Pakistani Christians across the globe are mourning their lost and injured on the 2nd anniversary of the Peshawar twin bomb attack (click here) which killed over 100 people and injured over 250 more, an incident labelled the worst attack on Christians in the nation.
The unwarranted and unprovoked attack was simply an act of violence against the innocent Christian minority who are treated as anathema in a nation where they are deemed untouchables. On the morning of the 22nd September 2013 parishioners had been attending a packed service with an attendance in excess of 3000. Afterwards, as they were entering the forecourt of the church where food was being served, two men in army uniforms entered the premises and started handing out sweets to children. As the parents gathered to see what was happening one bomb exploded then another and bodies were simply strewn across the forecourt.
Those who were uninjured called emergency services and then helped the wounded as best they could. Juliet Chowdhry a trustee of the BPCA lost thirteen members of her family in the blast. She said:
“The pain of that day lives on in our memories we cried as a community and individually. Pakistani Christians across the globe lost someone that day: a member of their family, a friend, or the family member of a friend – faces we will not see again till our own end comes. Many victims suffered horrible painful deaths and all because they chose to love our Lord Jesus. Christians suffer daily in Pakistan yet our pain and our suffering remains a dirty secret that western governments choose to hide.”
Despite the impact of the twin bomb attack in Peshawar, and the more recent twin church bomb attack in Lahore on 15th March 2015 (click here), where brave volunteer Christian security teams saved hundreds from a similar fate, yet 29 innocent people still lost their lives, Britain refuses to accept that Pakistani Christians are persecuted. In their February 2015 Home Office Policy statement Britain suggest that Pakistani Christians are severely discriminated against, but not persecuted. This stance is contrary to the risk profile by senior academics across the globe and ignores the fact that 700 Christians girls are kidnapped, raped and forced into Islamic marriage every year, a stat produced by Pakistan based Muslim NGO ‘Movement of Solidarity and Peace.’ The Home Office report also fails to recognise that over 15% of recorded blasphemy charges are laid against Christians, who only make up 1.6% of the demographic of Pakistan – a huge disparity and evidence enough of targeting. A government quango the ‘Pakistan Telecommunications Authority’ have banned texting of the words “Jesus Christ”, and many churches have been forced to hold meetings at times and days least offensive to local Muslims, with those meetings presided over by local police.
In solidarity with Pakistani Christians in the homeland today we have emailed a copy of our latest report on Pakistan and the thousands of Pak-Christian asylum seekers in Thailand to every MP in the UK, Key Foreign Office Ministers and to Home Office Ministers. We worked with MP David Burrowes to prepare the text for a Parliamentary Question which he tabled to the home office on 16th September 2015. The text of which stated:
“To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to her Department’s assessment of the risk of prosecution to Christians in Pakistan in its publication, Country Information and Guidance, Pakistan: Christians and Christian converts, published in February 2015, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the finding of the report commissioned by the British Pakistan Christian Association, entitled Education, Human Rights Violations in Pakistan and the Scandal Involving UNHRC and Asylum Seekers in Thailand, published in February 2015.”
It is hoped that our report and the Parliamentary question will be a timely trigger for decision-makers in the UK to alter the existing flawed position they hold with regards to Pakistani Christians.
Wilson Chowdhry Chairman of the BPCA said:
“Today’s date will always be remembered for the pain and loss it resonates with. However we hope to use that suffering to melt hearts and establish a more appropriate risk-profile for Pakistani Christians. It is essential that Britain changes it’s policy as there are few countries whose reports on humanitarian crises are more respected globally and the UN and UNHCR take their marker from the UK. If Britain makes the right decision the thousands of Pak-Christians who are seeing delays of up to ten years for resettlement from nations such as Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, may finally see their applications expedited. These asylum seekers are the worst off as they simply find themselves outside the existing system.”
The BPCA recently obtained updated stats on the number of Pakistani Christians seeking asylum in the UK, and on how many were successful. BPCA researcher Nathanael Lewis commented :
“A quick analysis reveals that for 2012 and 2013 about 50% ended up being given leave to remain but in 2014 this dropped to 40% and this year so far it has plummeted to less than 20%. If that isn’t some kind of statistical anomaly or because appeals are ongoing, then this is deeply concerning – that the percentage of successful applicants has been slashed whilst the situation in Pakistan is steadily worsening for Christians is exactly the wrong direction we should expect to see if the system was working properly.”
For these reasons, in the face of a likely genocide of Christians in Pakistan, the BPCA is urging Christians in the West and particularly in the UK to raise the reality of the situation with their political representatives and the media. We suggest that communications focus on one or more of the following areas:
The humanitarian and moral imperative, particularly as Pakistan is a Commonwealth nation.
The practical benefits of accepting Christian refugees in particular – the fact that the security risk is nil, leading to significant security savings, that they hold the same basic values and integrate far better, helping in community cohesion and all the associated cost savings that come out of that.
The fact that due to their experiences, with proper support and protection, they will be particularly well able to spot and help combat Islamic extremism in the UK.
That we often have affirmative action plans to help the most seriously disadvantaged, and given that Muslims have other neighbouring Muslim nations they can appeal to or seek safety in, but Christians do not and suffer extra barriers in seeking refuge, there should be such an affirmative action plan to help them overcome such barriers to gain safety.
In fact, almost all of these points will apply to Christian refugees from the Middle East and Muslim nations generally. We invite you to sign and promote this petition (click here) calling for a radical overhaul of UK policy in regard to Pakistani Christians. In addition, if you want an exemplar of a letter text on the issue to use or adapt when writing or emailing politicians generally, such as MP’s, MEP’s, peers and the like, then we have this draft document here: (click here) and if you are writing to the relevant government ministers, Home Secretary Theresa May (email@example.com ) or Lord Bates (firstname.lastname@example.org) then we have this version here (click here)
Find your MP (click here)
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