The 14th of August is a special date in the minds of all Pakistanis wherever they may reside. It is as important to the widespread diaspora as those
who live in the homeland. The date is of course the anniversary of Pakistan’s independence and in 2016 Pakistan celebrated its 69th year as a
This year Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, was invited to attend a flag hoisting ceremony and celebration
at the Pakistani High Commission in London. The event was a chance to share in the joy of the creation of the Pakistani state, through a campaign
born from the musings of Muhammad Iqbal in 1930 and spearheaded by the acknowledged founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah aka Quaid-i-Azam (supreme
leader). Read what the High Commission have said about today’s event (click here)
Wilson has had a personal invite to every ceremony for the last five years but on each previous occasion he chose to decline it. He blames his
lack of desire on the exhibited insouciance of previous governments, to the concerns of suffering Pakistani Christians. However, in recognition of
the efforts of the current Government who have illustrated some desire to bring change into the lives of Christians, Mr Chowdhry decided to attend
this years event. His intention was to express the love Pakistani Christians have for the nation of Pakistan the land of their forefathers.
Prior to the event he also arranged to present a wreath of flowers to the High Commissioner of Pakistan Syed Ibne Abbas, to express condolences for
the loss of lives in the terrible Quetta bomb attack that killed over 70 lawyers immediately. On the note accompanying the flowers for the High
Commissioner Mr Chowdhry, said:
“At this time of great sadness for the nation of Pakistan the global Pakistani Christian diaspora, extends a hand of friendship and solidarity. We continually pray for Pakistan and also challenge many wider Christians to pray for our nation. We condemn attacks of this nature that seek to divide and polarize society and we remember the victims. We pray for peace in our nation, healing for those injured and succor for the families who have lost loved ones….”
The flowers were delivered to Mr Abbas by Hannah Chowdhry (12 years) the daughter of Mr Chowdhry, She explained the purpose of the flowers as she handed
them to Mr Abbas, who was so moved by her words that he gave Hannah a warm hug. Hannah Chowdhry, really enjoyed the experience, she said:
“The High Commissioner was very nice and very welcoming and I was proud to be able to represent Pakistani Christians today. I hope they catch the men who killed the innocent lawyers and stop them killing more people. The news about the deaths made me feel very sad. I hope Pakistan can be safe for everyone.”
High Commissioner Syed Ibne Abbas hugged Hannah Chowdhry before photo.
Despite fleeing Pakistan in their droves due to the persecution they face in the homeland, it is notable that every Pakistani Christian retains passion
for their homeland, the place of their ancestors. This sames passion lingers within progeny born abroad. Wilson Chowdhry our Chairman was born in the
UK, yet before his documented ban from Pakistan he had been travelling back to meet with his family still residing in Pakistan, two to three times
every year. In fact, Pakistan Independence day was a time for celebration in his household until his work with the BPCA uncovered gross negligence
and poor governance by previous Governments of Pakistan, leading to abject persecution of minorities.
However, his faith in Pakistan as a nation is slowly being restored, as their is some evidence that the current government is striving to bring change
to the plight of suffering Pakistani Christians. Over the past year BPCA have noticed work by the government of Pakistan that has illustrated they
are more serious about bringing equality to minorities living there, than any previous government.
This includes, placing a prominent Christian leaders face on a Pakistani stamp for the first time ever, in April this year (click here).
The Government also took the bold step of hanging the murderer of assassinated Governor Salman Taseer in accordance with Pakistani terrorism
laws – sending a clear message that extremists such as Mumtaz Qadri will not be tolerated (click here).
In recent weeks, a successful conviction was secured for a Muslim man who raped an innocent Christian girl for the first time in our recollection
(click here). Moreover
with the help of a diplomat from the Pakistani High Commission in the UK, we were able to thwart a false accusation of theft, before it led to the
incarceration of innocent Christian girls, who had previously been gang-raped (click here).
During visits to the Pakistani Embassy in Thailand and High Commission in Malaysia, we were surprised by the candid admittance by Embassy staff that
Pakistan has failed it’s minorities and noted a willingness to help those seeking asylum. (click here).
The current government also came the closest of any previous Government in ratifying changes to the blasphemy law of Pakistan. Much needed changes
had been incorporated into a draft amendment bill that had been agreed in Parliament and was going to be ratified by the senate. Sadly however the
government caved into extremists, who in the wake of the death of Mumtaz Qadri protested in a mob of over 100,000 outside Government buildings in Islamabad.
They demanding termination of the proposed reforms and death for Asia Bibi,Pakistan’s most famous blasphemy law victim – the only woman ever
convicted by the draconian laws and a Christian (read her story here). Asia
Bibi was meant to have had a Supreme Court Appeal heard in February, however the appeal has been postponed due to the vehemence exhibited within the
recent protests. Justice for Asia Bibi may now be a long time coming and this unfortunately this undermines the recent progress made by the Government
Gains for minorities are extremely small and BPCA have not reduced our campaigning in any sense, but continue to ardently press for fairness and justice.
However, we have greater faith in this current Government then we have had for any previous one.
Wilson Chowdhry, said:
“It was nice to be able to celebrate the independence of Pakistan as a nation again. I have not done so since initially co-founding the BPCA but I feel now is the time to build stronger links with the Government of Pakistan, that we might together work towards the improvement of suffering Pakistani Minorities. It has not gone unnoticed that serious efforts have been made to improve the lives of minorities and these should be commended. However much more has to be done if the cultural genocide targeting Christians in Pakistan is to be eradicated.”
The British Pakistani Christian Association continues to advocate for Pakistani Christians. Our work cannot survive without the generosity of our donors. If you have been impressed by the work of our charity and would like to contribute, then please (click here)