Category : Pakistan

(CT) The deadliest incident faced by the persecuted church last Christmas wasn’t radical Islamists. It was alcohol.

The deadliest incident faced by the persecuted church last Christmas wasn’t radical Islamists. It was alcohol.

Liquor mixed with aftershave killed about 50 people at Christmas parties in a Pakistani village, and sickened about 100 more.

In Pakistan, as in many Muslim-majority nations where Shari‘ah law forbids drinking, alcohol is closely identified with Christianity. The nation’s primary alcohol producer, for example, riffs on the Bible in advertisements. Founded in 1860 by the British, Murree Brewery’s slogan, “Eat, drink, and be Murree,” echoes the repeated biblical idiom for short-term pleasures.

Perhaps as surprising as the existence of a Pakistani brewery is the fact that 12 Muslims were among the victims of the fatal Christmas parties.

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Posted in Alcohol/Drinking, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Pakistan, Race/Race Relations

A Terrifying WSJ profile of American Diplomat Robin Raphel, wrongly suspected for being a US Spy

Over the past two years, diplomats in Pakistan and the U.S. have scaled back contacts, according to officials in both countries. U.S. diplomats say they are afraid of what the NSA and the FBI might hear about them.

“What happened to Raphel could happen to any of us,” said Ryan Crocker, one of the State Department’s most highly decorated career ambassadors. Given the empowerment of law enforcement after 9/11 and the U.S.’s growing reliance on signals intelligence in place of diplomatic reporting, he said, “we will know less and we will be less secure.”

“Look what happened to the one person who was out talking to people,” said Dan Feldman, Raphel’s former boss at State. “Does that not become a cautionary tale?”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Pakistan, Politics in General, The U.S. Government, Theology

Michael Avramovich on Asia Bibi's Pakistani Supreme Court hearing–In The Moral Footsteps Of Pilate

This [past] week many around the world have prayed for the Pakistani Supreme Court hearing for Asia Bibi that took place yesterday. Over the years, I have written a number of articles on these pages describing the horrific plight of Asia Bibi. Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian, and a married mother of five, who was sentenced to death by hanging under Pakistan’s notorious criminal code section 295(c), which prescribes the death penalty for “insulting” Mohammed and Islam. What was her “crime?” It was in June 2009, while working in the fields, that she was sent to bring water for the other farm workers. Some of the Moslem workers refused to drink the water she brought as they considered water touched by Christians to be “unclean.” Her co-workers then complained to the local authorities that she made derogatory comments about Mohammed. What was the derogatory comment she was alleged to have made? The Moslem women claimed that Asia Bibi said: “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?” Asia Bibi is illiterate, and is considered to be an uneducated woman, but she asked a deeply profound question.

Read it all from Touchstone.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Pakistan, Religion & Culture, Violence

(CEN) Concerns over Lambeth meeting with an allegedly prominent Pakistani “hate preacher”

A spokesman for Lambeth Palace told The Church of England Newspaper: “The Archbishop of Canterbury was pleased to meet Shaykh Naqib ur Rehman, a leading Sufi Muslim leader from Pakistan, at Lambeth Palace yesterday. The Archbishop received a first-hand account of the situation in Pakistan, which is a highly significant country for faith relationships in the UK.”

However, the son of Salmaan Taseer told the International Business Times he was perturbed by the news. Taseer, who had been kidnapped by the Taliban and held prisoner for four years said: “These people teach murder and hate. For me personally I find it sad that a country like England would allow cowards like these men in.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Asia, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pakistan, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(WSJ) Aatish Taseer–The Day I Got My Green Card

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, India, Pakistan, Politics in General, Theology

[WWM] Pakistani Christians bury their dead after Easter massacre

“People tried to move away a little boy curled up by the coffin, and to tell him to let them put it in the ground. People were spent from tears and crying, and yet found some energy to dig the graves of their loved ones. The little boy would not let go and wept. I asked the family to let him hold the coffin a little more, and then he looked at me, and we locked eyes before he said, ‘He was my brother after all’.”

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, Pakistan

[BBC World Service Newsday] Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali interviewed on the Lahore massacre

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is the former Bishop of Raiwind in Pakistan. He spoke to Newsday’s Andrew Peach.


Bishop Michael: There has been a pattern of for example, mob violence against Christian communities, churches and sometimes even individuals, but this really is plumbing the depths of evil, because this time the target has been children and mothers playing at the swings. I don’t know of a softer target than that. So yes, things seem very bad here, from that point of view.

Interviewer: So it’s part of a series of attacks of this sort – attacks on churches, on Christian villages, that kind of thing, but also in a broader context in Pakistan – Christians facing violence; blasphemy laws have been targeting Christians in change recently.

Bishop Michael: Yes, there are layers of persecution, so there is legal discrimination against Christians, I mean that is embedded in the law now, and that was brought about 25/30 years ago. Then there is social discrimination in employment, in housing opportunities and schooling. Then as you say, there has been this mob violence. That has been very serious, lots of people have been killed, institutions destroyed. And now more recently there has been this terrorist attack, again part of a series of attacks – you may remember some churches were attacked last year.

How this has come about, because I remember a time, I was a bishop here before I was a bishop in England, and Christians and Muslims and others lived together amicably, neighbors went to the same schools, and ate in the same restaurants.

This has been brought about by this process of radicalisation based on an ideology that is regarded as based on religion. And it is not for me to say how authentic that is, but that is for other people to say how distorted it is or how authentic, but that is what is causing these problems.

Interviewer: And Michael, if that is your analysis on why this is happening, what do you think could change things in terms of stopping the persecution of Christians in Pakistan?

Bishop Michael: Yes, I think that is a very good question. I think there are a number of things. I think we need to address the teaching of hatred that children are absorbing from schooldays in their textbooks, in religious schools, even by religious teachers sometimes in public gatherings. That has to be addressed urgently.

The other is that we need changes in the law so that equality under the law is guaranteed for all. One law for all must be a principle that is recognised. Fundamental freedoms, particularly freedom of expression, need to be safeguarded. And then of course there is the rampant misuse of the blasphemy laws. I have suggested again and again to successive governments how to deal with this, and I’ve had verbal agreement, ‘yes you know, it sounds a good idea we will do it,’ but in fact very little has been done. All those things which certainly improve the situation are of course the army and the security services are engaged, from their angle in curbing terrorist activity, and that is good, but I think these underlying causes also need to be addressed.

Listen to it all [Unofficial transcript by The Elves]

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, Pakistan

[Lapido Media] Analysis: The Battle for Pakistan

by ‘Our Correspondent’
..Pakistan is widely perceived in the West as being a den of fanaticism, yet this is a rank oversimplification. The overwhelming majority of Pakistanis are fundamentally decent, hospitable, and kind. Myopic Western narratives obscure any number of inconvenient facts: that far more Muslims are killed by terrorists than Christians; that the blasphemy laws are more often used as an excuse to seize valuable land than to score religious points; that there is a growing sense of outrage among Pakistanis at the brutalities committed in their country.

When terrorists attacked a church in Peshawar in 2013 a Muslim aid agency sent ambulances to help them, saving many lives. Even now SMS appeals for blood donations are doing the rounds; a taxi company in Lahore is offering free travel to hospitals for anyone who wants to donate blood. A friend of mine came across two men looting a bus station in Islamabad, chased them off, retrieved their loot, and promptly returned it to the authorities.

And yet the fact remains that there are organisations in Pakistan who consider it meritorious to park a car bomb next to a playground and blast dozens of giggling children to smithereens; who acclaim as a hero a man who machine-gunned a civil rights campaigner to death in an upmarket shopping area. The broad swathe of Pakistani decency and kindness is hedged in by a lunatic fringe of murderous zealots..

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, Pakistan

Pakistan's Christians: the precarious position of a minority community

The suicide bombing Sunday in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore, along with published comments attributed to the militant Muslim group that claimed to carry it out, have served to grimly underscore the precarious position of Pakistan’s Christians.

At least 70 people were killed in the Easter attack, mostly women and children.

Ahsanullah Ahsan, spokesman for Jamaat-e-Ahrar, a breakaway Taliban faction in Pakistan, said the attack specifically targeted Christians.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Pakistan, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

NZ Anglican Bishops condemn Pakistan bombings

The Anglican Archbishops of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia have condemned an Easter Sunday suicide bombing in Lahore, Pakistan which killed at least 70 people.

“The targeting of the innocent, in this case Christians celebrating Easter, is the hallmark of terrorism and such cowardice should be condemned,” the Archbishops said.

They said people of peace from all faiths should stand in solidarity to condemn the bombing.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Asia, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Pakistan, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(NYT) Pakistan in Mourning as Toll From Lahore Easter Suicide Bombing Rises

Shock and grief enveloped Pakistan on Monday as the official death toll from a suicide attack in Lahore a day earlier rose to 69, with 341 people wounded.

The local news media put the number of people killed at 71.

Police investigators said a suicide bomber had detonated explosives in a vest during the evening rush hour on Sunday at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, one of the largest public parks in this eastern city.

Jamaat-e-Ahrar, a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that it had targeted Christians.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Pakistan, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(NYT Op-ed) Nicholas Kristof–My Friend Rafiullah Kakar,, the Former Muslim Extremist

Ultimately, Rafi’s life was transformed because his eldest brother, Akhtar, pinched pennies and sent Rafi to the best public school in the family’s home province, Balochistan. Rafi had an outstanding mind and rocketed to the top of his class. But he also fell under the spell of political Islam. A charismatic Islamic studies teacher turned Rafi into a Taliban sympathizer who despised the West.

“I subscribed to conspiracy theories that 9/11 was done by the Americans themselves, that there were 4,000 Jews who were absent from work that day,” Rafi recalls. “I thought the Taliban were freedom fighters.”

I’ve often written about education as an antidote to extremism. But in Pakistan, it was high school that radicalized Rafi. “Education can be a problem,” Rafi says dryly.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Islam, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Pakistan, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

PBS' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–A Different Islamic School

In recent years, traditional Islamic seminaries, or madrasas, have come under scrutiny and criticism as incubators of terrorism and extremist interpretations of Islam. Correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro has a report on one school, the Jamia Islamia Clifton madrasa founded 40 years ago in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, that is trying to change that image and broaden the scope of what students are taught.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Education, Islam, Other Faiths, Pakistan, Religion & Culture

(Anglican Ink) Churchwarden sacrifices his life to save congregation during Taliban attack

In an act of extraordinary heroism, a parish warden stopped an Islamist terrorist from detonating a bomb during Sunday worship at Christ Church Youhanabad near Lahore, Pakistan. Fifteen people were murdered during twin attacks on Christ Church and the neighboring St John’s Catholic Church on 15 March 2015, but the heroism of Zahid Yousaf Goga (pictured with his wife, Akash and three children) prevented further bloodshed.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Children, Islam, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Pakistan, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(BBC) Deadly blasts hit Pakistan churches, one R. Catholic+one Anglican, in Lahore

Two bomb blasts have killed at least 14 people near two churches in a Christian neighbourhood of the Pakistani city of Lahore, local officials say.

More than 70 people were hurt in the explosions, which targeted worshippers attending Sunday mass at the churches in the Youhanabad area.

Violent protests erupted after the blasts, with a mob killing two men accused of involvement in the attacks.

Pakistan’s Christian community has often been targeted by militants.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Other Churches, Pakistan, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Violence