08/03/2004, 00.00
PAKISTAN - IRAQ
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Christians, too, condemn the killing of two Pakistani hostages in Iraq

by Qaiser Felix

Islamabad (AsiaNews) –For Manzoor W. Bhatti, "killing two Pakistani hostages is not a fight for a freedom. It is a simple form of cruelty because terrorists have no religion and no sympathies for humanity. Our compatriots, killed in Iraq because of our government active role against international terrorism, are shaheed (martyrs in the way of Allah)."   

Bhatti is the founder and president of 'Teach Awareness through Skill and Knowledge' (TASK), a Lahore-based welfare organization. He is also Protestant and not the only Christian condemning the July 28 killing of Sajiid Naeem, a 29-year-old driver, and Azad Hussein Khan, a 49-year-old engineer by the "Islamic Army in Iraq". Other leaders of Pakistan's Christian communities share in the pain caused by the latest violence against the innocent.

"As Christians we want peace in the whole world," said Msgr. Lawrence John Saldanha, Archbishop of Lahore. "Violence and killings cannot solve any problems." He added: "We equally share the grief and sorrow of the mourning families and demand the remains be immediately repatriated in Pakistan."

The same emotions were expressed by Ejaz Ghauri, president of the Christian Progressive Movement. "There is no justification for such killings . . .  We share the pain and sorrow of the families."

"Killing one individual is like killing the whole of humanity," said Father Zacharia Ghauri, from St. Mary's Seminary in Lahore.

Peter Jacob, executive secretary of National Commission for Justice and Peace-Pakistan, went further and voiced concern for those still in Iraq. "No one," he said, "is safe in Iraq today. . . . World leaders should work together to take the necessary steps to stop this violence and barbarianism."

Akram Shaheedi, a spokesperson for the Pakistani government in Islamabad, condemned in harsh words the murder of the two hostages. "Those who committed this crime have caused the greatest harm to both humanity and Islam."

In spite of being Muslim, the two hostages were guilty in the eyes of the terrorists of working for US forces in Iraq. In their statement claiming responsibility, the kidnappers said the hostages were also killed because of remarks made by Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf regarding a possible role for Pakistani troops in Iraq in protecting the UN mission. In them Mursharraf indicated that Pakistan could send troops if invited by the Iraqi government and Pakistan's parliament approved the move.

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