08/30/2007, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Christians threatened with death over 3 month period, general public indifferent

Minorities Concern of Pakistan warns of an increase in threats and the complete indifference of the government and police.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – For last three months religious minorities in Pakistan have been receiving death threats from Islamic fundamentalists “if they fail to convert to Islam”. The warning was reported by Minorities Concern of Pakistan, a human rights vigil group.

According to a statement from the group the threats to minorities (especially in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Punjab) “began in May last but the most recent episode dates to August 25th: Christians of Shantinagr, a Christian village in south Punjab, invited to convert or face death.” 

The letter reads: “We have already sent you letter some times back but you did not follow our advice. We know, you have torn or burnt the letter. Through this action you have committed blasphemy so you are liable to death. We will only leave you alone if you will follow our demand otherwise you will be killed”.

Saleem Dutt, a local inhabitant says: “People are so scared and do not know what to do. Police and other local authorities are not taking this issue seriously. People are living in constant fear”. Similar letters, threatening phone calls were also made to Hindus and Sikhs, who neither receive any help.

A Christian Member of the National Assembly also raised the issue during a parliament session. He urged the government to take a serious note of the incident as it had created a sense of insecurity among the minorities. . The speaker of the house did not take the matter seriously and asked to be reminded about it “in the presence of the interior minister”.

Christians, Hindus and Sikhs from a miniscule minority in the NWF province, where they live under constant pressure of social prejudice and intolerance.  Many local laws state that they are “inferior” citizens, such as the blasphemy law, which is often used to settle personal problems.

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