Pakistani human rights body calls for “swift and impartial justice” following mob killing of Christian man

Christians in Pakistan have demanded Punjab officials bring to justice the perpetrators of the brutal attack on Nazir Gill Masih in Sargodha, which resulted in his death.

In a recent report sent to the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Catholic Church’s National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) echoed a statement issued by the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference condemning the murder and the “persistent misuse of blasphemy laws”.

The Archbishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Joseph Arshad, during a visit to the police headquarters to discuss the recent incident of violence against Christians
The Archbishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Joseph Arshad, during a visit to the police headquarters to discuss the recent incident of violence against Christians

The report stated: “swift and impartial justice must be served to restore faith in the legal system… and to hold police officials accountable for their inaction.” It demanded that “no false blasphemy charges be registered against any Christian and that protection be provided to them.”

The report outlines the thorough fact-finding carried out by the NCJP into the events leading up to the spurious blasphemy accusation and attack against Mr Masih, and states that his neighbours “allegedly had a grudge against Nazir’s family, who are relatively well-off, and his shoe business was doing quite well. There was also a level of jealousy towards this Christian family.”

The report sent to ACN detailed a series of peaceful protests organised by the NCJP and Archbishop Joseph Arshad across various governmental and religious sites in Islamabad and Gujuranwala, in which members of the Christian community expressed outrage at the attack and demanded justice for Mr Masih.

Christian leaders have asked Pakistani authorities to ensure equal rights and protection for all, including religious minorities
Christian leaders have asked Pakistani authorities to ensure equal rights and protection for all, including religious minorities

The NCJP, a long-term project partner of ACN, also provided a series of recommendations for the Pakistani authorities aimed at preventing similar incidents in future, improving law enforcement protocols, and fostering interfaith dialogue. Among these recommendations were a call for a judicial inquiry to establish accountability for the attack, the provision of prompt financial compensation, legal support and trauma counselling for Mr Maish’s family.

The report also calls for the implementation of security measures to provide protection for the Christian community and prevent false blasphemy charges being filed against them in future. The NCJP concluded their report by stating that the organisation “remains committed to ensuring justice and peace, urging both local and international communities to support their efforts in protecting vulnerable populations.”

Mr Masih died in hospital on 3 June after being beaten by a mob on 25 May. The Christian man, who was in his 70s, was being treated at the Combined Military Hospital in Rawalpindi, where he had undergone two surgical procedures, but succumbed to head injuries.

The work of the Catholic bishops’ National Commission for Justice and Peace in Pakistan has been closely supported by ACN for many years. This support includes the payment of fees for legal cases, the rehabilitation and reintegration of Christian victims of violence, and projects to support measures to protect at risk Christian girls.

 

By Daniel Beurthe.

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