Christians in Pakistan stepped up their nationwide campaign against religious intolerance in the country, as the government has failed to bring justice to last months burning of churches.
On Sunday, a coalition of leading Christian organizations and civil societies in Pakistan met in Lahore for an emergency consultation to review the situation regarding religious intolerance in the country, according to a statement released by the Pakistan-based Commission for Peace and Human Development
The participating organizations included the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP); the Commission for Peace and Human Development (CPHD); the Center of Legal Assistance and Settlement (CLASS); the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance; the Christian Study Centre- Rawalpindi; the Justice and Peace Commission (MSLCP)- Multan, Adal; and AWARD-Faisalabad and Human Development Centre- Toba Tek Singh.
Religious tolerance has become a key concern for Pakistani Christians after the terrifying burning of Christian settlements by some hundreds of Muslims in eastern Pakistans Sangla Hill village on Nov. 12.
Over the past few weeks, Pakistani Christians and churches have been lobbying the government to deeply investigate the incident and to identify those responsible for the violence. On Nov. 17, all churches and Christian educational institutions in Pakistan were closed in protest against the attacks. They requested a detailed investigation on the attacks and vowed to take further actions if no response was made.
Until now, the Pakistan authorities have not made significant progress, leaving the tension between Christians and Muslims in deadlock.
Church leaders and representatives of civil society said in the statement from the consultation that the present government is terribly failing to repair the situation firstly because it is not admitting the facts and is rather protecting the instigators of mob violence."
In the course of police investigation, Muslim groups accused a Christian named Yusaf Masih of blasphemy for desecrating the Koran, which they claimed had triggered the anger of Muslims.
In an open letter to the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, four leading Pakistani church leaders called the accusation a "baseless rumor." They argued the fact was that two Muslims who lost money to Masih have been trying to make use of the blasphemy law to settle their personal conflicts.
Despite repeated clarification of Christian leaders, the government has avoided to make any statement regarding the progress of investigation.
The statement from the consultation said that the Judicial Enquiry was "ineffective" due to "procedural delays," causing the loss of vital evidence to the offences.
The organizations also accused the government of "hiding facts from the people of Pakistan" by "concealing the extent of the abuse of blasphemy laws," according to the statement.
The participating organizations of the consultation issued a "Joint Resolution and Plan of Action" with an aim to step up their campaign against religious intolerance in Pakistan
According to the statement, the organizations demand the Pakistan government to take immediate actions to apprehend the instigators of the mob violence, to make public the findings of the Judicial Enquiry, to set free all innocent persons including Yousuf Masih, to repeal blasphemy law, and to remove hate speech and biased literature.
Meanwhile, AsiaNews reported that the leading Christian organizations in Pakistan would hold a joint press conference on Thursday in Islamabad, to highlight incidents sparked by religious hatred and to study their causes.