Monday, May 04, 2009

Call for Peace and Prayer in Pakistan

Karachi Christians "locking themselves in homes"

Christian families in Karachi, Pakistan are locking themselves in their own homes following escalating violence against them in recent weeks, Catholic Mission Pakistan director, Fr Mario Rodrigues has said.

Last week, six families' homes were burned to the ground, along with shops, and a number of churches in the locale of Taiser Town, Karachi, Catholic Mission Australia reports.

Describing the violence, Fr Rodrigues said the perpetrators had "misbehaved with the women and asked them to accept Islam otherwise they will kill them."

"They burnt the Holy Bibles and the worst, they have killed people (when) a group of 35 to 40 men armed with AK47, TT pistols, repeaters, and rifles and fired indiscriminately at the Christian community," Fr Rodrigues said.

Prior to the violence, vandals had left messages on the Church walls which included - "Long Live the Taliban" and "Long Live Al Qaeda".

Women were beaten on the streets and dragged by their hair, and many people were injured, Fr Rodrigues reported.

An 11 year old boy was killed, after being shot in the head. He died days later in hospital.

Police reportedly recovered an arms cache of semi-automatic pistols and a Kalashnikov assault rifle.

Martin Teulan, National Director of Catholic Mission Australia said he was surprised by the lack of coverage and shocked by the turmoil of not only properties destroyed, but lives lost.

"This is shocking news, and our prayers are with Fr Rodrigues and all the people affected by this senseless violence," Mr Teulan said.

"We must be mindful of this as a sad reality for many people around the world, living with daily threats, not only to their livelihood, but to their lives. We call for Australians to gather in prayer for our friends in Pakistan, and particularly for those who have lost loved ones."

The Pakistani Government advised the National Assembly earlier this month that 1,400 people have been killed in terrorist attacks in the last 15 months in this area.

Fr Rodrigues pleads with us: "So this is a request to stay in prayer at your own homes. I believe that God will listen and he will not bring us to the test."

Martin Teulan is calling for all Australians to be prayerful for the people of Pakistan. This follows reports from Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, Director of the National Justice and Peace Commission of the Pakistani Bishop's Conference who also visited the areas affected by the violence.

Fr Emmanuel encouraged the community not to lose hope and to continue in constant prayer, without responding to the violence with violence.

The people, he says "are mainly poor families, the working class and farmers who lead a simple and tranquil life."