Saturday, 26 November 2011

Pakistan's Minister for Harmony sees hope for Christians

Article by Marc Aupiais

In his recent visit to the Vatican, the successor of assassinated Minister for Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti: Minister for Harmony: Akram Masih Gill, a Catholic, was given special Treatment. The Pope Benedict XVI, gave the minister the same treatment as ambassadors to the Vatican and heads of state. He was given a private audience.

While Asia Bibi has made headlines, and still is in a Pakistani death row cell, facing execution for alleged blasphemy, many others face extra-judicial killings, kidnapping, and workplace discrimination for being members of a minority.

Members of Parliament must understand Islamic beliefs, and be considered by them to be in harmony with these. The Pakistani president must be a Muslim, but a few places in the legislature are reserved for minorities and women. The Ministry for Minorities was quietly disintegrated and replaced in duties by the ministry for Harmony. The Minister for Harmony: Akram Masih Gill, recently proved his worth, by acting to have the name "Jesus Christ" removed from a list of terms the state forbids the use of in cellular networks' SMS (text) communications.

The British Foreign Office notes that attacks on minorities and different religious "sects" are high in Pakistan. There are constant police checkpoints, and foreigners often need police protection. People or places associated with the Western world or the state face bombings, kidnapping, and assassination plots.

Pakistani Christians, claims Zenit News Agency, face kidnapping, en mass assassination, workplace discrimination, and bribery to convert.

It is reported in Zenit: that the socio-political class of Islam fronted by the Taliban and Al Qaeda, in particular focusses on fresh recruits to Islam. Those who convert from Christianity are seen as easier to convince into suicide bombings and violent acts. Christians are therefore consistently intimidated, told they will have a better life if they convert and offered just such life.

Those who won't convert are intimidated, kidnapped, killed.

The lawlessness in Pakistan and in particular the Federal Tribal areas, where a protracted civil war is taking place, means that minorities are easy targets for Sharia Islamists.

Religion must be stated on official documents of Christians, reports Zenit. It claims that VISAs to leave are often denied by state officials to Christians, while Muslims are not. Jobs also, Zenit claims, are often denied Christians, who have a lot similar to illegal immigrants in the west. They have poor working hours and lack days off. Zenit claims from a refugee in Italy, that even Catholic organization Caritas Internationalis engages in discrimination against Christians. Caritas boasts that in Pakistan it has just about an entirely Muslim staff. It claims this as a boast that it aids irrespective of religion and is not purely religious. 95% of Pakistan is Muslim, but one in 20 people are not.

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