Friday, September 8, 2017
Christian teenager in Pakistan beaten to death by classmates after drinking from same glass as Muslim boy
A 17-year-old Christian has been beaten to death by his fellow classmates at a school in Pakistan. Sharoon Masih, the lone Christian student in his year, had only attended the school in South Punjab for three days. After complaining to his parents of bullying, he was set upon by pupils after drinking from the same glass as a Muslim, according to other students at the MC Model Boys Government School Burewala who witnessed the attack. Although anti-Christian violence is common in the Muslim nation, the youthfulness of the mob in this case marks an ugly first for the country. The attack and arrests Mr Masih’s teacher, Nazir Mol, originally claimed that he had not noticed any disturbance in the classroom as he had been reading a newspaper at the time. Autopsy reports confirm that Mr Masih died as the result of repeated blows to his head and body. Sharoon Masih, the lone Christian student in his year, had only attended the school in South Punjab for three days.
Police have arrested one student, Muhammad Ahmed Rana, who told police that he lashed out after Mr Masih broke the screen on his phone. Mr Rana has so far refused to name others involved in the attack, which occurred on August 27th. “No proper investigation is being done,” Mr Masih’s mother, Razia Bibi, told i. His loss is “huge” to the family, she added, “we had great intimacy and were looking to him to support us and his sibling as we grow old.” The head-teacher, Saleem Tahir, who was suspended following the attack, is still attending school, according to the British Pakistani Christian Association.
Only Christian in year group Mr Masih was sent by his parents to MC Model Boys Government School after topping his class in the village school. His father, who worked at a brick kiln factory, had to save for years to afford even the nominal attendance fee. Unable to pay for the school uniform, Sharoon turned up on his first day in casual clothes. He told his mother that his teacher slapped him twice on the face, and forced him to stand outside all day in the sun. Mr Mol also called him “chuhra”, he said – a highly-offensive caste-based insult – and other boys tried to force him to convert to Islam. “Sharoon and I cried every night as he described the torture he was subjected”, said Mrs Bibi.
The killing “serves only to remind us that hatred towards religious minorities is bred into the majority population at a young age, through cultural norms and a biased national curriculum”, said Wilson Chowdhry, the chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, which is raising money to hire a solicitor to “circumnavigate police inertia.” In April, a Pakistani university student was beaten to death and had his corpse dragged around campus by a mob of his peers, after an unconfirmed allegation that he committed blasphemy. Read more at: https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/world/pakistani-student-beaten-death-classmates/
As political parties in the Punjab prepare for one of the most decisive and intense elections of the year - the election to replace disqualified Nawaz Sharif’s NA seat - one major political party is noticeably absent from the mainstream. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in its time had a voter bank of 50,000-plus votes in most national constituencies in Lahore, yet in this very crucial election it has mostly been reduced to the sidelines.
Former president Asif Ali Zardari certainly stated in late August the importance of the election of NA-120 and urged party workers to do their utmost best to ensure Faisal Mir’s victory. However, it seems his words were not taken to heart by the party leadership as PPP has pushed forward a very underwhelming and meager election campaign. PPP’s gathering at Islampura seemed more of a small meeting than a rally as important party members failed to show up. Nor has PPP made any major marketing effort nor put any significant funding to the election campaign in a race where PTI and PML(N) have flooded the area with their election banners.
PPP’s lackluster election campaign reflects the losing influence of the party in Punjab and reveals the party’s own mindset of seemingly giving up Punjab to becoming a largely regional party. Where in 2008 PPP candidate Jahangir Badar managed to snag 24,380 votes in NA 120; in 2013 the party only collected some 2604 votes, and it seems that this year, it is not even aiming for that. Perhaps it is PPP’s demise in the Punjab that has paved the way for other parties to step out in the political sphere and attempt to fill the lacuna. Most noticeable is Milli Muslim League, established by Hafiz Saeed’s Jamatud Dawa, which has put forward its own candidate Yaqoob Sheikh for NA 120 and is showing strength.
Even if the party did not predict a win in this election, it should nevertheless have put forward prominent support and highlighted this election for democracy’s sake. For a party which has always emphasised democracy and the constitution and has whole heartedly supported Nawaz’s disqualification, its desertion of such a symbolic election is ill-advised to say the least.
By leaving the stage of Punjab, the party leaves a vacuum which could be filled by radical and troublesome parties. PPP should stick to its slogan of “Bhutto will never die” and ensure its relevance in places other than Sindh.