Pakistan’s Christians are vulnerable and need support from the international community more than ever, says a Pakistani Christian politician Shunila Ruth.
Christians are “constantly under threat”, and the government is content to see them remain downtrodden, she said in the Punjab Assembly. While giving a vent to her annoyance, she said, “We need the international support and help to stand with us on these issues because, as a Christian community alone, it will not be possible to overcome this.”
“Internally, they do not listen to us. The government does not care. Its policy is to keep them divided, not giving them education of opportunities; so they are a suppressed community, and cannot rise above resolving their issues of bread and butter.”
While remarking about the Lahore attack, where the Christian community had been targeted by the terrorists, she said that politicians, mainly the opposition leaders, had previously warned that the park was susceptible, because it was devoid of police or security cameras. She continued to criticize the provincial government for its reluctance to safeguard the minorities she said that even the army was aware that there were terrorists in the area, yet the local government was constantly “in denial”, claiming that there were no no-go areas in Lahore.
After the attack, she continued, that hundreds of suspects were hooked, “Had this operation been done earlier, these children, this attack on the park, could have been avoided.”
She complained that the government shows biasness towards the Christian victims of terrorism, in comparison to the Muslim victims. Government does not offer same support to the Christian and Muslims victimized by the terror strikes. The Youhanabad incident is a very clear example of this biased attitude, she said.
On the other hand, she censured the Pakistani Muslim leaders saying that they certainly condemn attacks on the Christians, however, the question is “Do they really mean it? I have seen Muslim clerics denouncing such incidents, condemning those incidents, but on the other hand making another statement . . .”
Ms. Shunila while remarking about the notorious blasphemy laws clarified that Pakistan’s Christians are not demanding annulment of the blasphemy laws. “What we are saying is that this law should take its course rather than people take it in their hands”. She added that people found guilty of bringing false blasphemy accusations should get punished.
She criticized the provincial government for saying that Christians were safe since the provincial government had already beefed up the security at churches, Christians were “as safe as anyone else,” a spokesperson of Punjab government stated.
The security situation is not up to the mark, she said while saying that in some churches, there is only one “very lethargic” police officer deployed, while there are some churches where there is none. Without any security, it is very easy for anyone to enter the church, whereas, churches are asked to make arrangements for security on their own.
She further said that unlike many other countries in the world, Christians are not well educated or financially stable. “The important thing is to educate people, give them political awareness, and skills and training so that they are on their own and economically strong,” she says.
“Then they can fight their problems. Otherwise they will be crushed and thrown next to the wall and no one will listen to them. It’s a big challenge for churches in Pakistan, and I am sure that they are now putting their heads together to see how they can resolve these issues.”