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Three Pakistani Christians received highest civilian award

President General Pervez Mushrraf has announced civil award for 112 prominent personalities for their services in their respective fields to mark the 56 independence day of Pakistan. Among the 122 personalities three Pakistani Christians Maj (retd) G. D. Langlands (Education) Ms Tessie Flanigen (public service) and Ms.May Flanigen (public services) are recipient of highest civil award Sitara-I-Imtiaz.

The award will be be conferred on these personalities at an investiture ceremony to be held on March 23, 2004, the Pakistan day


We are greatly shocked at the killing of a Catholic priest in Renala Khurd and other terrible acts of terrorism in Pakistan. Coming – as it does – hard on the heels of many previous savage attacks on Christians, Shias, Ahmadis and other religious minorities, the All Pakistan Minority Alliance condemns these act of violence in the strongest possible terms. We send our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to all those who have lost their loved ones.

We wonder as to when the government will seriously act to put a stop brutal sectarian killing and bring to justice those who commit such crimes and those who encourage and abet these by teaching and spreading hatred and violence. This is not only devastating the lives of many citizens and their families but also seriously impeding all efforts to develop the country and move it into the 21st century. Violence s deterring expatriates Pakistanis, foreign investors and well wishers of Pakistan whose contribution is badly needed to reduce poverty and educate people. For without economic prosperity, civil responsibility and education, the extremists will continue to tempt young people towards their agenda of violence.

If the Government of Pakistan is sincerely interested in riding the country from the menace of religious and sectarian intolerance and terror, it should immediately take the following basic steps to demonstrate its will and determination:

To identify and prosecute all religious sectarian militants involved in advocating, preaching or committing violence.

To stop sending contradictory signals to the leaders of extremist groups with proven terrorist links by alternately hobnobbing and playing tough with them.

Abolition of the blasphemy law, for such laws provides raison d’etre for violence against religious minorities.

To use the bulk of the Zakat funds to expand public services and education for the poor and prevent these from going to the extremist religious organizations spreading hatred through their teaching and other activities.

Preaching hatred and inciting violence (religious or otherwise) through word of mouth, media, graffiti and other means should be made a crime under the law and those found guilty prosecuted.

School curricula and textbooks be reviewed and any sections teaching religious or sectarian intolerance or martyrdom should be taken out.

All citizens should be treated as equals irrespective of religious, caste, creed or ethnic background and be free to practice their beliefs so long as it does not lead to physical oppression and threat to others.

We demand that those responsible for the murder of Father George Ibrahim be immediately arrested and brought to justice, failing which we shall carry out a peaceful protest in Renala Khurd on the 18th of July, 2003.

We also appeal to the people of Pakistan to help us make our country a place of peace and tranquility for all and vigorously protect the rights of all citizens in all possible ways. Unless the government and its institutions and society as a whole strongly act together to curb such recurrent sectarian and religious violence, the social and economic development of the country will remain stagnant and it international standing will remain seriously damaged and dented.

His Grace, Dr. Lawrence J. Saldanha
Archbishop of Lahore.

Gp. Capt. (Retd) Cecil Chaudhry, SJ, Sbt
Executive Secretary
National Christian Action Forum

Shahbaz Bhatti
President, A.P.M.A.

Terrorists kill 6 in Christian school

ISLAMABAD: Six people were killed and four injured on Monday when three terrorists attacked a Christian missionary school near Murree.

Three masked assailants burst into the Christian School Gharial Camp in Jhika Gali on Murree-Bhurban Road, between 11:00 and 11:15am and opened indiscriminate fire while the school was in session. Six persons – including two security guards, a cook and a carpenter — were killed. Four people were wounded including the Filipino mother of a student, who was the only foreigner hurt. She was shifted to the Rawalpindi General Hospital (RGH). Three guards exchanged fire with the three intruders for 10-15 minutes before they escaped -- apparently unharmed -- through the backyard of the school into the thick forest. Around 150 missionary children aged six to 18 study at the schools, including about 30 Americans.

Barry Licklock, a school official, said the school was established 46 years ago and was being run by a non-governmental organisation (NGO). “Most of the children studying at the school are from the NGO workers’ families and some local Christian children. We are here to help promote education, healthcare, and social work activities to help society,” Mr Licklock said. Rawalpindi Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Israr Ahmed, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Syed Marwat Ali Shah and the Rawalpindi District Nazim Raja Tariq Kiyani rushed to Murree, some 55km east of the federal capital, on hearing about the attack.
courtesy: The Daily Times

PAKISTAN, 27 JUL 2002 (12:7)


An appeal was launched over the past days to stop the execution of a man sentenced to death for blasphemy in Lahore (Punjab) by Bishop Samuel Azariah of the Anglican Church of Pakistan. The Bishop, who personally knows the convicted man, declared that Anwar Kenneth is mentally unstable and must instead receive serious medical care. Kenneth was sentenced to death July 18 under the blasphemy law in vigour in Pakistan for claiming to be the reincarnation of Christ and having described Islam as a “false religion”. The man declared himself guilty and refused any legal assistance. The verdict still however has to be ratified, so human rights groups hope that his execution will be suspended at the last moment. The blasphemy law, introduced in 1986, punishes anyone that insults the Prophet Mohammed, consenting the imprisonment of suspected transgressors indicated by any citizen. A fact which unfortunately favours the utilisation of the law to settle personal disputes.
Courtesy MISNA

Five killed in Islamabad church attack

ISLAMABAD: Five persons were killed and more than 40 wounded, including the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka, in a grenade attack on a church during the Sunday morning service in the heavily protected area of the Diplomatic Enclave in the Federal Capital.

The Protestant International Church, where the attack occurred, is located between the American and Russian Embassies. The attack exposed the fragility of the security arrangements adopted by the Islamabad police to protect the highly sensitive area, which houses foreign embassies and residential apartments solely occupied by the foreigners.

A terrorist walked into the prayer hall of the Protestant International Church and started hurling grenades on worshipers attending the Sunday service. " I heard an explosion in the back and saw a man throwing a hand grenade on people praying in the church", a witness said. " The man was wearing a belt with hand-grenade in it," he said. " I lied down and heard five or six explosions."

Four out of five killed have been identified as Barbara Green, wife of an American diplomat, her daughter, Christina Green, 10, Anwar Ali Haidery, son of Ali Baba (an Afghan) and Repa Edward, a Pakistani. The fifth victim could not be identified. The police suspect that the unidentified person may be the terrorist. The wounded belonged to different countries including America, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Afghanistan, Iran, Ethiopia, Iraq and Sri Lanka.

It may be pointed out that just 48 hours before this attack two aliens were nabbed on Friday while in possession of two grenades and pistols near the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (USNHCR).

According to eyewitnesses a terrorist at about10:50 am entered the Church area, walked into the hall and started throwing grenades on worshipers. He did not confront any security personnel while entering the sensitive area. He hurled six grenades in the church within the span of five to ten seconds and walked out of the premises of the Church after competing the mission unhindered, the witnesses said.

The attacker, another eyewitness working at a Khokha hotel near the Church said, after causing the havoc disappeared into the jungle, apparently going towards the Community Centre Road (Kashmir Highway). Earlier reports had said that two terrorists attacked the church. Some eyewitnesses have also claimed that they saw two terrorists.

"The massacre resulted into a pool of blood in the church hall", a witness said. " Dead bodies and injured persons were found scattered all over the hall", the witness said. Most of the wounded persons had become unconscious, but some of them were trying to crawl out of the hall, he added.

Sacred books were uprooted from their shelves and sent flying to all corners of the church, chairs were smashed, blood stains could be seen on the roof, one golden chandelier out of five, was brought down on the floor due to the impact of the explosions. All the window spans were broken. Two clocks, which came down the ground and stopped working at 10.49 AM., showed the time of the attack. Every thing in the Church was ruined but two banners with the words " Joyful, Joyful, we adore thee" and " Come Holly Spirit", survived the explosions.
The explosions were so strong that a body struck the roof and its pieces were scattered all over the hall.The head and legs of that victim were taken to PIMs. This is the body which has remained unidentified.

People of the surrounding area rushed to the spot to help the victims, the eyewitnesses said. The wounded were rushed to different hospitals. State of emergency was declared in hospitals.

General Weera Sooriya, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka, while talking to this correspondent, said " it was shocking but I am alright now". He said that five other persons of his family including his mother, Freda, wife Dilhani, two daughters, Rushika and Rukshani and another Sri Lankan lady, Pearl, sustained injuries in the attack.

Responding to a question, Sooriya said he saw a man coming from the back side and started hurling grenades on worshipers, participating in the service. The attack came while the service was halfway, he said.The hall trembled as a result of blasts, and after that nothing could be heared except screams and cries, he said. He kept quiet to a question regarding the security measures at the Church.

According to the report compiled by the police, Barbara Green was an American diplomat and her daughter was studying in an American School. Repa Edwards, 35, was a regular employee of the embassy and living at 207, Kurri Road, Rawalpindi. Ali Baba, father of Anwer Ali Haidery, the fourth victim, told this correspondent that they belonged to Ghazni (Afghanistan) and presently living in G-10/2. He said that Anwar was teaching in ESL, Islamabad.

As many as 15 wounded persons are in serious condition and being kept in intensive care units of three hospitals. Whereas six injured were released after treatment.

The names of wounded persons, listed by the security agencies were detailed as General Weera Sooriya (High Commissioner of Sri Lanka), Mrs. Dilhani Weerasooriya ( wife of H.E.), Mrs. Freda ( Mother of H.E.), Miss. Rushika and Miss. Rukshani ( daughters of H.E.), Mrs. Pearl ( Sri Lankan), Ms. Taumara (USA), John (USA), Ms. Naseem (Pakistani), Miss. Neena (Ethiopian), Idrees (Afghani), Statuian ( Australian), Gobilla (Switzerland), Kid Michel ( UK), Graff John (UK), Jeffery (USA), Samuel (USA), Ghazala , Sarfaraz Masih, Rasheed and Rafaqat (Pakistani), Zia (Iraqi), Millon Green (USA), Ashir, Mustafa, Rasheed Akhtar, Mrs. Tabbasam, Zainab Tabbasam, Mohsin, and Ali Asghar (Pakistani), Dr. Crusty, Ms Elizabeth (German), Khursheed (Iranian), Jessy Kariani and Mehdi Kariani (Iranian), Chritopher (USA), Samuel (USA), Edwards Good (USA), Cintin (USA), Jeffery Weble (USA), Marry Robinson (USA), Helda (UK), Diane (USA), Mac Clelleng (USA), Zacn Green (USA), Jeffery Wheel (USA), Stephen (Australian), Garry (Canadian), Jannet and Emlinton (USA), Mustafa (Pakistani) and Mark Robinson (USA).

A press note issued here on Sunday as many as five people were killed and 40 injured when an unidentified culprit hurled grenades on the congregation at Protestant International Church. The press note issued by the District Magistrate Islamabad reads:

"At 1050 hours this morning, a person entered the Protestant International Church, situated at the Diplomatic Enclave, Islamabad and hurled six hand grenades on the congregation. Three hand grenades exploded, resulting into the death of five persons and causing injuries to 40 individuals.

Amongst those who were killed two were Pakistanis, two Americans and one Afghan. The injured included citizens of USA, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. On receiving information, the Islamabad Police immediately rushed to the spot and cordoned off the area. The injured were immediately shifted to the city hospitals - Federal Government Services Hospital (FGSH), Pakistan institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) and Shifa International Hospital. The individuals who sustained minor injuries were discharged from the hospitals after giving medical aid and the remaining have been admitted to these hospitals. The condition of six to seven persons is serious."

Agencies add: Japanese diplomat's Philippine-born wife was among 46 people injured, officials said. The 37-year-old wife of Hirofumi Murabayashi, first secretary of the Japanese embassy here, was slightly injured, the Japanese foreign ministry said in Tokyo.

Islamabad's Al-Shafa Hospital confirmed the woman was being treated for minor injuries sustained in the attack on the Protestant International Church, but did not know the patient's identity.

A US diplomat's wife and daughter, an Afghan man, two Pakistanis and at least one a woman, were killed in the attack, police said. The US embassy has said that two Americans were killed but has so far refused to confirm whether they were from a diplomat's family.

Also injured were eight Pakistanis, nine Americans, seven Iranians, two Australians, five British, one Canadian, three Sri Lankans, a German, an Ethopian, an Iraqi, a Swiss and an Afghan.

Some 60 to 70 worshippers were attending Sunday prayer services inside the Protestant International Church in Islamabad's usually quite diplomatic quarter when a man entered and threw grenades at the congregation, police said.

The government has constituted a high level Inquiry Committee to carry out investigation into the attack. "A high level committee would be constituted for detailed investigation of the incident," reported PTV Sunday. The Committee would not only conduct an inquiry but also point out possible negligence on part of any institution, the report said.

Suspect for Bahawalpur Church massacre killed in shooting with police

Lahore (Fides) – A militant of Lashkar-Jhangvi allegedly involved in dozens of murders with religious motivation, including the massacre last October in a church at Bahawalpur, was killed in a gun-battle with police. The news was given by the police on Monday March 11.

City police chief Nazim Shahid Durrani said that Shakeel Amwar, alias Ghulam Mustafa, who was wanted for some 150 acts of terrorism and 18 murders, was killed in shooting with the police in Bahawalpur late on Sunday. Inspector Durrani said Anwar was a "dangerous criminal" and a key member of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Police officials said Anwar was in a jeep which refused to stop when flagged down by police at a check-point. Police chased the vehicle and opened fire bursting the jeep’s tires. Anwar came out of the jeep and was fatally wounded in the exchange of fire.

Anwar, who carried a Rs 1.5 million (about 25,000 dollars) bounty on his head, was suspected by police of involvement in the October 28 attack on St Dominic’s Catholic Church, Multan diocese, in Bahawalpur, when 16 Protestant Christian guest worshippers were slain.

Catholics at St Dominic’s told Fides that the police inquiry into the massacre is not making much progress. However the church is now more heavily guarded by six police men night and day. After the death of Anwar some fear acts of revenge. In the meantime the local Protestant Christian community continues to hold weekly Sunday services, with visible presence of police, at St Dominic’s as guests of the parish priest and Dominican Sisters serving the community. The parish priest has also engaged extra security guards. (Fides 12/3/2002)


On 7th December 2001, His Holiness Pope John Paul II erected the new Apostolic Prefecture of Quetta, which coincides with the vast Province of Baluchistan. Rev Fr. Victor Gnanapragsam OMI, a Sri Lankan missionary since 1973, is appointed the first Apostolic Prefect. This is the first change in the ecclesiastical map since 1960. We offer Fr. Victor and all his community our sincere congratulations!

PAKISTAN, 31 OCT 2001 (12:50)


The massacre in the Church of Bahawalpur left us extremely dismayed and shocked, but the Muslim population has demonstrated great solidarity with the Christians, which has brought some relief to our sorrow. These were the words expressed to MISNA by Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore (Pakistan), in regard to the massacre of Christians carried out on Sunday by Islamic extremists in the Church of Bahawalpur (Punjab province). The Muslims participated in the sorrow of the Christians continued the prelate “ starting from the President General Pervez Musharraf, who promptly condemned the attack and promised aid to the families of the victims. The Governor of Punjab, Minister of Minorities and the Minister of Religious Affairs intervened on the scene of the massacre. On Monday all businesses of Bahawalpur remained closed in sign of mourning. Also in television debates, all representatives of Pakistani institutions, from the most conservative to the most progressivist, expressed solidarity with the victims of the brutal attack. The prelate believes that it was in all probability a sort of retaliation by Islamic extremists, connected to the US-UK attacks on Afghanistan. Underlining that 13 people have been arrested in connection with the massacre, though the names of the organisations that orchestrated the attack have not been uncovered, he believes the path investigators are following, that the terrorist were aiming to kill a US missionary Fr. James Nuttail, as plausible. The prelate however added that out of Punjab population of 80-million, the extremists represent a small minority of around 50-thousand and until now had never marked themselves with murder. The Archbishop confirmed that security measures were doubled in churches and that the Christian community is living in a state of insecurity, but concluded: The situation now appears to have calmed and we will continue our activities, in the hope that such a tragedy never reoccurs. (BO)

PAKISTAN, 31 OCT 2001 (10:11)


Police in Pakistan have arrested 13 Islamic militants in connection with the massacre carried out on Sunday in the Christian Church of Saint Dominic in Bahawalpur (Punjab province, Pakistan). The agents however declined to give details on those detained, but expressed certainty that the terrorist network will be defeated and that further arrests will follow. Among the extremist groups indicated by the international press as suspected culprits for the massacre are the Lakshar-i-Jangvi (active in Punjab particularly in the persecution of Shi Muslims), the Sipha-i-Sabha-i-Pakistan and the Jamaat Ulmena Islami. This last organisation is headed by the Maulana Fazl ur-Rehman, a Taliban leader and among the main promoters of anti-US demonstrations held over the past weeks. Local observers indicated that in Punjab the minority Christian and Shi Muslim groups are constantly persecuted by Sunni extremists. Out of Pakistan's population of 152-mllion, Muslims represent 95% (predominantly Sunni), Christians 2% and Hindus 1.6%. (BO)

Victims in Bahawalpur: "They Are Martyrs"
Interview with Bishop of Diocese Where Massacre Took Place
Lahore, Pakistan, OCT. 30, 2001 ( As soon as he learned about the massacre at the church of Bahawalpur, Bishop Andrew Francis of the Multan Diocese went immediately to the scene.

--Q: Can you describe to us what happened Sunday?

--Bishop Francis: My heart is broken; I feel very sad. The altar was perforated with bullet holes. There was blood everywhere. The killers fired at the faithful with a rain of bullets and the greater part of the bodies had six to eight bullet holes.

The Protestant pastor, who was officiating at the service, was also killed. This is, undoubtedly, an act of terrorism. Fifteen faithful were massacred inside the church; they were singing the final hymn when the terrorists opened fire. Before entering the church, they had already killed the guard who was in front of the door.

--Q: Do the Protestant faithful use the Catholic church regularly for their services?

--Bishop Francis: As the Protestant church in Pakistan does not have its own building in this area, I gave permission for the use of our church, as an act of good will among Christians. However, the fact that the victims were not Catholic does not change the matter at all -- the objective was persons of Christian faith.

--Q: What do you think of the victims?

--Bishop Francis: They are martyrs. They died witnessing to their own faith in the church during the service. It is a tragic event, but we are trying to give ourselves courage and to accept what happened with dignity.

--Q: Do you think that, as Christians, it is necessary to organize protests against the massacre?

--Bishop Francis: No. We will not try to exploit the martyrdom of these faithful to give publicity to the Church and Christianity. We buried them with dignity.

I am very keen on working for peace and reconciliation because we have to continue to live in a country in which almost 95% of the population is of the Muslim religion, more than 135 million.

My hope and my most ardent prayer are for a future of peace. I am the president of the Christian/Muslim Commission of the Council of Pakistan's Catholic Bishops, and I belong to the Pontifical Council for Dialogue.

We are in touch, 24 hours a day, with non-Christian clergy and leaders of other religions, for the purpose of creating a profound sense of tolerance, harmony and social unity.

--Q: Do you think the massacre is related to the bombing of Afghanistan?

--Bishop Francis: I have the impression -- and from what I have heard from other sources, I think we can speak of certainty -- that it is the action of a group that supports the Taliban.

--Q: Are you afraid that the continued bombing of Afghanistan might create further situations of risk for Christians?

--Bishop Francis: I do not want to engage in political considerations. In fact, when something happens in the world, we are the scapegoat.

It is always the Christian minority -- a religious minority -- that ends up suffering terribly. This is the lesson of history. These terrorists do not have a God, a religion or a conscience.

--Q: Do you think the attempts to work for peace have failed?

--Bishop Francis: Absolutely not, although the terrorists have the power to ruin it all. We will continue to journey on the path of peace and reconciliation. We forgive those who committed this act and pray for them, and will leave the doors of our church open to peace and reconciliation.

Date: 2001-10-28

Pope Condemns Killing of 16 at Pakistani Church

Not Known If Attack Is Related to War in Afghanistan

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 28, 2001 ( John Paul II condemned the attack by gunmen at a Catholic church in Bahawalpur, Pakistan, which left 16 dead today.

As soon as he heard the news, the Holy Father sent a telegram to Archbishop Alessandro D´Errico, apostolic nuncio in Pakistan, to express his "absolute condemnation of this further tragic act of intolerance."

In the message sent by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, the Pope expresses his "heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims whom he commends to the Lord. He expresses his prayerful closeness to all affected by this evil act and, as a pledge of comfort and strength, he invokes upon the entire community the blessings of Almighty God."

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf condemned this "terrorist attack," which said aims "to create division in Pakistan, where Christians and Muslims always lived in peace and mutual respect."

"I am profoundly saddened and my sympathy goes to the victims and their families," he said in a statement. He said the perpetrators will be "pursued and brought to justice."

Six assailants arrived at the church on motorcycles and fired at the congregation with AK47 assault rifles, the police reported.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Arif Ikram, chief of police of Bahawalpur, said, "One of the hypotheses is that it is in reprisal for the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan, but it could also be simply a terrorist act."

The church, located in the residential neighborhood of Gulzar e Sadiq, is Catholic, though it is also used by Protestants.

Many of the victims were Protestants. Recently there was a change in the schedule of services, and it was the Protestants´ turn to use the building, explained Mother Anna Bajshi, the superior of a convent in Bahawalpur.

Among the victims was the Protestant pastor and a policeman stationed outside the church who, according to eyewitnesses, was asleep. Some 150 faithful were about to leave the church when the first shots were fired, a Church spokesman in Punjab, Azhar Rashid, explained.

According to Rashid, the assailants all wore beards, which leads to the belief that they belonged to a radical extremist group.

Despite President Musharraf's comments about interreligious relations, tension between the population and the small Christian community of Bahawalpur is not new. In 1988, an American nun was killed in the garden of her house.

Local Christians have felt especially vulnerable since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. Recently, they asked the authorities for police protection for their church.

In response, a policeman was posted outside the church during religious services -- a measure the faithful regarded as insufficient.

Christians account for 2% of Pakistan's 140 million people.

Sept 11, 2001.

The Holy See The Official Holy See (Vatican) website

Catholic Encyclopedia Lots of information on the world-wide Catholic Church.

Catholic Online Offers daily news, online broadcasting, a marketplace and a database of Catholic resources. Includes a special section on saints and angels

Catholic Information Network Offering information about various aspects of the Catholic Church

Order of Franciscan Minor Capuchins The Generalate Page of the Capuchins providing every information on their actvities world wide.

Order of Franciscan Minors The Generalte of the Vice Province of St. John Baptist, Pakistan chapter of OFM.

ArchDiocese of New York The most important Archdiocese in northern America.

MSSP Missionary Society of St. Paul. Offers information about the Order around the world including its presence in Pakistan,(Karachi, Faisalabad and Lahore).

Zenit News Agency An excellent Catholic News Information Site.

MISNA News Agency Another excellent News resource on the whole Church.

Pakistan Christian Voice Based in Rawalpindi, this paper has some very interesting articles.