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Pakistan’s Shia Hazara’s take arms to defend themselves

(AFP Published: February 28, 2013)
Extremist bombers killed nearly 200 people in Quetta in the two worst bomb attacks to strike Shia Muslims from the minority Hazara community, just weeks apart on January 10 and February 16.
After each attack, thousands of Hazaras, including women and children, camped out in the bitter cold demanding that the army step in to protect them. The government brokered an end to the protests, but refused to mobilise the troops.
Outlawed extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility and has threatened to exterminate all Shias. Few believe that dozens of men rounded up after the bomb attacks will ever be brought to justice.
The Supreme Court and rights groups accuse the authorities of failing to protect Hazaras and now young men like 18-year-old Ismatullah are taking up arms to defend themselves and their families.
Ismatullah’s best friend was shot dead last June near Hazara Town. He lost more friends when suicide bombers flattened a snooker hall on January 10 and a massive bomb hidden in a water tanker destroyed a market on February 16.
“I couldn’t control myself when I saw scattered pieces of so many children and women of our community,” said the first year college student.
“Our community is only interested in education and business, but terrorists have forced us to take up whatever arms we have and take to the streets for our own security.”
At the moment they operate as volunteers under the name, Syedul- hohada Scouts, registered as part of the Balochistan Scouts Association, an affiliate of the worldwide scouting movement.
For years, young men like Ismatullah have volunteered to protect sensitive events, such as religious processions during the holy month of Muharram.
But their chairman says the threat is now so great that they should be paid full time as an auxiliary to government security forces.
“We have around 200 young men who perform security duties on specific occasions, but most of them are students and workers, and can’t work full-time,” said Syed Zaman, chairman of the Hazara Scouts.
“We are trying to make a system to start their salaries for permanent deployment and also coordinate with the security agencies. Hopefully, we will be able to form a regular force… and salaries in a month,” he said.
Scouts president Ghulam Haider said it was a mistake to rely on government security when the first of two suicide bombers struck at the snooker hall in the Alamdar Road neighbourhood.
“It resulted in another bomb blast minutes after the first one and we lost many more people,” Haider told AFP.
“We didn’t want that to happen again, so immediately after the blast on February 16, we armed our youth to man the streets and entry points, which helped to prevent the chances of a second attack,” he claimed.
Hazara Town, where the market was bombed, is very exposed, in the shadow of the Chiltan mountains and near the bypass which links the Afghan border town of Chaman to Karachi.
While paramilitary Frontier Corps and police patrol the main approaches, they are not visible inside the neighbourhood.
“Security agencies can’t protect us. They don’t know the area because most of them come from outside Quetta. So we’re planning to set up our own permanent posts inside our areas,” said Haider.
The police, however, have their doubts.
“If we start private policing by arming one particular community, it will set the wrong precedent,” said Fiaz Ahmed Sunbal, head of Quetta police operations.
He claimed police were planning to close entrances to Hazara Town, and would recruit 200 young Hazaras to patrol their own areas.
Haider says closing off roads will isolate the community but welcomed the recruitment of Hazara Scouts as a long-term solution.
Others warn that time is running out.
“If they don’t do anything and something happens again, we will take up guns and go out and kill our opponents. There will be open war,” said 26-year-old shopkeeper Zahid Ali.

Article published by The Express Tribune visible at the following link: http://tribune.com.pk/story/513788/pakistans-hazaras-take-up-arms-over-attacks/

Annunci

Forced Conversions to Islam: no way out for non-muslim pakistani girls!

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(Amar Sindu for Dawn Blogs) “Today is February 24. Last year, on the same date, Rinkle was picked up from her house. Her house was left in a state that suggested that a burglary had occurred and valuables were stolen. Her dupatta and her chappals were left lying on the doorstep.

When she was first presented in a court in Mirpur Mathelo, she requested to be returned to her parents. The court, instead of listening to her, replied that she ‘was confused’ and therefore, should spend time reconsidering the predicament and handed her back to her abductors. It was as if the court was confused itself.

She was presented in court again on Feb 28, where, in her statement, she recited the kalma and became ‘Faryal Bibi’ from Rinkle. The entire process took less than 10 minutes. Her conversion to Islam was greeted by aerial firing by her captors who had brought her to court surrounded by armed guards. This was a new victory for them.

‘Faryal Bibi’ was then taken to Dargah Bharchondi’s seat-bearer and PPP’s Mian Mithu, while the gunfire echoed across the town. She was his guest and was taken to and from court surrounded by his guards. Actually, this victory was not the only feather in the dargah’s cap. The dargah’s deeds, ranging from the Manzalgah mosque that became famous for its role during the pre-Partition communal riots in Sindh to the assassination of the singer Bhagat Kunwar Ram of the Hindu faith, were oft repeated. The dargah commonly converted non-Muslims to Islam before the Partition and this exercise continues steadily today.

This dargah is an ideal example in endeavours to increase the Muslim population from every corner of Sindh, starting from the Thar Desert to Kashmore. Then, how was it possible for the tilak-anointed schoolmaster, Rinkle’s father to fight for his kidnapped daughter’s return in this godsend Islamic republic state? Such news usually reaches the ears of human rights organisations or the media, a nutcase or two then run towards the news source just like the mullah runs towards the mosque to take up the case and bring it to justice. Bibi Faryal was familiar with Islam. Either Naveed Shah’s ishq was at its peak or the matter really was one of kidnapping and force that was being blamed upon Bharchondi’s seat-bearer Mian Mithu.

When the hue and cry became unbearable, the dargah’s owners brought Bibi to Karachi Press Club (KPC). But what was she going to say here? The dargah’s guards sat in their vehicles outside while the owners sat beside her inside. Bibi Faryal, fearfully, publicly repeated the kalma and revealed herself to the masses. The incident fanned criticism and protests by the civil society further, due to which, the high court was forced to take notice of the case. In the chambers of Justice Bajwa, a Sindh High Court judge, Bibi said that she ‘had been wronged’. It is unknown whether she was able to say anything else or not.

On March 26, she kept shouting that the court should ‘send her back to her mother instead of the shelter house in the court no. 1 of the Islamabad High Court (IHC). But just like the judge in Mirpur Mathelo’s court, the IHC judge mistook her yelling for anxiety and sent her to a shelter house instead of back to her mother so that she may, once again, reconsider her ‘predicament’. Unable to hug her weeping mother (as she was led away by female police women as if she were the criminal), at least she managed to tell her one thing,

“Mother, who are you asking for help? This country belongs to the Muslims. Everyone from the bottom to the top is an accomplice.”

This wasn’t the lament of the newly-converted Faryal but that of Rinkle whose voice had been suppressed amidst the noise in the courtroom. The next statement was taken in the registrar’s office instead of a courtroom and the newly-converted girl was sent home under police custody.

It was an end to the court’s story but just the beginning of a tale of pain and despair as no one expected any justice from any court. After Rinkle, it was the turn of Asha, Lata, Arvna, Devi and Bhagwanti. The chain of such events had changed so much.

Once, an uncle of another girl Durga came and showed me her birth certificate. Her date of birth was 2001. She was a minor who had been kidnapped from the street. About three days later, the news that she had converted to Islam was published in local newspapers. Her upset uncle asked me if there was any court in this land that would fight his case.

The grandmother of another minor girl, Vijanti from Umerkot who had been raped, broke down as she said that she would migrate to India with her granddaughter and their entire family if they didn’t get the justice they deserved. Their food and water was diminishing. Meanwhile, the Pakistani nation had wrapped itself in the coat of the Muslim ummah and had begun travelling on the road where there was no section for the identification of non-Muslim Pakistanis.

Another February 24 has arrived. The students of influential dargahs and/or madrassas are entering their youth. O you kafirs, protect your girls! The era of ulfat-e-Islam is about to begin for them as the list of young girls, newly-converted to Islam, is being prepared”.

Article by Amar Sindu for Dawn Blogs see the link at:http://dawn.com/2013/02/24/another-february-24/

Processo Diocesano per la Canonizazzione di Shahbaz Bhatti in occasione del secondo anniversario del martirio

Il Vicario Generale della Diocesi di Faisalabad P. Khalid Asi ha dichiarato al Prof. Shahid Mobeen che la Diocesi di Faisalabad sta preparando la documentazione per chiedere la Canonizazzione di Shahbaz Bhatti. Già il 5 Marzo, quando la Conferenza Episcopale Cattolica del Pakistan si unirà, il martirio e la canonizazzione di Shahbaz fa part dell’ordine del giorno. Invece 8 di Marzo, Venerdì, è stato organizzato il momento solenne per ricordare Shahbaz in occasione del suo secondo anniversario della morte.
La Presidente Onoraria dell’Associazione dei Pakistani Cristiani in Italia porterà due statue per la cattedrale di Faisalabad. Una statua è della Madonna di Medjugorie, Regina della Pace, e l’altra è del Sacro Cuore di Cristo. In quest’occasione si benedirà le statue.
Shahbaz Bhatti fu ucciso 2 di Marzo 2011 in Islamabad per la mano dei militanti della Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan.
Associazione dei Pakistani Cristiani in Italia ha organizzato la messa in suffraggio per Shahbaz Bhatti il 2 Marzo presso la Casa Generalizia dei Padri Oblati di Maria Immacolata, Roma. (per il programma vedi la brochure).
Messa in suffragio per Shahbaz Bhatti 2 Marzo 2013
Il 7 di Marzo La Cappella Universitaria dell’Università di Foggia insieme all’Associazione dei Pakistani Cristiani in Italia ha organizzato la presentazione del libro a cura di S. Mobeen “Religione e Libertà in Pakistan dal 1970 al 1990”.
secondo anniversario di Shahbaz a Foggia

Living Together with Diversity: Inter faith and Inter cultural Dialogue: Dr Paul Jacob Bhatti

Honorable Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Federal Ministers, State Ministers, Excellencies, Ulemas, Parliamentarians, Senators, distinguished ladies and gentleman, on behalf of the Ministry of National Harmony, it is my great honor to express my sincere thanks to all of you for being with us today to participate in this significant and meaningful National Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue Conference entitled “Living Together with Diversity.”
Ladies and gentleman, our Ministry of National Harmony, was established recently with the prime objective to promote interfaith dialogue and relationship among people of diverse faith traditions and cultures, as a means towards creating a peaceful harmonious coexistence in our nation.
We do realize that we are passing through a very delicate and difficult phase in our country, where terrorism, sectarian violence, extremism and discrimination has hit the maximum peak of our history. As a result, we have paid a terrible price loosing thousands of precious innocent lives.
These forces of violence have robbed us as a nation of our full potential, creating instability and a decline in our e
conomy. Internationally, we are often being treated with suspicion and in the minds of some considered a risk and at its worst as a terrorist. Several Pakistanis, living abroad express facing allot of embarrassment and obstacles in their careers. Everyday we are faced with the cruel harsh realities with the sacrifices of innocent lives due to forces of violence and intolerance that continues to be nourished by poverty and illiteracy.
Sadly, there are specific mindsets that have divided our nation creating hate, intolerance, and discrimination between all sects of life.
It is clearly anti-religious, anti-Islamic, anti-human, and against what was envisioned by our Founding Father Quaid-e. Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who dreamed to see a country like Pakistan where people of all faith traditions could live peacefully together without discrimination and fear.
The urgency of the hour, requires that we move forward standing together as a diverse community, against this mindset, which has for too long weakened our society and stripped us as a Nation of our full potential to flourish and grow.
Our commitment must be to meet any challenge and to develop ways to resolve disputes with peace. This situation demands careful thoughts, steady nerves resolute action not only for now but for the years to come. It demands the participation of all those who rely and are concerned with global peace and stability. Meeting these challenges will take diplomatic and political wisdom and maybe more sacrifices will have to be made. We must call on the best that is in us to preserve the security of this crucial region. Our deep commitment to have basic human rights and meeting human needs will require collective efforts.
The truth of the matter is that our country Pakistan is a land of opportunity, it is a land of peace, a land of resources. I am proud to say that this is the genesis of all civilizations, a Holy land with the fact that all traditions, cultures, great religions of the world have, their deep roots in our soil.
We know that the seeds of our diverse cultures, traditions and religions, are nourished in the soil of love, peace, equality and justice for all humanity. Therefore, it is very clear that our cultural traditions and religious beliefs are challenged by forces of violence and evil and we all must overcome by our united struggle sending and living this strong message from this platform today that there is no space for discrimination, hatred, violence in our society.
It is with this in mind, I would like to acknowledge with high appreciation and applaud our Ulumas/Religious leaders, who have been faithful in giving and living this message of unity, love and peace condemning, every act of violence in this country.
To our friends in the media, who bring the truth to the public domain, daily often at risk of their own lives, when they report injustices and inequality against victims of these forces of violence and promoting peace.
To all of the law enforcing agencies, that continue to put their lives on the line every day protecting all of us facilitating justice in our land.
To our politicians; especially our Great leaders, who laid down their lives promoting democracy, equality and unity.
Lastly, my thanks and appreciation to the International communities, who have condemned all forces of evil and supported us in our fight against our enemies of poverty, illiteracy, violence and intolerance.
These efforts should be expressed unanimously by all of us by peaceful means using our weapon of “unity with diversity.” It is only together, we can eradicate every kind of discrimination, hate and intolerance from this country.
To achieve our goal it is fundamental to not only talk but to establish concrete steps and roadmaps to fight against all these enemies of humanity. We believe that there are no irreconcilable differences between us and any other religious tradition. We must respect the faith of each other and be ready to co-operate with all our nationals.
This conference today is not just an event but a call to action. As a Ministry, we request our Ulamas/Religious leaders, scholars and representatives of different religious traditions to give us concrete proposals to overcome the forces of hate, discrimination and intolerance.
I am quite confident that our message today will have a ripple effect both nationally and internationally that our Nation Pakistan, is standing against any force dividing us in the name of religion and any form of discrimination between race, gender or creed.
I conclude recalling one of our national songs; based in the ideology of our Founding Father, which says:
“keep closed these doors of hatred, violence and discrimination, holding and keeping up our green and white flag.”
The Pakistan flag represents our true identity as a people. “Unity with diversity,” because this is the only way forward to bring peace.

21 February 2013

Talebani nel Parlamento Pakistano?

Dopo un’insistente richiesta della Jamaat-e-Islami e Jamiat-e-Ulma-e-Islam (F) il Governo e 24 partiti politici e religiosi sono entrati in dialogo con il Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan e il primo appuntamento è stato proprio ieri il 14 di Febbraio, il giorno di S. Valentino.
Ehsanullah Ehsan, portavoce degli Talebani Pakistani, ha fatto sapere ai media che convocare l’appuntamento per le negoziazioni proprio il giorno di S. Valentino è stato un passo politico da parte dei partiti politici. Anche se i nomi dei membri del consiglio dei Talebani, che negozieranno, è stato deciso ma Ehsanullah ha rifiutato di rivelarli.
Secondo alcuni analisiti sembra che i Talebani in questa interazione, con il Governo e i partiti politici, prima delle elezioni aspettono una quota nella “seat adjustment” nel prossimo Governo.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)ha governato per cinque anni dopo il Governo militare di Pervez Musharaf arrivando ad un’accordo con la Lega Musulmana (N) e per cui li ha dato il Governo Regionale del Punjab con la Presidenza della Regione a Shahbaz Sharif, fratello di Nawaz Sharif. Fin’ora la Lega Musulmana (N) fa da Opposizione a livello di Governo Federale (Nazionale). Dopo le prossime elezioni la situazione sarà esattamente il rovescio in quanto secondo questo accordo la PPP sarà il partito d’Opposizione a livello Federale (Nazionale) mentre la Lega Musulmana li concederà il Governo della Regione del Sindh (rocca forte della PPP). Lega Musulmana già si sta muovendo per istituire il Governo in alleanza con la Jamaat-e-Islami e Jamiat-e-Ulma-e-Islam (F) che sono i partiti religiosi.
Non è ancora chiaro chi concederà la quota al Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan!

Dr Paul Bhatti pays rich tribute to outgoing His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

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We were sad and surprised after receiving the news of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to step down from his office, Dr Paul Bhatti Minister In Charge for the Ministry of National Harmony said this while talking to media. Dr Paul said that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI had been working tirelessly on inter-faith harmony and promotion of peace in the world. Dr Bhatti also stated that the outgoing pope had reiterated on numerous occasions that the only way forward to bring peace in the world was to live together with tolerance and diversity.
“ On one hand, we are saddened that he is stepping down but on the other hand we honour with high appreciation his courageous decision wherein he stated that it was difficult for him to carry on duties of the Petrine ministry due to his advanced age”, said the minister.
We also remember his unquestionable commitment for global peace and his wise and resounding voice that he raised whenever there was an incident of religious discrimination, stated the minister. Dr Bhatti said that the Pope was always a beacon of light in promoting religious dialogue and reconciliation. Dr Paul further stated that the Pope was also a strong advocate for furthering Muslim-Christian brotherhood.
Dr Paul also paid rich tributes to persistent and selfless services of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and wished him great health.

Il Grido degli Innocenti: Cecilia San Giorgi intervista il vescovo Shaw, Gran Imam Azad e il Prof. Mobeen

Mariam Manisha
(Foto di “Maria Goretti pakistana” Mariam Masih, Archivio Associazione dei Pakistani Cristiani in Italia)
Cecilia san Giorgi ha intervistato il vescovo Sebastian Francis Shaw, Amministratore Apostolico dell’Arcidiocesi di Lahore, Gran Imam Khabir Azad, Grande Moschea di Lahore, e il Prof. Shahid Mobeen, Pontificia Università Lateranense Vaticano, sulla situazione dei pakistani cristiani e la situazione dei diritti umani. I tre intervistati hanno messo in evidenza la reale situazione delle minoranze religiose pakistane, in particolare la persecuzione dei cristiani, la volontà del Governo a proteggere i propri cittadini e di dargli la possibilità di crescere e servire il paese. Cecilia san Giorgi ha realizzato la puntata sulle minoranze religiose in Pakistan per il programma Le Frontiere dello Spirito del Canale 5. S. E. Cardinale Gianfranco Ravasi ha commentato le Sacre Scritture della Domenica. La trasmissione può essere seguita sul presente link: http://www.video.mediaset.it/video/frontiere_dello_spirito/full/372477/puntata-del-10-febbraio.html

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