drugs, then blackmail them with threats of blasphemy or death into handing over the women into prostitution. 

• Homosexuality is deeply frowned upon, although an underground community exists under the radar.  
However, in parts of Pakistan there is a traditional acceptance of pederasty, and minority boys and teens are especially vulnerable to homosexual rape.  In Karachi, a number of Christian teens were seized in a series of incidents by police and never seen again, but the body of one was found the next day in the sewer, and after the Christian community forced police to conduct an autopsy, was found to have been raped and to have been killed by police bullets.    There is also a traditional class of transgender, known as hijras, who also face grave discrimination, although the government is taking some steps to recognize them. 

• Hazaras, particularly the Shia Hazaras, who form the majority of this ethnic group, are often targeted, and their strikingly different appearance mean they can be easily identified. 
• Sikh’s, Bahai’s, Zoroastrians, and traditional tribal religions also face similar general discrimination, as do many Afghan refugees.  Agnostics and atheists are known to exist in Pakistan, but keep generally underground and don’t express their beliefs openly. 

• Some of those minorities who convert to Islam do so for safety and freedom from fear.  Some have gone on record as saying that, even though officially most Imam’s say this is not an acceptable reason for converting, and it can be safely assumed that fear and safety is at least a partial factor behind a good number of conversions where those converting do not openly state this. 
• Some of these converts find they are still badly treated and so want to return to their original faith, but given that every school of Sharia law deems such apostasy as a capital crime, at least for men, this is problematic.  Any Muslim-born convert faces the same issue.  In this area, Pakistani law does not actually follow Sharia (although there was an attempt in 2006 to make it so, with death for male converts and imprisonment until ‘repentance’ for women, and all property and children removed to Muslim relatives or the state) but social attitudes generally do.   Converts from Islam face discrimination and violence, sometimes from their own families.  The convert can face being divorced and their children being permanently taken away from them, sometimes even by the courts.  Converts generally have to live underground and in fear of their lives.  In one instance, a convert from an extremist family was beaten badly, and hospitals completely refused him medical assistance out of fear of the extremists. 

• Problems of discrimination against minorities, and against converts in particular, are made far worse by Pakistan’s system of ID cards which designate a persons’ religion.  This means that minority citizens can be easily identified (in fact, ID cards with race or religion or other such ID markers are seen by experts as one of the pre-conditions for future genocide).  The system is set up so that it is easy for someone to change their entry to Muslim, but impossible for someone to change their entry from Muslim to another religion, meaning that someone who calls themselves a Christian, but has Muslim on their ID card is easily identifiable as an apostate and vulnerable to being lynched.  Even when Muslim has been put on the ID card in error, it is virtually impossible to change, as one Christian politician with a Muslim sounding name found to his very great political detriment recently. 

• Discrimination manifests in other areas of society.  In the prison system, time can be taken off sentences for successfully memorizing the Quran, but no such opportunity exists for minority members to gain freedom by memorizing their own sacred writings.  Similarly, extra marks are awarded in schools for memorizing Quranic material. 

• Minority students can face a great deal of discrimination in the education system, even in private schools.  They can face harassment and pressure to convert from both teachers and fellow students.    Christians students are sometimes schooled by the parents never to mention Jesus or get into religious debates, or to give pat answers like ‘I am a Christian, I don’t know about your prophet, I can only talk about Jesus’.  Minority teachers are often afraid to teach material that has Islamic content in case they are accused of blasphemy.  Islamic content is not confined to religious studies, but spills over into a great many subjects.  Minority children are often forced to clean the toilets, and even do teachers personal cleaning, like their houses or underwear.  There are also reports of Christian and other minority students completing their school courses successfully but being denied their certificate of completion so that they cannot enter college education. 

• Pakistani textbooks routinely overlook the contributions of minority communities and personalities to the history and social and cultural life of Pakistan, and use defamatory and untruthful language about the beliefs and practices of minority religions.   This attitude is shared by many teachers, and the problem appears to be getting worse, not better.  There is concern that the UK taxpayers money is being used to subsidize this discriminatory education via the literacy program sponsorship. 

• Minorities also face discrimination in employment.  Even for menial jobs, they will usually have to pay a bribe, and then usually face considerable pressure to convert.  Some are denied promotion or fired after refusing to convert.  Nationalization programs forced many Christians in particular out of educated jobs, impoverishing the communities further, and trapping many in menial cleaning jobs.  Christians are routinely described as ‘chuhras’ or ‘sweepers’, a derogatory term equivalent to ‘dirty nigger’.   Their very touch is often seen as contaminating, and they and other minorities are sometimes required to have separate drinking and eating utensils and to drink from separate water containers.  Sanitation jobs are often advertised as for Christians / non-Muslims only.  Even though many in such jobs work for the state, they are deliberately denied civil servant status and associated benefits by the device of firing them and rehiring them at regular intervals so they are forever ‘temporary’ workers.  Another stratagem to stop minority workers gaining permanent status in state jobs is to accuse them of theft and get them fired.
• Many minority women work as maids in the homes of Muslim families, and they are pretty much always the first to be accused when items go missing.  They are also very vulnerable to rape and sexual assault by their male employers, as well as general abuse and maltreatment.  In one case, the entire Christian population in a village was only allowed to remain on the condition that the women maids did not withhold sex from their Muslim employers, and were expelled when some Christian men complained. 

• In the private sector, minorities are often systematically denied full pay and otherwise treated in a discriminatory fashion.  Demanding full rights is likely to get you fired.  In one case, Christian brothers demanding full pay and other promised bonuses were fatally poisoned by their employer.  One corrupt bus company made it a practice to force minority staff to do illegal acts, to the point of trying to force Christian managers to assassinate former directors in dispute with the current directors, and it also made it a practice to fire those who refused and then bring charges of theft, blasphemy and other crimes to keep them quiet. 

• In rural areas, employers are often also effectively landlords, making minorities especially vulnerable.  
Employers often loan money to employees for necessities such as medical care or weddings.  It is common practice to charge high rates, but there is often one rate for Muslim employees and an exorbitantly higher rate for non-Muslims.  Changing of conditions and increasing interest rates by orders of magnitude are also common, and this discrimination is also practiced by general money lenders.  In rural areas, this has led to Christians and other minorities to be seen as slaves, who are sometimes ‘sold’ along with agricultural property and their debts to new owners.  In fact, in some cases, Muslim landlords and farmers expect and try to force Christians to work for free for them, even when they have no debt.  Refusal can have dire repercussions.  In some cases, outstanding loans have been ‘redeemed’ by kidnapping and raping the women in the family, and in a few cases partially met by forcing the ‘debtor’ at gunpoint to ‘donate’ a kidney to the growing black market organ donor business. 

• The widespread practice of bonded labor facilitates this attitude.  Bonded labor is technically illegal, but is still widely practiced, particularly in the brick-making industry, and religious minorities form a high percentage of bonded laborers – effectively slaves.   Loans for medicine and survival turn into chains of servitude, with such victims being kept in private prisons often, given virtually no food, and families can be kept enslaved for whole many generations in this way.  In some cases, ‘owners’ – and this applies to more mainstream landlords who have given loans - have abused their position by seizing other family members or family property and not deducting it from the debt, or not accounting for pay withheld against the debt.

• Minority communities are often targeted economically.  Discrimination in and of itself has economic effects, but extremist groups also target minority groups for funds, extorting protection money under the guise of ‘jizya’, a Sharia concept whereby minority religions are deemed to enter into a covenant with the Islamic administration whereby they pay a tax that guarantees certain levels of religious freedom and safety.  Criminal gangs use this concept to justify their extortion of money from vulnerable minority communities. 

•The concept of Jizya is closely linked to a concept of communal responsibility.  The actions of just one member that are considered to violate the agreement, the whole community is held responsible and liable for the consequences.  This is applied on a broader international scale, and so, for instance, Pakistani Christians are often targeted for violence to ‘punish’ them for actions by Western states which are deemed Christian states, in the same way that Muslims states are wholly Islamic. 

• Such a concept means that events, particularly blasphemy charges, can be staged or manipulated to spark a kind of pogrom or economic warfare.  Other causes can include a minority religious person standing up for their rights.  In general, these attacks are more likely when a community is deemed to get above itself – either Christians attracting converts and interest from Muslims, or a community or family becoming more prosperous than the Muslims around them, thus upsetting the social order and ideology where Muslims must be dominant, or an Imam wanting to suppress a local church that has services at the same time as Muslim prayers.   Christian communities seem to be a particular target of these kinds of attack.  Typically, Islamic Madrassas and mosques will organize the attacks using mosque loudspeakers to call for Muslims to defend Islam against the infidels, and whole communities are burned, vandalized, looted and destroyed, with especial care taken to destroy all means of economic livelihood and wealth generation or retention, as well as religious books and items.