Saturday, October 11, 2008

More Disturbing News from Pakistan

About after an year, once again Christians of Shantinagr, a Christian village in south Punjab, Pakistan, received threatening letters by post, in which they were asked to convert to Islam or ready for die or leave the area. Nine Christian religious and political leaders received the menacing mail on Sept.3 by post. Like previous mail there is no dead line for the threat. The letter says that, "Don't think we have forget you. We are after you and we will teach you a lesson if you will not obey our advice." The letters have no names of the sanders, but the message is almost the same.

"Although each letter has little different form others, the message is for conversion," Kaleem Dutt, one of the recipients of the letter told Minorities Concern of Pakistan by phone. About fifteen days before these letters, few Christian families who live outside the village on their agricultural lands were attacked in night by some miscreants. The tortured them, beat them, insulted them and looted them. They also asked the Christian that they should leave the area otherwise they will treated like this. This is not the first time that Christians of this area received these sorts of letters. Last year, 10 Christians of the same village twice received the same type of correspondence with the same message. That time the dead-line to convert to Islam was mentioned in the letters which was ten days. "Thank God nothing happened after those ten days, so people feel relaxed," Saleem Dutt, a villager form Shantinagar told Minorities Concern of Pakistan (MCP).

Last year, during the months of May, June and August, along with people of Shantinagar, religious minorities of North West Frontier Province (NWFP), especially Christians of Charsada and Peshawar, capital of NWFP, also received threatening letters from the unknown militants. The letters' message was to change their religions and converted to Islam. Recently, on June 21, 2008, Islamic militants kidnapped 16 Christians in a raid that took place on June 21, 2008 around 8 pm while they were worshiping in the house of Salamat Masih, a Christian, in Peshawar. They were taken to the Khayber Agency, near to the boarder with Afghanistan. However, after couple of hours they were released after government's negotiation with the militants.

Last year when Christians of Shantinagar received the intimidating letter, they immediately informed the police authorities about the letters and also gave the phone numbers of the threatening phone calls "but police did nothing," Christians complained. "This is the reason why this time still we have not informed the police," Dutt said.

There are many militants groups active in the country especially in the tribal region of NWFP, but it is not clear which militant group is behind these imitating letters.

The Christians of Shantinagar are living under constant threat of attack by the militants. The apprehension of people of Shantinagar is genuine because on Feb. 6, 1997 this village was attacked by a mob of about 2000 people when the whole village was burnt and destroyed while about 300 policemen were present out side the village. Christians were allegedly accused of insulting the holy Quran. So within hours, about 80 percent village was annihilated. Almost 800 houses were destroyed and 2500 people were affected. In the attack, about 2000 Bibles were also burnt. A judicial inquiry was held but still the findings of the inquiry are not made public.

Source: Christians living in Pakistan

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