05/06/2008, 00.00
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Pakistani Christians praying for Israel which Islamabad ought to recognise

The president of the Association of Pakistani Christians calls on the government to recognise the state of Israel and establish diplomatic relations out of a sense of justice and to allow Pakistani Christians to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Karachi (AsiaNews) – Christians across Pakistan are praying for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel in the hope that one day Islamabad and Tel Aviv may establish diplomatic relations and allow them to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, said Asharf P. Butt, president of the Association of Pakistani Christians, at a press conference in Karachi organised to express best wishes for Israel and its population.

The organisation “demanded once again that the government of Pakistan recognise Israel and normalise diplomatic relations,” Asharf said, “not only as a question of international justice but also to allow Pakistan’s ten million Christians to make a pilgrimage in the land of the Bible.”

Christians in Pakistan “have a long-standing dream, to visit this land but cannot because of the current diplomatic situation,” he said. “This means that we are deprived of our religious rights. Hence we shall pray in all of Pakistan’s churches for peace and protection for the holy city of Jerusalem.”

Israel is in a permanent and high state of tension with Arab states, except Jordan and Egypt. And apart from for Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Mauritania and Albania, no Muslim state has recognises the Jewish state to date or established diplomatic relations.

In 2004 Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had raised some hope about normalising relations with Israel but the country’s fundamentalist fringes dashed it.

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