Christians, Sikhs, Hindus and other minorities throughout Pakistan recount numerous horrific incidents of attacks and threats and express an overwhelming sense of fear. Minority Rights Group International, a watchdog organization, had ranked Pakistan as 'the world's top country for major increases in threats to minorities since 2007'. The group also lists Pakistan as seventh on the list of 10 most dangerous countries for minorities, after Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar and Congo.
Religious minorities are believed to be much more than the estimated figures of 5 percent of Pakistan's 160 million population as Christians alone represent 5 to 6 percent of the population. However, Pakistani census intentionally keeps minority figures low to deny them greater representation. The unabated killings and persecution of religious minorities and smaller sects of Islam raise questions about Pakistan's regressive direction. Ironically, much of Pakistan appears oblivious to the cancerous sectarianism that is consuming a society that seemed tolerant until the 1970s. The audacity of the killers and state inaction are even more worrying.
ATTACKS AGAINST CHRISTIANS IN PAKISTAN
The last three decades have witnessed atrocities, attacks and discriminations being committed against Christians in Pakistan. Increasing violence against Pakistani Christian children has been disturbingly evident all through 2012. Many Christian girls were kidnapped, raped and converted to Islam by force and even killed as in the case of Amariah Masih, who was shot dead on November 27, 2012, for resisting a Muslim man, Arif Gujjar's attempt to rape her.
Christian children are frequently abducted and killed for nefarious purposes, as in the case of an 11-year-old Christian boy, Samuel Yaqoob, who went to the markets of Faisalabad to buy food for his family, never to return. His body was found mutilated and without any internal organs on August 17, 2012.
Another Christian boy, Waiz Masih, the 14-year-old son of Kramat Masih was killed in Islamabad on 19 August, 2012, by young Muslims, after a "discussion on religion". The boy was savagely beaten by the miscreants and then thrown unconscious into a canal where he died.
On August 15, 2012, a Christian girl, 12-year-old Muqadas Kainat, was ambushed in a field near her home in Sahiwal by five Muslim men who “gang raped her and murdered” her. Police, as usual, did not arrest anyone. Christian children have been accused of blasphemy as Rimsha Masih, a 14-year-old Christian girl suffering from Down's Syndrome, who was arrested on false charges of blasphemy in August 2012. Ryan Stanten, a 16-year-old Christian boy has gone into hiding along with his entire family after he was accused of sending text messages denigrating the Prophet Muhammad to friends and neighbors in the city of Karachi. Protesters ransacked his house and torched the furniture on 10 October, 2012
Sabir Bashir, a Christian teenager was tortured and killed in October 2011 in Khanewal District, Punjab, by Muslims for "land grabbing". Criminals who want to steal the land belonging to Christians attack their children, who are seen as easy targets for intolerable abuse and acts of inhumanity.
There have been several hundreds of attacks all over Pakistan against Churches and Mission Schools. In 2012, at least six churches have been attacked, looted, fired upon or set ablaze in Pakistan. Most remain unreported as police avoid registering offences and the press keep away to avoid getting into complications. On February 23, 2012, a dozen armed Muslims stormed the Grace Ministry Church in Faisalabad and seriously wounded two Christians stating that the church was trying to evangelize Muslims. Sajid Masih was hit by bullets while Boota Masih, was pushed off the roof after being struck repeatedly with a rifle butt.
• St Francis Church in Old Haji Camp area in Karachi was attacked on 9 October, 2012, by a violent mob of about 100 Muslims who pelted stones at the doors and windows of the church, damaging the Marian grotto and parishioners' vehicles parked in the compound.
In Iqbal Town in Islamabad, on December 25, 2012, when Christian worshipers were coming out of different churches after Christmas services, more than one hundred Muslim extremists equipped with automatic rifles, pistols and sticks attacked Christian women, children and men. Ashraf Masih, while running to save his life was hit by a bullet in his leg, Iqbal Masih received bullet injuries to his leg and arm, Shahzad Masih was beaten with sticks mercilessly, Yousaf Masih was seriously injured while more than one dozen Christian women, men and children received injuries.
• On September 21, 2012, violent mobs of Muslim protestors torched the Lutheran Church Mardan, built in 1937, the only Christian place for the 600 Christian families living in Mardan city. They stoned the church, desecrated the altar, tore copies of the Bible and prayer books and set everything on fire. St Paul's high school, a library, a computer laboratory and houses of 4 clergymen, including Bishop Peter Majeed were also burnt down.
Half of the targeted churches are situated in Essa Nagri in Karachi which has a relatively large Christian population.
• Philadelphia Pentecostal Church of Pakistan, situated in a congested lane of Karachi’s Essa Nagri locality was attacked for the second time this year, on 18 October, 2012, when armed men broke into the church from a graveyard situated next to it during a power outage. The rampaging Muslim mob broke the windows, threw the Bibles on the floor and took away cash donations worth Rs 40, 000.
• A group of people praying in a mosque were so irked by the voices of children singing carols at a nearby church that they decided to silence them by attacking their house of worship. Muslim men stormed into the Philadelphia Pentecostal Church in New Mianwali Colony in Manghopir on 11 January, 2012, slapped the children, wrecked the furniture, smashed the microphone and kicked the altar stating that the children's singing was disturbing their prayer.
• A property of the Catholic Church in Garhi Shahu worth billions of rupees was razed by the Punjab government on 10 January, 2012. The property housed a home for elderly people, a girls' school, a convent and a Chapel which were all demolished with no notice of eviction or transfer served on the legal holders of the property, the Catholic Church, Gosha-e-Aman.
• The Seventh Day Adventist Church, also located in Essa Nagri was attacked on 19 May, 2012, when armed men barged into the church compound seeking illegal electricity connection from a pole, just before the evening mass was about to commence. Resistance by the worshippers resulted in firing which injured Aftab Bhatti Khairat Masih, 40, Khurram Afzal, 20, and Khurram Ishaq, 15.
• St Luke’s Church, situated opposite the house of minority parliamentarian Saleem Khokhar, was also attacked in May 2012.
• Nasir Masih, 24, and Rafi Masih, 25, were shot dead on September 15, 2012 when five gunmen entered their homes in Karachi's Essa Nagri neighborhood and shot and killed them at close range.
Christians in Pakistan are a small and vulnerable minority with no political or economic power. There is an urgent need to protect them from violence and atrocities, propaganda and prejudice, which are being fuelled by fanatic clerics and anti-Christian groups. The Pakistani civil society and the media should stand up boldly for the safety and security of the peaceful Christian community who live in fear in their own country even though their contributions to the educational and social progress of the Pakistani nation are un-matched.
ATTACKS AGAINST SIKHS IN PAKISTAN
Kidnapped Sikh trader found murdered in PakistanTuesday, January 8, 2013
The dismembered body of an abducted Sikh community member was found in Chora area of the Khyber Agency on 8 January, 2013, official sources said. Mohinder Singh, who was running a shop of herbal medicines in Tabia area of Bazaar Valley in Khyber Agency, had been kidnapped by unknown armed persons from his shop on 20 November, 2012.
Canadian Sikh business woman murdered in PakistanAugust, 2012 40-year-old Kaur, a Canadian Sikh business woman, went missing on August 25, 2012, on the very same day that she arrived in Pakistan. She was later found murdered by Shahid, a German national of Pakistani origin who owed her money. He was aided by his accomplice Hafiz.
Two Sikhs beheaded in Pakistan Sunday, February 21, 2010 Two Sikhs who were kidnapped a few weeks earlier by the Pakistani Taliban were beheaded on February 21, 2010 in the country's restive tribal belt in a brutal act by the militants. The body of Jaspal Singh was found in the Khyber tribal region, located a short distance from the provincial capital of Peshawar, while the body of Mahal Singh was found in the Aurakzai Agency.
ATTACKS AGAINST AHMADYYAS IN PAKISTAN
Pakistan's Ahmadis, declared non-Muslims by the majority Sunni Muslims in Pakistan, face increasing levels of violence in the country. For Islamic fundamentalists the Ahmadis are a heretical sect that cannot claim to be Muslim because they do not recognise Muhammad as the final prophet. Karachi, October 4, 2012 Khawaja Zahur Ahmad, 64, a peaceful and respectable Ahmadi man, was shot dead near his home in Satellite Town. A few months prior to Ahmad's assassination religious extremists had gathered outside his home shouting slogans. He was gunned down in Pakistan for following his faith. Thursday, 18 October, 2012 In Sialkot District, Riaz Ahmad Basra was shot dead in Ghatialian. Friday, 19 October, 2012 A newly married Ahmadi man of Baldia Town area of Karachi was killed and his father, brother, and father-in-law were critically injured when they were attacked while returning home after Friday prayer services.
Karachi,23 October , 2012 2 Ahmadi men Abdul Hamid Khan and Bashir Ahmad were target killed in Baldia Town. Sunday, 24 June, 2012 A member of the Ahmadiyya community, Aslam Bhatti, 34, was sitting in his computer shop in Baldia Town on 24 June 2012, when armed men riding on motorcycles shot at him four times. Bhatti tried to duck two bullets but a bullet ripped through his shoulder and another through his jaw, leaving him critically injured. Bhatti, the father of three daughters, had reportedly received death threats by people in his locality who called him an infidel and asked him to leave the area.
ATTACKS AGAINST HINDUS IN PAKISTAN
Although no formal figures are available, anecdotal evidence and human rights groups say that attacks against Hindus have risen in the last two years, with temples and worshippers targeted, especially in Sindh province. Hindus in Pakistan worry about the future of their families in a land of religious bigotry. Jacobabad, August 7, 2012
A 14-year-old Hindu girl Manisha Kumari, who was kidnapped in August, 2012, from Jacobabad city in Pakistan's southern Sindh province, has been forced to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim man, said her father Rewat Mal. The kidnapping and forced conversion of the young girl sparked widespread concern within the minority Hindu community which resulted in the exodus of several Hindu families from the region.
On 2 December, 2012, six-year-old Vijanti Meghwar was brutally raped in Ghulam Nabi Shah village, Umerkot, in the Sindh province of Pakistan. Vijanti belongs to the Meghwar community of the country’s minority Hindu population. She was found unconscious and lying in the street in a pool of blood. The heinous crime was made easier as the minority Hindu community was powerless and helpless in a land of mass intolerance and bigotry.
In February 2012 over 200 Hindus fled Pakistan after 19-year old Rinkle Kumari was abducted from her village Mirpur Mathelo in Ghotki province of Pakistan, and subsequently forcibly converted and forcibly married. Her abductors had powerful political connections and after two months the country’s supreme court ruled against her parents.
ATTACKS AGAINST SUFI MUSLIMS IN PAKISTAN
The number of people who informally follow Sufi traditions is believed to be in the millions in Pakistan. They have long been condemned as un-Islamic by fundamentalist groups because they worship saints and perform music and dance.
A powerful explosion killed at least 3 people and wounded more than 20 others when a bomb planted in a bicycle exploded near a Sufi shrine in Pakistan's northwestern city of Nowshera on October 28, 2012. The explosion took place near the main gate of Kaka Saheb shrine while people were visiting it on the second day of the Muslim religious festival of Eid-al-Adha.
A bomb on a donkey cart killed three people and wounded 21 on June 21, 2012 at a Sufi shrine in Pakistan’s Taliban-hit city of Peshawar. The dead included a five-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl who had come with their parents to the shrine.
A medium-intensity bomb bomb went off on November 3, 2012, at the Phandu Baba shrine in Chamkani, a suburb of the provincial capital. The bomb which contained three kilograms of explosives caused extensive damage to the shrine. No casualties were reported. On the same day, the shrine of an 11th century Sufi saint was blown up by militants in Jalala, in the Takhtbhai tehsil of Mardan.
Analysts say that attacks on minorities are motivated by more than religious hatred, and that militant groups hope by inflaming sectarian tensions they can further destabilise Pakistan and weaken the government's tenuous grip on the country
Shias under attack
120 killed and over 200 injured in Quetta triple bombing which targeted Minority Hazara Shias:
January 10, 2013, turned out to be a nightmarish day for the people of Quetta when the city was rocked by three bombings that killed at least 120 people and injured over 200. Most of the dead and injured belonged to the Hazrara Shia community.
The first explosion took place at the Bacha Khan Chowk in the afternoon. The deadly twin blasts that rocked Alamdar Road a little later resulted in the death of as many as 70 people on the spot, most of them being Hazrara Shias. DSP Mujahid Hussain, SHO Zafar Ali, Samaa cameraman Imran Sheikh, a reporter of the same channel, Saifur Rehman, and four Edhi volunteers were among those killed. The last bombing of the day was the most powerful ever to hit the city.
The attack was the latest in the systematic genocide of minority Shia Muslims in Pakistan by Sunni-Muslim extremists who consider the Shias as infidels, and thus worthy of death. Relatives of the victims held vigils by the coffins of their loved ones on Quetta's streets for four nights, demanding for their protection from the Sunni majority, before agreeing to bury their dead after one of the bloodiest attacks on their community.
January 10, 2013, Quetta, Pakistan
Attack on Sufi Muslim shrine claims 42:
Two suicide blasts killed 42 and injured 100 outside the shrine of Syed Ahmad Sakhi Sarwar, Pakistan's most important Sufi Muslim shrines in the remote town of Sakhi Sarwar, 35km from Dera Ghazi Khan city, while they were celebrating the anniversary of its founder's death with music, meditation and other practices abhorred by Islamist militant groups.
April 3, 2011,
Pakistan minister Shahbaz Bhatti shot dead in Islamabad:
Gunmen shot dead Pakistan's minorities minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, an advocate of reform of the country's blasphemy laws, outside his Islamabad home. Two assassins sprayed the Christian minister's car with gunfire, striking him at least eight times, before scattering pamphlets that described him as a "Christian infidel" - a brutal sign of rising intolerance at the hands of violent extremists.
March 2, 2011,
Blasphemy Law Claims Another Victim:
Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab province of Pakistan was assassinated on January 4, 2011, by his bodyguard, a member of the elite security force responsible for guarding the Governor. This act of cowardice is an attempt to subdue with ruthless violence the sane voices of moderate leaders and to intimidate politicians from supporting secularism as Taseer was supporting the review of the Blasphemy laws in Pakistan.
January 4, 2011,
The Blasphemy Laws
Several sections of Pakistan’s Criminal Code comprise its blasphemy laws.
• 295 forbids damaging or defiling a place of worship or a sacred object.
• 295-A forbids outraging religious feelings.
• 295-B forbids defiling the Quran.
• 295-C forbids defaming Prophet Mohammed.
• Except for 295-C, the provisions of 295 require that an offence be a consequence of the accused's intent. Defiling the Quran merits imprisonment for life. Defaming Prophet Mohammed merits death with or without a fine. If a charge is laid under 295-C, the trial must take place in a Court of Session with a Muslim judge presiding.