Displaying items by tag: Pakistan
War would be terrible for India and Pakistan, but for the people of Kashmir peace sounds like the same thing. Shelling has increased along the official Line of Control that divides Kashmir between the two nuclear-armed rivals. Indian and Pakistani warplanes occasionally roar overhead, and troops from both sides shoot at each other across the de facto border. Frightened people are praying that it doesn’t escalate into war. Mohammed Shafiq lives on the Pakistani side and built bunkers near his home years ago for just such an occasion. ‘We will use them if there is any attack from India in our area.’ Meanwhile JeM, a Pakistan terrorist group whose primary motive is to separate Kashmir from India and merge it with Pakistan, is accused of aggravating the situation with violent attacks in Kashmir. Although banned, JeM continue to operate there. See
Ever since the 1947 partition when Britain dismantled its Indian empire, India and Pakistan have been arch-rivals. The animosity, rooted in religion, is characterised by conflict over the state of Kashmir. Currently they are on the brink of major confrontation. Pakistan’s president Imran Khan has announced that Islamabad will release IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan, who was captured after an aerial combat that resulted from Indian bombing of alleged ‘terror’ targets inside Pakistan. Mr Khan urged the need for ‘better sense to prevail’, stating the need for the two nuclear-armed countries to remain cool-headed and work together against terrorism in disputed Kashmir. Pray that this latest altercation will prompt the international community to step in and bring the two historically opposing forces into agreement for a more peaceful co-existence.
Death row Christian Aasia Bibi will be allowed to leave Pakistan, after the country's top court upheld her acquittal on blasphemy charges. Ms Bibi, who spent eight years on death row, will now be free to join her daughters who fled to Canada and were granted asylum there. The 54-year-old was acquitted in October (eight years after she was convicted for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a dispute with her neighbours); but she has remained under guard at a secret place since her acquittal. Prime Minister Imran Khan's government has attempted to quell anger over her exoneration by radical Islamists, who staged nationwide protests and almost brought the capital Islamabad to a standstill. More than 3,000 members of the radical Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) group were arrested on charges of terrorism after the protest, with its leader and high profile members still in prison.
Afghanistan, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, and Somalia are the five worst places for women to live, according to the 2019 World Watch List of ‘50 most difficult places to be a Christian’. The list reports that, in contexts which restrict women’s legal rights to equal representation, minority Christian communities are especially vulnerable to having their women and girls sexually attacked, forcibly married, subjected to domestic abuse, stripped of their inheritance, or even killed - all with impunity. Sexual violence is used as a means of power and control against Christian women. Discrimination based on stereotypical roles of men and women is one of the most widespread human rights violations worldwide. It can assume cruel forms and deprives many women and girls of their rights to life, freedom, and respect for human dignity. In Afghanistan, ‘women found to be married to new converts from Islam and sharing their husbands’ Christian faith, are punished by being raped. The same happens with children of converts who are at risk of child abuse.’
Two Christian brothers have been sentenced to death for blasphemy. Qaisar and Amoon Ayub have been held in jail since their arrest in 2014, allegedly for posting ‘disrespectful material’ on their website. A legal aid centre, CLAAS-UK, which represents the brothers, has said it plans to appeal the sentence, taking it to the Lahore High Court. CLAAS-UK stated on its website, ‘In this case the trial judge did not apply his judicious mind and convicted the accused in a very casual manner’. The story dates back to 2011 when Qaisar, following a quarrel at his office, started to receive death threats, and the brothers had to flee the country. They were arrested on charges of blasphemy on their return four years later. For their full story, click the ‘More’ button; also see
Recent weeks have seen answered prayer and God’s protection over His people. Pakistan’s police foiled an attack on Christmas worship in Karachi. A police officer tragically lost his life when the bomb he was defusing detonated outside a Cairo church, but his brave intervention thwarted Islamist plans to take many more lives a few days before Orthodox Christians’ Christmas Day. Iraq’s government made a landmark announcement declaring Christmas Day a national holiday for all Iraqis, wishing its Christian citizens a ‘happy Christmas’. Meanwhile, an anti-Christian tirade by the Grand Mufti fell flat when the country’s Sunni authority condemned it as irrational and offensive, pointing out that Christians don’t try to prevent Muslim celebrations. In Egypt, the Ministry of Justice produced a remarkable animated public information video cautioning Muslims not to ‘fall prey to the extremists’, and encouraged them to extend greetings to their Christian neighbours during the Christmas holidays.
After a two-year battle to re-register their work, World Vision has been expelled from Pakistan, along with Catholic Relief Services and 16 other organisations, for ‘deliberately spreading disinformation’ and ‘non-compliance’. World Vision has handed over responsibility for poverty-reduction and health programmes to the state and has complied with a 60-day deadline to leave. They regret the effect that the cessation of their work will have on the vulnerable communities where they worked, but respect the Government's decision as to who may work in the country. They have worked in Pakistan for thirteen years, helping 800,000 youngsters. They are currently discussing the possibility of re-starting work under new legal frameworks which the government may introduce at a later date. Catholic Relief Services, a charitable arm of the US Catholic Church, had been helping provide food, education and clean water in Pakistan since 1954.
Pakistani Christian mother Aasia Bibi has finally been freed from prison after spending over eight years on death row for allegedly committing ‘blasphemy’ against Islam, but she is not yet free. Government officials confirmed on 8 November that she had been flown to Islamabad under tight security due to radical Muslim death threats against her and her family following the news of her acquittal. While some reports stated that she had left the country, a foreign ministry spokesman said that this was not true. It is unclear what might happen to her, given that Imran Khan’s government has seemingly given way to the huge protests caused by her acquittal on 31 October, and made a deal with the party responsible for organising them. According to that agreement, Aasia would be re-tried by a new supreme court, not including the original three judges.
An eye surgeon from the Diocese of Peshawar, Khushbakht Peters, celebrates the work of the Christian hospital at Tank in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. She writes: ‘Tank is a city in the south of our province. The war against terrorism has been going on for a long time here; many people, both soldiers and civilians, have lost their lives. Yet even when things were at their worst, the dedicated staff at the Christian Hospital persisted in providing healthcare services. A few years ago, even the Taliban refused to attack the hospital, as this is where all their women and children go for treatment. For the past 150 years the hospital has been following the footsteps of the Good Samaritan, providing a healing touch for those in need. They have been helping the poorest of the poor, the underprivileged of society, giving them their only chance to better health. Following the living example of the hospital, let us be obedient to our calling to the Lord, and become a blessing for many.’
Last week we prayed again for Aasia Bibi, after she asked for Christians in the UK to intercede for her release from death row in Pakistan. In an extraordinary answer to those prayers, the supreme court has overturned her eight-year death sentence for allegedly blasphemous comments, and she is free. Christians are Pakistan's 'forgotten minority'. The laws are often used to get revenge after personal disputes, and convictions are based on thin evidence. Christians make up just 1.6% of the population. They have been targeted by numerous attacks in recent years, leaving many feeling vulnerable to a climate of intolerance. There are fears that there could be a violent response to her acquittal, and her family fear for their safety. She has been offered asylum by several countries, and will leave Pakistan. Prime minister Imran Khan has called for calm - see