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    » 06/05/2009, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Pakistani Catholic leaders come out against the Taliban and the imposition of the jizya

    Qaiser Felix

    Tax on non-Muslims is a threat that violates basic human rights. In tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan more than 700 non-Muslim families are persecuted and forced to pay. Federal Religious Minorities minister strongly condemns the tax, pledges help for the victims.
    Lahore (AsiaNews) – The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) has condemned the imposition of the Jizya, the poll tax for non-Muslims, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on the border with Afghanistan because of its discriminatory nature and because it constitutes a direct threat to basic human rights.

    Mgr John Saldanha, archbishop of Lahore, and Peter Jacob, NCJP executive secretary, have urged the federal and provincial governments in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) to do something to alleviate the plight of non-Muslim families forced to “hand over their hard earned bread and butter to the extremists.”

    Lashkar-e-Islam, a militant Islamist organisation based in Bara, about 10 kilometres south-west of Peshawar, is responsible for applying the tax.

    Local sources said that more than 700 non-Muslim families have had to pay the tax.

    NCJP leaders have complained about the lack of security among religious minorities in Orkazai and Khyber agency areas and that they are victims of harassment, religious taxation and expulsion.

    The tax also is a threat to the country’s “democratic credentials and political system”. For this reason the government “should make it clear that Pakistan is a democratic country that cannot allow religious minorities to be subjected to such discrimination and economic injustice because they are equal citizens and not a conquered people.” These principles, the NCJP statement said, “are still part of the Constitution and the political system.”

    Religious Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti reacted to the appeals of Catholic leaders by strongly condemning the demand on non-Muslims to pay the jizya.

    Speaking to AsiaNews, the minister, who is Catholic, said that the tax “is illegal, unethical and against the Constitution of Pakistan.”

    Moreover, in condemning those who perpetrate violence in the name of religion, he insisted that the protection of non-Muslims “is our constitutional obligation and moral duty”. The government, he reiterated, “will not let the Taliban threat and harm the minorities.”

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    See also

    05/05/2008 PAKISTAN
    Church launches workshop in Lahore to train for peace
    The National Commission for Justice and Peace inaugurates a peace education programme that brings together Christians and Muslims to give dialogue a chance after years of violence clashes.

    26/09/2009 PAKISTAN
    All students in Pakistan’s schools required to study Islam
    The Commission for Justice and Peace of the Church of Pakistan criticizes the new guidelines for public education. Concern for the civics books that offer only the Islamic point of view.

    15/11/2007 PAKISTAN
    Countdown for democracy in Islamabad
    After five years pro-Musharraf National Assembly is dissolved at the stroke of midnight tonight. Elections are scheduled for January 9 but arrests and human rights violations continue throughout the country. Justice and Peace Commission calls for a return to constitutional rule and an independent judiciary.

    05/06/2008 PAKISTAN
    Pakistani Church urges government to uphold the constitution against extremism
    In a press statement issued by the National Commission for Justice and Peace, Church leaders call on the government to amend the constitution to fight discrimination and religious intolerance. They also express support for the judges sacked by Musharraf.

    04/06/2009 PAKISTAN
    Christians, Hindus and Sikhs forced to pay the Taliban “protection” money
    Non-Muslims in villages along the northern Afghan-Pakistani border are forced to pay the jizya. Lashkar-e-Islam wants a thousand rupee per adult male to allow non-Muslims to live there with the right to travel. In Orakzai area the Taliban take over two stores and various houses owned by Sikhs. Some families are forced to pay up to 20 million rupees in order to stay.



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