It is unfortunate that despite the current Covid 19 pandemic, that is posing its share of challenges in Pakistan, religious intolerance and discrimination sadly in the past few months is on the rise. This concern has been expressed by the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP).
Recently, Nadeem Joseph a Christian from TV colony Peshawar died as a result of gunshot wounds he received on June 4th 2020. He and his mother-in-law Elizabeth Masih were brutally attacked by a Muslim man Salman Khan and his sons a few days after Nadeem Joseph bought a house in TV Colony in Peshawar. He was sprayed with bullets just because he purchased a house in a Muslim dominated area and his neighbours did not approve of or tolerate the presence of a non-Muslim in their neighbourhood. They started harassing him from the day he shifted into the colony. Police have arrested several members of Salman Khan’s family in connection with the incident while he still remains at large.
NCJP strongly condemns this act of violence. In a joint statement, His Excellency Archbishop Dr. Joseph Arshad Chairperson, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf (Mani) National Director and Mr. Cecil S. Chaudhry Executive Director stated “Unfortunately Pakistani society has become increasing intolerant and living as a religious minority is becoming harder;. This is a reported case while there are many such incidents that do not get reported. Religious minorities continue to face discrimination as part of their daily life, whether in denial to receive food/relief packages during the ongoing pandemic or lack of personal protection for sanitary and frontline minority workers”. NCJP demanded the law enforcement agencies to do everything possible to capture the main culprit who brutally murdered Nadeem Joseph, and bring him to justice. “Everyone has the right to buy property in Pakistan. This incident is a clear violation of human rights; it is an act against the law and cannot go unpunished”.
His Excellency Archbishop Dr. Joseph Arshad, Bishop of Islamabad/Rawalpindi, President, Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, and Chairperson, National Commission for Justice and Peace prayed for the departed soul of Nadeem Joseph and for the comfort and safety of his family. He stated “Nadeem’s family is in pain and their lives are in danger after this attack they fear the attackers may also harm other family members, thus the government must ensure their safety and security. It should be noted with concern that similar episodes of attacks on the most vulnerable communities are on the rise: the current government must take them seriously and provide protection to all religious minorities”.
NCJP further raised its concern over the recent halting of the construction of a Hindu Temple in Islamabad. Rev Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf (Mani) National Director of NCJP stated “This move surely reflects the lack of acceptance for religious minorities that have been part of this country and region for centuries. It undermines the guarantees under Article 20 of the Constitution of Pakistan that allows the religious minorities the freedom to profess religion and manage religious institutions. The government must work to safeguard the rights of religion minorities in Pakistan as enshrined in our constitution.