PRAYER ALERT: Court offers hope of justice as Pakistan’s Christians endure attacks

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A Christian boy was killed, two women believers assaulted and two brothers tortured to make them convert in separate incidents in Pakistan recently.

Please pray for the church in Pakistan, which continues to suffer violent persecution. At the same time we thank God that an order by the country’s Supreme Court has given hope of justice to Christians in Jaranwala, the scene of a violent mob attack last summer.

Two weeks ago Muslim gunmen shouting threats against Christians shot dead a 14-year-old Christian, Sunil Masih, according to Christian Daily International-Morning Star News  (CDI-MSN) sources.

Sunil and other Christians were standing in a market in the Mandiala Warraich area of Gujranwala District, Punjab Province, on the evening of Monday, February 5, when six men armed with pistols arrived on motorcycles and opened fire on them, said the boy’s uncle, Mehboob Gill.

One of the attackers reportedly shouted ‘that no Christian in the area should be left alive,’ Gill said.

The other boys took cover behind a wall before the gunmen fled while shouting threats at the Christians. So far none have been arrested.

‘We rushed Sunil to a local hospital, but he succumbed to his bullet wound before doctors could begin their treatment,’ Gill said.

Rev Numan Matto of the Gondalanwala Presbyterian Church in Gujranwala said the murder was religiously motivated.

‘In May 2023, some Muslim youths disrupted a marriage ceremony of Christians and also attacked a church,’ he told CDI-MSN. ‘However, police and the district administration did not take any action against the influential accused, despite several protests by the Christian community.’

Between 400 to 450 Christians have lived in the area peaceably for decades, but recently the environment has turned hostile toward religious minorities, he said.

Fearing more attacks, he urged senior police and district administration officials to ensure the protection of the area’s Christians. ‘Sunil’s murderers are at large, and the audacity of their attack shows that they will not hesitate to strike again,’ he said.

In a separate incident in Punjab province on January 27 two Christian women, sisters-in-law aged in their 30s, were attacked in a field by the landowner who was armed with an axe and attempted to rape one of them.

Police have appeared slow to prosecute the man in Sargodha District, CDI-MSN reported.

When one of the women resisted the man’s attempt to sexually assault her, he struck her repeatedly with the axe handle, her husband told CDI-MSN. He said that when his sister tried to intervene the man attacked her too.

CDI-MSN also reported that two Christians were tortured into converting to Islam in Sialkot District last month.

Azam Masih, 28, and his brother, Nadeem, were abducted, beaten with iron rods and pressured ‘to recite the Kalima [proclamation of Islamic conversion] if they wanted to save their lives, threatening to kill them if they refused’, said Adil Ghauri, chairman of the Movement for Christian Awakening. ‘The tortured brothers had no choice but to surrender to this demand.’

In an action that offered hope of justice to Christians last week Pakistan’s Supreme Court reprimanded the Punjab Province government over its progress report on anti-Christian attacks in Jaranwala, terming it ‘worthy of being thrown into the dustbin’.

The court ordered officials to submit a new report within 10 days.

Heading a three-judge bench hearing a case in Islamabad on the rights of minorities and the August 16 attacks in Jaranwala, which left multiple churches and Christians’ homes destroyed, Chief Justice of Pakistan, Qazi Faez Isa, said that he felt ashamed after seeing the report.

‘I am feeling ashamed that only 18 challans [charge sheets] were submitted in the case in the last six months,’ Isa said. ‘We keep raising hue and cry over “Islamophobia” wherever we go in the world. But what are we doing here in Pakistan?’

Church and community leaders welcomed the chief justice’s order. ‘There’s some hope now of justice for the poor Christians of Jaranwala,’ Church of Pakistan president Bishop Azad Marshall told CDI-MSN.

(Source: Christian Daily International-Morning Star News)