http://www.asianews.it/In September, the head of the family, Boota Masih, a 58-yeaer-old goldsmith, was killed, falsely accused of blasphemy. In fact, a business rival was behind the murder, and he is still free and unpunished. Meanwhile, armed men have threatened the victim's family, telling them to convert to Islam or face death. Police however have arrested these men. A Pakistani court has indicted three people for proffering death threats against the family of Boota Masih, 58, a Christian man killed in mid-September in an incident involving accusations of blasphemy. Siding with the dead man's family, activists with Life for All and the Masihi Foundation, along with Church and civil society leaders, have called on the authorities to arrest the murderer and do something to stop the persecution of the Masihs' who are only guilty of being Christian. Unfortunately, they are up against the usual reticence (if not the connivance) of police and prosecutors in such cases. Everything began for the Masih family on 16 September when Muhammad Asif killed their main breadwinner after accusing him of blasphemy. The Muslim businessman attacked his victim at the Liaqatabad Gold Market in Karachi in broad daylight. Using a knife, he cut his throat, finishing him off with a dozen stabs, all this in the plain view of other workers and some police officers, who did not intervene and left the murderer all the time he needed to escape unmolested. The next day, a member of the Liaqatabad Jewellers Association belatedly came to the dead man's defence, saying that he "had never seen or heard him speaking against anyone, ever." The victim had worked at the market for 30 years. For his family, the accusation of blasphemy was but an excuse to kill him, a way to remove a business rival. When they reported the murder, police initially refused to start an investigation. The story took a turn for the worse when, on 24 October, a group of armed men broke into the Masih home, threatening to kill its members if they did not withdraw their complaint and convert to Islam. Instead of complying with the threats, the Masihs went to police the next day to file another complaint. Last Sunday, law enforcement authorities took into custody Muhammad Nadeem and two accomplices, for carrying out the punitive raid against the bereaved family. Yesterday, their case went before a judge. Still, the murderer Muhammad Asif is still a fugitive. Fr Arshad Gill, a priest in Karachi, spoke to AsiaNews about this "sad story" in which the victim is "an innocent man" and his family is told to convert to Islam or die. For him, the case epitomises the situation of Pakistan's minorities, forced to live "in conditions of profound insecurity" in which events such as this one tend to exacerbate the situation. This is all due to the "black law". For years, Pakistan's Catholic and Protestant Churches have called for its repeal because, among other things, it is increasingly used in personal vendettas. Found in Article 295, B and C of the Pakistan Penal Code, the "law" punishes with death or life in prison anyone who desecrates the Qur'an or defames the name of the Prophet Muhammad. However, no political party or government has had the courage to change it. Those who have proposed amendments - Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, a Muslim, and Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic - have been murdered. According to data collected by the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of Pakistan (NCJP), at least 964 people have been charged under the law from 1986 to August 2009. They include 479 Muslims, 119 Christians, 340 Ahmadis, 14 Hindus and 10 of unknown religion. Since the law was adopted, more than 40 extra-judicial killings have been carried out in individual attacks or by mobs, against innocent people, all in its name. Last year for example, a person suffering from mental disorders was burnt to death on false charges, with his killers going scot-free. Another case involves Rimsha Masih, a Christian teenager who was saved from false charges after an international campaign led to her release from prison. Even entire groups have not been spared. In fact, one community was attacked in Lahore in March 2013 with another suffering the same fate in Gojra in the summer of 2009.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Daily TimesIran will probably abandon a multi-billion-dollar contract to supply gas to Pakistan, the semi-official Fars news agency reported Iran’s oil minister as saying on Wednesday. “The contract for supplying gas to Pakistan is likely to be annulled,” Fars quoted Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh as saying on the sidelines of a gas forum in Tehran on Wednesday. He gave no other details, Fars said. Under the contract, Iran is supposed to export 21.5 million cubic metres of gas per day to Pakistan from next year. Dubbed the “peace pipeline”, the $7.5 billion project has faced repeated delays since it was conceived in the 1990s to connect Iran’s giant South Pars gas field to Pakistan and India. Iran has already spent hundreds of million or dollars and nearly completed the 900 km pipeline to the Pakistan border. Pakistan, although suffering from severe gas shortages, has made little progress on its part of the line due to a lack of funds and warnings it could be in violation of US sanctions on Iran. Zanganeh’s comments came two days after his Pakistani counterpart, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, was quoted by local media as saying that Pakistan risked being punished by sanctions on Iran if it goes ahead with the much-maligned project. Until now Iranian officials have insisted that the project to supply Islamabad will be completed. Exasperated by the lack of work across the border, Iran has even offered to build Pakistan’s 780-kilometre section and provide multi-million dollar loans to help pay for it, according to Iranian media reports. India quit the project in 2009, citing costs and security issues, a year after it signed a nuclear deal with Washington.
A US drone strike targeting a house Thursday in Miranshah area of North Waziristan killed three people and injured three more. An official in the city of Peshawar confirmed the attack, saying the identities of the people were immediately unclear.The Pakistani defence ministry Wednesday said 317 US drone strikes in the country's tribal areas had killed 67 civilians and 2,160 militants in Pakistan since 2008.