Civil society: Justice for Christian street sweeper Qamar Masih Bhatti, stripped and tortured (VIDEO)
by Shafique Khokhar

Members of various parties confess shame at the video that the torturers shot and demand justice for the victim. Qamar Bhatti is a victim of usury. His loan sharks include three Christians. Warning: the video contains scenes of violence.

Quetta (AsiaNews) - Civil society associations, political leaders and the Christian community gathered yesterday to demand justice for Qamar Masih Bhatti.

Last week, Qamar Bhatti, a street sweeper, was attacked by a group of loan sharks against whom a complaint has been filed. Of the group, three are Christians.

According to several witnesses, Qamar Bhatti had borrowed 250,000 rupees (about 1572 US dollars), which he had not yet been able to repay. Because of this he suffered humiliation and torture. His usurers even made a video in which they strip the poor street sweeper, who wears a rosary around his neck, and torture him.

Qamar Bhatti says that they made a video because - as one of them, Qasim Jattak said - they wanted to set an example and frighten all Christians. He remembers that they stripped and beat him many times. And he continues: “When they were tired of beating me, they made me wear the rosary around my neck and threatened me saying that what followed would be the greatest punishment and no one, not even that cross could save me. After that, they stuck some pepper in my anus”.

Among those who have expressed their solidarity with the Christian community is the politician Qasim Khan Suri, vice-president of the National Assembly. Last night, speaking to the demonstrators, he first of all recalled the importance of the Christian contribution for the Quetta society. Christians, he said, "have made sacrifices for its development, especially in the educational field and towards young people, in hospitals, and in other fields".

“I bowed my head in shame - he continued - when I saw the video of Qamar Bhatti. This is not the tradition of the people of Quetta. I immediately asked the authorities to take serious action against the perpetrators ... Our government in Pakistan Tehreek - e- Insaaf [Prime Minister Imran Khan's party] believes in humanity and does not allow any discrimination. We are all equal citizens of Pakistan and we must ensure justice for Qamar Bhatti”.

Sen. Sarfraz Bugti of the Awami Party of Baluchistan condemned the incident. “All this - he said - contradicts the tradition of the Baloch Pashtun tribes living in Baluchistan. We cannot deny that Christians are an integral part of Baluchistan”. He promised to ask the interior minister, Mir Zia Lango, to intervene directly. "This intolerant way of doing things - he added - is not worthy either of Islam or of our society. The authors of these hateful acts must be brought to justice”.

Nazir Masih, of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, said the authorities have failed because they do not guarantee justice for the victim, and do not guarantee equal rights for the citizens of Pakistan. "Islam - he continued - is close to every oppressed person, but what these mafia usurers have done to Qamar Bhatti is a humiliation of humanity that no religion can allow, not even Islam".