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ICC Note: Christians in Pakistan have little hope that a newly elected parliament, which will be voted on tomorrow, will offer greater freedoms or more protection for the beleaguered minority. “Pakistan’s Christians would love to believe that the elections will herald in a ‘New Pakistan’, as the politicians are promising,” writes Nasir Saeed for Christian Today. “My prediction is that the shadow of violence and death will hang over the heads of Christians, whoever comes into power.”
By Nasir Saeed
5/8/2013 Pakistan (Christian Today) – It is just a few days until Pakistanis head to the polls for historic elections on May 11 and extremists are doing their best to scare people into staying at home with their sickening bombing campaign.
The Pakistani government should have taken the necessary steps to ensure electioneering and voting would take place in an atmosphere of peace and security. I am disappointed but not surprised to see that so little has been done to meet this most basic requirement of democratic elections.
Casting a vote should not be a life-threatening action and it is a tragic injustice that an estimated 100 people have been killed in violence connected to the elections since April.
This is the sorry state Pakistan finds itself in just days away from what should be a nation-changing event – and all because those in power turn a blind eye to the hateful words and actions of extremists who care little for democracy or human life.
It is such extremists who regularly run amok in communities across Pakistan threatening, assaulting, vandalising, rampaging and even killing those they feel do not agree with their narrow ideology. The objects of their wrath are often Christians who know all too well after years of discrimination and persecution that their cries tend to fall on deaf ears in Pakistan.
Police often do not properly investigate instances of violence against Christians and in some cases even try to put the blame on the very Christians who were victimised. False blasphemy charges are routinely levelled against Christians on the basis of scant or questionable evidence. In such cases, mobs often take the law into their own hands with devastating consequences for the accused and their family.
We saw this recently when a Muslim mob went on the rampage in Joseph Colony, Lahore, torching 178 Christian houses, as well as churches and property, all because of an unproven allegation of blasphemy against a local Christian. As the mob carried out their violent attack, the police stood idly by.
The victims were paid compensation but everyone in Joseph Colony is wondering when the next attack will come. Just throwing out money is not an effective way to deal with such violence. The perpetrators should be brought to justice and made to answer for their actions, and the government should be the one making sure that happens if authorities at the local level are too weak or biased to.
Sadly when politicians speak of “equal rights and protection” – a slogan they love to bring out at election time – Christians know how hollow these words are. While the parties include such flowery rhetoric in their manifestos, we have yet to see a government actually bold enough to convert such proclamations into laws that will bring genuine improvement for Christians and other persecuted religious minorities.

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