The state apparatus has gone to the dogs

Clip_112Everyone is condemning the deadly suicide attacks on the All Saints Church in Peshawar that killed more than 82 innocent Christians and injured a further 145 persons who were attending the Sunday service on September 22, 2013, as if it makes any difference. Drama actually ends with the Pakistanis. Among those killed were around 41 women and eight children and many of the wounded are seriously injured.

People are blaming the police but what can it do really when the State allows folks to manufacture, smuggle and collect arms freely in the tribal areas. The tribal areas have no writ of the State and one can cross within minutes the tribal belt into Pakistan. The problem is with keeping the tribal area in the first place and then allowing all kinds of unlawful and illegal activities to be conducted in the belt, ranging of arms and drugs smuggling to keeping stolen cars to kidnapped hostages. This is not how states are run.

The Christian leaders have claimed that the police did not provide sufficient security despite repeated requests. While the church had its own security personnel they were powerless against the suicide bombers who managed to enter the church and detonate the explosives strapped to their bodies.

According to the foreign news agencies, a wing of the Pakistani Taliban, Jindullah Hafsa, has accepted responsibility for the suicide attacks. A spokesperson claimed that the organisation will continue to attack foreigners and Christians until the USA halts its drone attacks on Pakistani soil. He went on to say that Christians are the enemies of Islam and therefore they will continue to kill them. The question is what these poor Christians have to do with the US drone policy. Invariably, the poor die in such attacks as the rich and powerful are well-protected and only venture to travel in their bullet-proof vehicles. Others like Zardari and Bilawal chose not even to live in Pakistan and conduct politics through Twitter.

According to the details, around 500 people attended the Sunday service. At approximately 11:40 am as the priest ended the service and the parishioners were about to leave the two suicide bombers entered the Church and detonated their bombs. There were two explosions which left dead and dying people littering the floor of the Church. The force of the explosions left gaping holes in the walls.

Appallingly, the emergency services provided by the local authorities left a great deal to be desired and the delays in reaching the scene of the devastation resulted in more casualties.

Clip_111Today Pakistan stands as one of the most glaring examples of religious intolerance in the world. The non-Muslims in the country are extremely downtrodden and marginalized and their communities have to face atrocities and brutality at every level; their faith being their only crime. They face an ever increasing religious intolerance against them which successive governments have done nothing to halt.

This is not a new incident against the religious minority communities, particularly against the Christians.

Every year many churches are attacked in different parts of the country;

Christians are persecuted on charges of blasphemy and Christian girls are abducted and forced to convert to Islam.

The places of worship and other properties of the religious minorities have been under severe attack for the last many decades. Nothing concrete, however, has been done to safeguard their lives and properties.

The latest attack in Peshawar has once again raised the sense of insecurity among the religious minority groups.

The suicide attacks on places of worship, which even includes the mosques, are part of the implementation of an Islamic system and the state remains a silent spectator so as to give the terrorists time to implement their agenda to convert Pakistan to a pure theocratic country.

13842_193502952549_553497549_3031347_4143210_nThe important institutions such as the Pakistan Army, the judiciary and successive governments, particularly those of the military dictators have both covertly and overtly remained behind the idea of eliminating the religious minority groups.

Pakistan is such a type of state where a sitting governor was assassinated for coming out in support of an innocent Christian lady to defend her. His assassin was treated as a hero of Islam and a retired chief justice of the High Court defended him in the court of law.  The former federal minister of religious minorities, Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti, was murdered but yet the killers were not arrested even after three years.

The state of Pakistan has gone to the dogs where killings by law enforcement persons and terrorists are no longer considered a crime but rather acts of courage. The state sees these killings as a means to divide society into different sects and groups with the idea that they will be easier to control. The Threats by the terrorist groups every day to implement their Islamic agenda by killing innocent citizens continue as they have found friends and supporters in the different institutions of the state including the judiciary. The judiciary claims that prosecution of captured terrorists is not possible due to lack of evidence in spite of presence of confessional statements by the terrorists themselves.

The military and the state have come out with the choice among the different groups of the Taliban by referring to them as “good Taliban and bad Taliban” as an excuse to tolerate or justify the killing of innocent people. The military has a clear policy on the Afghan Taliban as being the good Taliban to keep them in their fold for future “strategic depth”. Interestingly, the Afghan Taliban has never denied that the Pakistani Taliban are not associated with them nor condemned them for conducting such deadly and inhuman incidents.

In the presence of such suicide attacks and blasts on the markets and other religious places the government has recently decided to enter into a dialogue with the Taliban. Taking the weaknesses of the government and political parties the Taliban have killed the army officers in the bordering area of Afghanistan inside Pakistan including one four star general. The Taliban have retired army officers in their midst who get information of the movement of the security forces and other secret information from their “friends” inside the army or its spy agencies.

The killing of Christians was also connected with the unconditional release of one Taliban leader Mulla Ghani Brother, the leader of the Taliban, who remained under detention for several years after a deal with the president of Afghanistan who visited Pakistan last month. The Taliban took his release as a victory. The government of Pakistan released him hoping to start a dialogue with the Taliban.

The exercise of having dialogue with the Taliban, the friends of future strategic depth, has proved futile in the presence of such incidents of suicide attacks and threats to eliminate Christians. There is no evidence that the Taliban have agreed to accept the dialogue with the government of Pakistan but they have clearly demonstrated that they would not agreed to any sane step. Despite the fact of the killings the Pakistani government continues to labour under the false belief that the Taliban will talk to them and the killings will cease.

Trafficking Organs Of Dead Christians —

The Government Must Conduct A High Powered Probe

Clip_25A Vatican news agency, Agenzia Fides, reported a horrific crime taking place in Pakistan where, not only hundreds of Christians were killed in a church bombing in Peshawar city, KPK, but now it is reported that the dead were stripped off their organs by paramedics which were then sold the illegal organ trade black market.

According to Wikipedia Agenzia Fides is the news agency of the Vatican. It is based in the Palazzo de Propaganda Fide in Vatican City. It is part of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. It was formed on June 5, 1927 as the first missionary news agency of the Roman Catholic Church and was approved by Pope Pius XI. The current director is Prof. Luca de Mata.

It is also reported in some sections of the media that persons from law enforcement agencies were involved. The human organs are sold at high prices and when events involve non-Muslims everything and anything is allowed and the crime is justified by fundamental ideologies.

Although the news published in Agenzia Fides has not been confirmed by independent sources the very substance of the report is too horrifying to be ignored. However, regardless of the lack of confirmation the government of Pakistan must immediately probe the allegations and stop the criminal acts of any persons involved in the trafficking of human organs. While the incident mentioned in Agenzia Fides may not be proven as yet, the sale of human organs in Pakistan is nothing new. In fact, the news in the Vatican based website is more alarming as Pakistan has a very bad international reputation with regards to the state sponsored persecution of religious minority communities.

Agenzia Fides reported in the September 28, 2013 dispatch that, “…..after the bombs in the Church of All Saints in Peshawar, the situation remains tense in the Pakistani society: not only tragedy but also horror. The Christians said they were “horrified” by the rumors that link the bombs in Peshawar to the vast problem of organ trafficking: this is what some members of NGOs in civil society in Pakistan told Fides. Some of the “jackals”, presumably local paramedics, seem to have taken advantage of the high number of deaths and injuries in order to steal the bodies of victims and exploit them for the illegal organ trade”.

“If this were true, it would mean that there are criminals who are taking advantage of the suffering of Christian victims in a truly blasphemous and sacrilegious manner”, notes Fr. Mario Rodrigues, a priest of Karachi. “We call for a serious investigation on behalf of the police”, he concludes.

Pakistan enacted a law to regulate organ transplants in 2010, to shake off its reputation as a “destination leader” for transplant tourism and to stop the illegal trafficking of human organs. After the approval of the law, the illicit traffic slowed down, but in 2011 many cases of illegal transplants emerged again. Last July, given the data of a “thriving business”, the Supreme Court issued directives asking the provincial government to take action and enforce the law.

According to police investigations, 42 medical facilities engaged in illegal organ transplants have been identified in Punjab. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 27/09/2013).

Intolerance & killings in the name of Religion in Pakistan

by Nadeem Anthony

Even no one knows about the sunrise of September 22, 2013 could be the last morning and last sunset of those Christian men, women and children, unjustly lost their lives in deadly suicide blast at the All Saints Church, Kohati Gate Peshawar, the capital city of Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa-Pakistan. The Attack on Church was an act of cowardly resulted violence that brutally targeted innocent Christians. My heart bleeds with pain and agony in what I view as the most atrocious form of suicidal killing attempts. It is the country’s responsibility to protect its’ citizens and tackle with the militancy and extremism. Each and every heart that has little bit of humanity is bleeding on this extremely barbaric and shocking act of violence and heartlessness. Pakistan is not only for Muslims, this country is for Pakistanis and Christian community is true Pakistanis as they have delivered a lot to and for this motherland.

The All Saints Church, Kohati Gate, Peshawar was established in 1883 and is the second oldest church in Peshawar city. The congregation of the Church of Pakistan, running the whole affairs of All Saints Church Kohati Gate Peshawar and their representative Pastor Ijaz Gill (vicar of All Saints Church, Peshawar dioceses Church of Pakistan) is the Church In-charge. Around 500 Christian families are residing in the surroundings of the All Saints Church Peshawar. The Christian residents are poor & marginalized and professionally associated with the Municipality City District Government Peshawar. In other words mostly Christian’s men women are sanitary workers, laborers in construction work, teachers, nurses, doctors etc.

The suicide attack on a church in Peshawar was all of sudden and when I entered in Peshawar I was totally scared and was frightened because the atmosphere surrounding All Saints Church was quiet and was full of sorrow and grief. After a moment a minaret of the All Saints Church add-on a Cross on the top was front of me and I was dumbfounded that how the neighboring Muslim brethren disregard their fellow citizens and let the suicide bombers allowed, ruining to the peace, harmony between Christian and Muslim residents of Kohati Gate, Peshawar.

While I was just near to the entrance of assassinated church two young boys just crossed and I requested them to stop and share something about the massacre. Both informed about the deaths of their real brothers and sisters. When I was chatting, both boys fluently narrating the whole incident courageously and I was astonished that even a single tear was not came out from their eyes and it appears on me that their tears has been desiccated in their eyes and no worries, sorrows, grief and mourning I found in their eyes.

It was daring from their side and the moment I entered in the church compound I witnessed the whole scene and noticed pool of bloods on the floor of the church compound as well as found different parts of burnt and small pieces of human flesh in the compound. According to parishioners near about 400 hundred Christians were gathered in the Church compound and one of the Christian family arranged thanksgiving food for the worshipers. Unexpectedly, one of the suicide bombers blown himself among the Christian worshipers and while the fire and smoke was sprinkled in the Church compound and no one can see each other clearly. While the victims were trying to get hold on the situation the second suicide bomber also blew himself among the innocent Christians. While I was in the church compound I found many ball barring from the exact place where suicide bombers blown themselves.

The suicide attack resulted above 100 casualties on the spot and likely over 200 hundred sustained severe injuries. The eyewitnesses as well as the survived Christians that they saw burnt dead bodies of the worshipers including children, men and women. Many bodies were burnt badly and lost their identities; several body parts were cut out and spread out in the whole compound and even stuck-up paste on the Church walls. The blast shots, ball bearings scratched the all front part of the church. It was also noticed that pool of bloods lying on the floor as well as found different burnt parts of human body in the compound. Different parts of human bodies were widened on the rooftops of neighbors. It was terrible for me when I saw a cat holding a small hand in her mouth rapidly crossed and gone hide.

I lost my senses because shadows of fears and uncertainties were started appearing on me and I made up my mind that may be the visitation in Peshawar will be my last journey. I was totally helpless and was unable to ask even a single question to sufferers gathered in the church compound. I immediately called at home and started conversation with my wife and informed about whole heartbreaking inhuman incident of slaughter of innocent Christians. I was emotional because I was feared and accepted that this time the Peshawar visit will be my last journey. I started advising my wife please take care of yourself and the kids. She was surprised and started crying and requesting me, be brave and take care the injured and their relatives.

Soon after the church blast large number of Christian Community members reached to Lady Reading Hospital, Complex Hospital, Hayat Sher Pao Teaching Hospital for searching their loved ones. I was informed that near about 81 bodies were received by the different hospitals located in the city and in which large number of dead bodies received by the Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar. When I visited Lady Reading Hospital I was sad and painfully noticed that the hospital administration was not behaving the victims sincerely. The victims’ attendant’s also informed that on the day of incident only two or three doctors along with trainee nurses were called for emergency duty. Many critically injured could be saving from harm or protected but many victims died just lack of emergency medical treatment.

It was pity that the victims and their relatives were not provided appropriate medical treatment to the church blast victims neither assisting them professionally and appropriately. Many victims’ relatives also informed that the hospital management put their loved ones in coffin boxes without knowing that their relative has dead or still surviving. When the dead bodies were taken to the graveyard for burial two critically injured cried from the coffin box that they are alive.

In the hospital I found near about dozens of Christian women lying on the beds in critical condition and immediately needed appropriate medical treatment as many of victim intensely and deeply need proper medical care. Women and children sustained critical injures on their legs, arms and chest and their injuries turned red and blue. They all were in trauma and their eyes were full of sorrows and fears. Many injured sustained severe injuries on their vital parts, fractured of bones and the gunshots punctured their lungs. I also noticed that the small children, men, women painfully suffering through burn injuries and the swelling of whole body after the high pressure of bomb explosives.

I also met with families of the martyrs and have no words to express on the one of deadliest assaults in years on Pakistan’s history and against the Christians in Pakistan. Violence in the name of religion has been on the rise in Pakistan which has claimed thousands of lives in the recent past. No religion allows such barbaric attacks and heinous terrorist act on worshippers at the historic All Saints Church, Kohati Gate Peshawar-Pakistan. I am sorry to share that during my visit in the Lady Reading Hospital there were about two injured who died due to ignorance of doctors and inability to purchase the medicines. At present the injured purchasing their medicines from bazaar and secondly the hospital management enforcedly is discharging those still suffering through gunshots injuries while the gunshots still remained in their bodies.

I also noticed that all most all Christians even not able to buy proper medicines and immediately need grocery items to run their kitchen, proper life saving medicines to survive, transportation to move one place to other and other relevant practical needs and arrangements. It was so hard to console them in this awful situation by words only. It is vivid pictures to everyone that if the injured persons do not get proper treatment and diet it will so hard for them to survive. What I am suggesting the critically injured immediately need proper medical care and they must be shifted in the private hospitals. I also visited Wazir Bagh graveyard and noticed that many relatives were present in the graveyard.

I noticed many victims were suffering through gun shots and their injures turned into blue and black color and giving the impression radish and swelled, everyone was suffering with great pains and were not satisfied for medical treatment. I have seen the mixed impressions in their eyes complaints and hope for living. It was so hard for me to see the people in great hopelessness.

The Christians expressed their concerns and staged protest demonstration all over Pakistan. The Christian demonstrators chanted slogans and condemned on the government’s failure to provide appropriate security to the Christians and their churches.

My sad and painful profound and deep heart-felt condolences on the barbaric carnage for the martyred and heartfelt sympathies with the injured Christians.

Nadeem Anthony is an Advocate of the High Court and an activist for peace and religious freedom.

Boy Amputates His Own Hand to Please the Prophet

Clip_10 (2)Late one night, the imam Shabir Ahmad looked up from prayers at his mosque to see a 15-year-old boy approaching with a plate in his outstretched left hand. On it was the boy’s freshly severed right hand.

Mr. Ahmad fled the mosque and left the village, in eastern Punjab Province.

Earlier that night, Jan. 10, 2016, he had denounced the boy as a blasphemer, an accusation that in Pakistan can get a person killed — even when the accusation is false, as it was in this case.

The boy, Anwar Ali, the son of a poor laborer, had been attending an evening prayer gathering at the mosque in the village, Khanqah, when Mr. Ahmad asked for a show of hands of those who did not love the Prophet Muhammad. Thinking the cleric had asked for those who did love the prophet, Anwar’s hand shot up, according to witnesses and the boy’s family.

He realized his mistake when he saw that his was the only hand up, and he quickly put it down. But by then Mr. Ahmad was screaming “Blasphemer!” at him, along with many others in the crowd. “Don’t you love your prophet?” they called, as the boy fled in disgrace.

Anwar went home, found a sharp scythe and chopped off his right hand that same night. When he showed it to the cleric, he made clear it was an offering to absolve his perceived sin.

The police quickly caught the mullah and locked him up, but local religious leaders protested, and the authorities backed down and released him. After the international news media began picking up on the story over the weekend, the authorities rearrested Mr. Ahmad on Sunday, holding him on terrorism and other charges.

“There is no physical evidence against the cleric of involvement, but he has been charged for inciting and arousing the emotions of people to such a level that the boy did this act,” the district police chief, Faisal Rana, said.

The boy’s family, however, argues that the cleric did nothing wrong and should not be punished.

“We are lucky that we have this son who loves Prophet Muhammad that much,” Muhammad Ghafoor, Anwar’s father, said in a telephone interview. “We will be rewarded by God for this in the eternal world.”

Anwar, too, declined to make any charge against the mullah. “What I did was for love of the Prophet Muhammad,” he said.

Blasphemy is a toxic subject in Pakistan, where a confusing body of laws has enshrined it as a potentially capital offense but also makes it nearly impossible for the accused to defend themselves in court. Even publicly repeating details of the accusation is tantamount to blasphemy in its own right.

Such cases almost never make it to court, however. The merest accusation that blasphemy has occurred has the power to arouse lynching or mob violence.

In January 2016, Pakistan lifted a three-year-old ban on YouTube, which it had shut down because of accusations of airing anti-Islamic videos. The government announced that Google, which owns YouTube, had agreed to give it the right to block objectionable content. The Pakistani government blocks thousands of web pages it considers offensive.

We have become a society so intoxicated by negative things in the name of religion that parents feel proud of sending their children to jihad and to die in the name of such activities.

Anwar Ali did not even go to a hospital after his amputation, but had his right arm’s stump bandaged at a village clinic and went home. Family members buried his hand in the village graveyard.