Displaying items by tag: Pakistan
After an assassination attempt on ex-PM Imran Khan, the born-again Muslim, a political battle between him, the civilian government, and its military backers is spilling onto the streets. Khan is campaigning for snap elections and his return to power. The flurry of accusations, questions, and investigations after he had been shot in the leg does not bode well for political and social stability in the world’s fifth most populous country, the only nuclear-armed Islamic republic. Within 24 hours of being shot, the physically fit 70-year-old went on camera to deny that he was the target of a lone-wolf attack; rather, he blamed it on a plot hatched by PM Shehbaz Sharif, the internal security minister, and a senior military intelligence officer. Without offering any proof, he demanded they all resign and encouraged his supporters to keep protesting. Pakistan has lost many leaders whose killings have never been properly investigated.
‘With smiling faces they are praising God and giving thanks in their trials and sufferings,’ reported a mission worker, describing Christians in the area worst affected by devastating floods in August and September. He was helping to distribute Barnabas-funded food, clean water and practical aid to remote Christian communities where no other aid had reached. Christian farmer, Chand, felt very blessed by God who had provided ‘for His people through His people’. Pray that the joy of the Lord continues to be their strength during these trials. Praise God that Pakistan's Supreme Court has granted bail to three Christians accused of blasphemy. They were charged after distributing Christian literature and posting offensive material online. Pray that they will all now be acquitted or the cases against them dropped and pray for their protection from attack by zealous Muslims.
Only four years ago, PAK7 international had a staff of three people, one in the UK and two in Pakistan. It is incredible to see what God has done. In 2022, through partners in Pakistan, they had 30 people working with them; by 6 October there were 19 more. While three of last year’s interns moved on to new pastures, all 22 of the media school graduates are starting their internship programme and joining eight small production teams, ready to learn and grow. Internship is excellent training for young Christian media professionals, and is now giving a voice to young Christians in Pakistan. They have an incredible opportunity to make great programmes which will change the lives of generations of young viewers. Today’s growth is vital for them as they step up production of high-quality Christian shows for their channel.
Hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the floods in Pakistan are living in the open, exposed to swarms of mosquitoes and other hazards. Despite the efforts of government and relief organisations, families need more food, shelter, medical assistance, medicines, and clean water. Stagnant floodwaters, covering hundreds of kilometres, may take up to six months to recede. There are widespread cases of skin and eye infections, diarrhoea, malaria, typhoid and dengue fever. On 24 September the Sindh provincial government said makeshift health facilities and mobile camps had treated over 78,000 patients in just 24 hours. Malaria spreads quickly around stagnant waters. The UN said malaria, typhoid and diarrhoea patients in large numbers were entering medical camps and hospitals; more medicine and test kits are needed. Families are forced to drink and cook with unsafe water. They need to drink to stay alive.
The Pakistani Supreme Court has issued a highly significant and welcome ruling, which includes the declaration that the preaching of Christianity ‘is not a crime, nor can it be made into one’. The nine-page ruling is a clear and comprehensive denunciation of the way in which ‘blasphemy’ laws are misused in Pakistan. The court raises issues such as false and malicious accusations, the lack of credible evidence in many cases, and the mob violence with which an accused person is often threatened. One judge said, ‘Many a time false allegations are levelled to settle personal scores, and cases are also registered for mischievous purposes or on account of ulterior motives’.
Pakistan’s floods are a ‘wake-up call’ to the threats of climate change. A sense of injustice is keenly felt. Pakistan contributes -1% of global greenhouse gases but its geography makes it exceptionally vulnerable to climate change. Global warming makes air and sea temperatures rise, causing more evaporation. Warmer air holds more moisture, making monsoon rainfall more intense. Pakistan also has more glacial ice than anywhere in the world outside of the polar regions and is referred to as the 'third pole'. As the world warms, glacial ice melts. Glaciers in Pakistan's Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa regions are melting rapidly, creating over 3,000 lakes. 33 risk suddenly bursting, which could unleash millions of cubic metres of water and debris, putting seven million people at risk. Glacial lake outbursts are already damaging infrastructure. Climate impact scientist Saeed said Pakistan’s floods are ‘absolutely a wake-up call to governments globally who promised to tackle climate change at successive UN climate conferences’.
On 30 August Pakistan and the UN launched a joint appeal for $160 million to help Pakistan recover from monsoon floods that have put 1/3 of the country under water. On 1 September the UK announced a further £15 million for shelter and essential supplies to over 33 million people. Over 1,100 lives have been lost, whilst roads, crops, homes and bridges have been washed away. Pray for the bereaved to be comforted and the isolated to be rescued. Pray for the immediate needs of water, sanitation, shelter and protection to reach the needy quickly. Pray for help to reach families who must repair their homes and maintain their livelihoods. Pray for communities to be free of diseases carried by polluted water. Pray for the nation to find ways of importing vegetables as it faces serious food shortages in the coming months: it could even consider importing from arch-rival India.
Devastating flash floods have killed 37 people and hundreds are still missing in eastern Kentucky’s worst disaster for decades. The death toll will continue to rise. Hundreds of homes and businesses have been destroyed. People are sitting on their porches, hoping somebody is coming to save them. See In July, Sydney in Australia was hit with a month’s worth of rain in five days; people are still cleaning up three feet of swirling mud. Pakistan has 7,000+ glaciers, but rising global temperatures are causing them to melt rapidly, creating thousands of glacial lakes that might burst and release millions of cubic metres of water and debris, flooding villages in just a few hours. Worsening Indian monsoons cause Mumbai residents to commute on Venetian gondolas and inflatable dinghies. This year residents are being asked to tweet details about floods in their neighbourhoods. The data is then used to issue immediate geographically-specific flood alerts.
Ashfaq Masih is a Christian falsely accused of ‘blasphemy’ and sentenced to death by hanging. He said, ‘Muhammad Irfan came to my shop for wheel balancing for his motorbike. I balanced the wheel and asked for my amount of labour as settled between us. Muhammad Irfan refused to give me money and said he was a follower of Peer Fakhir (a Sufi spiritual guide) and don't ask for money from me. A false FIR (First Incident Report) was made against me. I told the real story to a police officer but he did not record my version but conducted an investigation ex-parte. I neither uttered any derogatory word against Prophet Muhammad nor can think about it.’ The Muslim judge presiding over the case, said that it could not be believed that a Muslim will spin a story in this regard, describing the evidence of Masih's defense team as ‘not believable’. Masih’s is the third death sentence for blasphemy since January.
Patras Masih was 18 when he was accused of sharing a photo posted on Facebook deemed insulting to Muhammad. This triggered protests by a violent Islamic extremist group who sent hundreds of Christian families fleeing from their homes in Lahore. That was four years ago and the courts still do not want to hear his case because of the involvement of the extremist Muslims. Patras’s lawyer said that the prejudice and discrimination he and his defence team have faced from trial and superior courts is unprecedented in her experience. In the last four years her team has filed five bail petitions in the Lahore High Court, including one last month, and one in the Supreme Court, all without success. Meanwhile on 8 June a court sentenced two brothers to death despite the absence of hard evidence. The unjust persecution of Christians via Pakistan’s blasphemy laws is worsening. See