Our vision is to create a network of Pakistanis united in Christ, focused on better quality of life, fellowship and religious freedom for Christians in Pakistan and the UK.
BPCA officer Naveed Masih met with the church leadership to discuss how the BPCA can help.
Parishioners of Victory Church in Kasur were horrified to see a young Muslim man burning their church bibles, when they arrived at their church to pray during the day of Epiphany on Wednesday 6th January.
Akba Azhar a 26 year old Muslim apparently had broken into their church and burnt their bibles and other Christian books including worship and Bible study material. Realising he had been discovered Mr Azhar tried to flee but was caught by young Christian men who brought him back to the church and held him there until local policemen arrived, in response to their calls for assistance.
On arrival the police took the man into custody, but later refused to file a First Incident Report (Police report) against the perpetrator, stating that Mr Azhar was deemed to be mentally unstable, therefore unfit for prosecution. However, parishioners at the church have advised local police that they believe the man is both lucid and mentally stable and had been playing cricket with some of the Christian men the night before the burglary and arson attack. They have demanded that Mr Azhar should be tried under the notorious blasphemy laws of Pakistan as the man has desecrated Christian scriptures, in the same fashion as the laws have been used against Christians.
Burn marks at the location in the church where the books were burnt.
Izhaq Masih a local Christian resident said:
"The reticence of the local police constabulary to prosecute Mr Azhar illustrates their bias. Several mentally ill Christians have been arrested for blasphemy including 11 year old Rimsha Masih in 2012, who was visibly a minor with a severe mental condition (click here). Local police in Kasur have informed the church that due to Azhbar's mental condition he can not be held liable for his actions. This is very unfair". (click here) .
Kasur is a city of nearly 250,000 people and approximately 60 km from Lahore, in Pakistan's Punjab province. In November 2014, the area was the scene of a brutal attack on a young Christian couple, parents of four children, who were burnt alive by a Muslim mob, incited by an imam after allegations of blasphemy were made against the victims. Only hours after this incident, another church in Kasur was set on fire (click here)
Despite protections within the Constitution and legal frameworks of Pakistan, Christians rarely receive justice. Article 36 of the Pakistani Constitution states:
36. Protection of minorities.-The State shall safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities, including their due representation in the Federal and Provincial services.
Naveed Masih, local officer for the BPCA, said:
"This attack has frightened local people. They are worried that they may now be subjected to further attacks, especially if they pursue the culprit. Even then for the sake of justice and empowerment of their next generation the church has hired the services of a Muslim solicitor, who will assert the need to prosecute the perpetrator of an obvious arson attack. Please pray for success as this will remove the belief that such attacks are immune from the law."
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said:
"This latest attack and the ease within which the felon, Mr Azhar, was allowed to escape justice, underlines the low worth of Christians in Pakistan. Pakistan has a well documented, extremely poor human rights record especially towards minorities living there, yet still receives massive foreign aid from America and Britain. The ongoing pariah status of minorities in Pakistan is a concern big enough to warrant cessation of all US and UK funding. Their choice to continue is dangerous considering that festering hatred towards the West in Pakistan has led to the export of terrorism."
The BPCA has initiated a fund to help restore the lost church material and would like to raise £500 required to replace the lost Bibles, other books and help towards the cost of the solicitor.
To make this possible we need your help. If you would like to contribute to this work, please give what you can afford, no matter how small, and join with us in making a difference in the lives of Pakistani Christians.
Your gift can be sent using these bank details:
Sort Code: 20-44-22
Account number: 43163318
Ref: Kasur Blaze (Victory)
For international donations please use these details:
IBAN: GB62 BARC 20442243163318
Alternatively you can give via PayPal, our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cheques should be made payable to the BPCA to our address: 57 Green Lane, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1XG.
BRITISH PAKISTANI CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION is a trading name for BRITISH PAKISTANI CHRISTIANS LTD which is a charity entered onto the Register of Charities with the Registered Charity Number 1163363
With your support we hope to change the lives of millions of Pakistani Christians.
Naveed Masih met the leadership team at the church.
Naveed heard from parishioners how frightened they are of further attacks.
Victory church was still adorned in Christmas decorations.
A Christmas star was placed atop the church that had been celebrating his birth.
Parishioners held aloft our banner.
The front facade of the church.