A staunch Pakistani Christian human rights defender has issued an impassioned appeal to the world community to help Christians in his beleaguered country acquire full human rights.
|Mr. Shamim Masih addressing the audience|
Mr. Shamim Masih, president of People to People International (PTPI) Capital Chapter, Islamabad, made his urgent plea at a recent gathering in Islamabad, during which he asked people around the world “to extend their hands towards Pakistani Christian’s rights as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” and added that this was desperately needed for all non-Muslim in the Pakistan.”
Mr. Masih was a keynote speaker at an Easter gathering on April 30, 2011 at the Islamabad Continental Hotel which was attended by more than 120 Christian’s leaders and workers from the Islamabad/Rawalpindi areas.
During the introduction session, Mr. Shamim, raised various issues about what he called the “current burning situation prevailing in the Pakistan.”
He said, “Pakistan’s beleaguered Christians have rarely felt so demoralized in the wake of Shahbaz Bhatti’s murder. May this statement galvanize the worldwide Church to pray and act in greater solidarity with these precious Christians, and be such an unforgettable encouragement to them that they will never feel alone in their suffering again.”
Joining in the gathering were representatives of a new political party called Mustaqbil Pakistan. On their website (http://mustaqbilpakistan.pk), they state:
|Nadeem Qureshi and Shamim
during a time of prayer
“Mustaqbil Pakistan is a new political party whose primary objective is to bring about a fundamental change in the way politics is conducted in Pakistan. We believe that in the absence of such change Pakistan will not survive.”
Mr. Shamim issued his appeal also to Mustaqbil Pakistan and welcomed Mr. Nadeem Mumtaz Qureshi (Chairman of the party) who he said, “Has extended his hand towards our Christian Community.”
He then requested the party leaders to bring the change in the political scenario of Pakistan and suggested the following points for their manifesto.:
|Participants listenening intently at the event|
1. Pakistan minorities should not be called minority, instead “Non-Muslim Pakistani” should be used. In this way, Christians will feel sense of belonging and possessiveness.
2. The implementation of international standards of non-discrimination based on race, religion and gender as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the opportunity for all non-Muslims.
3. There should be opportunity for all non-Muslim students to study a faith of their own choice rather than the imposition of Islamic education.
4. We must work cooperatively with Muslim leaders and Christian leaders in Pakistan to oppose extremism and encourage the rebuilding of a tolerant and hospitable society where citizens of all religions have an equal participation.
5. Only 30% of Pakistani Christian students were able to attend the schools to earn education. Those students, who were supposed to be in school to get education, were “compelled to roam about in the streets aimlessly due to the lack of the schools as well as insufficient educational stipends.” There should be a proper system of equal distribution of the resources.
6. He stated that more schools and colleges, especially technical colleges, needed to be constructed “in the face of the growing Christians population in Pakistan.”
7. New Christian schools, colleges and, particularly technical colleges “should be renovated and upgraded.”
8. He went on saying that Christian students were subsidized by the local Catholic diocese but, even then, the funds and subsidy were “not nearly enough.”
|Group photo with the chairman of Mustaqbil Pakistan|
Then, in a speech, Mr. Nadeem Mumtaz Qureshi, assured those in attendance that that if their party comes in the power, he will definitely “bring change in the history of Pakistan.”
He requested the Christian people to work alongside his party to gather for the “solidarity of the country.”
Giving the Quranic view about the rights of minorities’ rights in Pakistan, Mr. Qureshi quoted the verses from Quran and said that in any Muslim state minorities should have “full rights to enjoy a healthy life.”
He further announced that our party will help Christian people and he promised that they would “raise their voice” for their rights and to “bring change the unethical blasphemy laws” in the constitution of Pakistan.
At the end of the event, dinner was served to the participants.