Pakistan Anglican Bishop addresses persecution of Christians

Aug 30, 2023 by

Supreme Court of Pakistan takes up petition against the forced conversion

August 30, 2023

The Most Rev. Dr. Azad Marshall gave this address at the Asia’s biggest Lahore Bar Association. The Lahore Bar Association invited His Grace to address their house. The House presented a resolution to condemn attack on innocent Christians and their Churches in Jaranwala.

Here are the salient points of His Grace’s speech:

(1) Ensuring Accountability for Inaction:
It is disheartening that the incident in Jaranwala took place over an extended period with police acting as silent spectators. This raises concerns about the accountability of law enforcement agencies in preventing and responding to such incidents.

(2) Safeguarding Against Misuse of Blasphemy Laws:
The misuse of blasphemy laws to settle personal vendettas is a well-known issue. Despite recommendations by respected voices such as Islamabad High Court’s former judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and the Senate Human Rights Committee, little progress has been made in implementing safeguarding against false accusations.

(3) Accountability for False Accusations:
To deter false accusers, it is essential to consider imposing the same punishment they falsely accuse others of. This approach would act as a strong deterrent against malicious allegations, ensuring the seriousness of such accusations are never taken lightly again.

(4) Uniform Application of Law:
Creating a unified law against the desecration of all holy scriptures, alongwith with consistent application regardless of faith affiliation, is essential for promoting equality and fairness within the legal system.

(5) Ensuring Due Process in Blasphemy Cases:
When blasphemy allegations are involved, a comprehensive investigation led by senior officials prior to filing an FIR could prevent unwarranted arrests and the prolonged detention of individuals without sufficient evidence. This approach would uphold human rights and mitigate wrongful incarceration.

(6) Learning from Past Tragedies:
The incidents in Shantinagar, Gojra, Joseph Colony, and now Jaranwala underscore the need for a thorough judicial inquiry into the underlying factors that contribute to such violence. Implementing the recommendations of such inquiries would be a preventive measure against future attacks, ensuring that justice is served, and that communities can coexist peacefully. Sent from my iPad

FOOTNOTE: Bishop Azad writes:

Our prayers have been answered today as after a prolonged delay of two years the Supreme Court of Pakistan has finally taken up a petition we filed against the forced conversion and forced marriage of an underage Christian girl child, Nayab Gill, and issued notices to the Federation of Pakistan and others.

Nayab was barely 14 years old when she was taken from her poor parents in Gujranwala in June 2021. The Lahore High Court had rejected the petition of her poor parents and handed the child in the custody of her so-called Muslim husband by relying only on her statement, which was ostensibly given under duress as is witnessed in almost all such cases.

We hope that the august Supreme Court will address the disconnect between the Penal and Sharia laws relating to majority age (for marriage) hence providing a deterrent against forced faith conversions of minority girls in Pakistan.


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