This is the second time since the Sangla Hill attack that Christian leaders have called for the abrogation of the blasphemy law and for an end to religious fundamentalism.
Lahore (AsiaNews) The Sangla Hill case "must be treated like an example, to give a strong message to fanatics and terrorists who with their actions endanger the very existence of Pakistan".
This was thrust of a letter sent by Pakistani Christian leaders to President Musharraf on 20 December. The message was signed by the Archbishop of Lahore and president of the Bishops' Conference, Mgr Lawrence Saldanha, by Reverend Alexander J. Malik, moderator of Protestant churches and by Victor Azariah, secretary-general of the National Council of Pakistan Churches.
The 12 November attack is "deplorable" and the religious leaders "lamented the fact that it was instigated by violent speeches which are still being made, and that the true instigators are free."
We reproduce the full text of the letter below:
His Excellency, General Parvez Musharraf, President of Pakistan,
Once again, we the religious leaders of the Christian Community of Pakistan would like to convey to you some urgent concerns arising from the deplorable incident of Sangla Hill on Nov 12,2005 when a mob of extremists attacked and destroyed three churches, two pastors' houses, one convent of nuns, a girls hostel and two schools. It is regrettable that they were instigated by certain leaders and the law enforcing agencies failed in their duty to stop them.
We submitted a joint memorandum, dated 14 Nov 2005, to Your Excellency describing the incident and calling for strong and affirmative action against the culprits who took the law into their own hands on an unproven allegation. Unfortunately, we did not receive an acknowledgement or statement from you.
We are grateful that the Chief Minister of Punjab, Ch. Parvez Elahi, together with some federal ministers, responded to our appeal and visited the site and promised to punish the culprits and make complete compensation. We appreciate that the repairs on the Catholic Church and pastor's house are proceeding quite satisfactorily.
But the whole Christian community in Pakistan still feels very disturbed, fearful and insecure and some strong measures still need to be taken to reassure them, which we list below:
We hope you will redress these genuine concerns of Pakistani society in general and religious minorities in particular and for our part we assure you that we Christians will continue to play our part for the peace, well-being and progress of our homeland, Pakistan. We pray for your safety and welfare.
With respectful good wishes