Saturday, August 19, 2023

Pakistan's Communist Party condemns the recent attacks on the Christian Community and Churches

The Communist Party of Pakistan and Comrade Imdad Qazi, the Secretary General of the Communist Party of Pakistan and Convenor of the Popular Left Alliance (Left Parties Alliance), have strongly condemned the attacks on churches, homes, and properties of the Christian community in Jaranwala, District Faisalabad, Punjab following rumours of Quran desecration. 

The Christian community makes up around 2% of the total population and occupies one of the lowest rungs in Pakistani society. They are frequently targeted with spurious blasphemy allegations. In the current incident, at least four churches were burnt down and ransacked, along with shops and homes belonging to Christians. 

Due to threats publicly announced through nearby Muslim mosques, children, women, and elderly Christian community members had to vacate their homes, leaving everything behind to flee to safe places and save their lives. Consequently, they spent the entire night helplessly in open fields and at their community's house on the area's outskirts. They are still fearing for their lives and are unable to return.

Given the presence of blasphemous laws in Pakistan, the culprits should be tried according to the law if any incident occurs. Blasphemy allegations are particularly incendiary in deeply conservative, Muslim-majority Pakistan, where even unproven allegations of insulting Islam and its Prophet Mohammed can lead to death at the hands of vigilantes. This has the full support of Islamist right-wing leaders and political parties across Pakistan, who frequently rally around this issue.

We believe that the frequency and scale of attacks against non-Muslim communities in Pakistan, including the Ahmadi community, are always systematic, violent, and uncontrollable. The government and law enforcement agencies often remain silent observers and only take action when considerable damage has been done. The state has completely failed to protect religious minorities in Pakistan. This failure is a direct consequence of a policy that has patronised far-right elements within society and politics in the past, allowing them to become deeply entrenched. What happened in Jaranwala with the Christian community is mirrored in the treatment of the Hindu community in Sindh, the Shia Hazara community in Balochistan, the Shia and Ismaili communities in Gilgit-Baltistan, the Sikh community in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Ahmadi community across Pakistan.

The seeds of hatred were sown during the religious partition of the Subcontinent and were further nurtured during military dictatorships, often with the collaboration of US imperialism. Pakistan is reaping the bitter harvest of that hatred, which has been deeply ingrained within society through repeated violence and bloodshed against non-Muslim communities, particularly the Shia community and Ahmadis.

Pakistan has now become a home and breeding ground for religious-based contradictions that extend beyond different faiths and even exist within the same Islamic faith. These contradictions have not only inflicted substantial damage on Pakistani society but have also been exported regionally. Incidents are orchestrated to create conflicts between Muslims and Christians, Hindus and Muslims, and intensify Shia-Sunni divisions. Killings occur based on denominational differences, Ahmadis are targeted, and divisions between Barelvi and Deobandi (Sunni faith sections) are exacerbated. Jihadist organisations are armed for widespread violence, often with confusing concepts of "good" and "bad" Taliban narratives. As long as these experiments continue under state patronage, establishing peace throughout Pakistan and improving governance will remain elusive. As long as politics remains rooted in religious divisions, sectarian beliefs, linguistic and ethnic divides, and hatred, and until the Pakistani constitution, laws, and educational system are based on secular, modern scientific foundations that ensure equal rights and status for all citizens without discrimination, this dreadful and hateful human crisis will persist. Without fully recognising the national rights of Pakistan's federating units, including complete autonomy and the right to self-governance, steering Pakistan in the right direction will remain an unattainable goal.

The Communist Party of Pakistan stands in solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters and other non-Muslim religious communities in Pakistan. We demand that the government and all responsible state institutions, including the highest judicial establishment, provide full protection to all citizens without discrimination or delay. Prioritising solutions for inflation, unemployment, lawlessness, economic distress, and social issues is crucial. Until the youth, students, employees, workers, farmers, labourers, women, intellectuals, journalists, lawyers, and common citizens of the entire country unite to address their everyday issues and make decisive efforts, these heart-wrenching and regrettable incidents will continue to occur, exacerbating the majority of people's issues. Therefore, aside from joint efforts on everyday issues, there is no other way forward.