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The trials of a young Pakistani Christian woman trying to make a change for persecuted sisters!

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Mehwish Bhatti a full time English Literature student from Islamabad was so moved by the situation faced by many innocent young Pakistani girls and women that she incessantly demanded an opportunity to volunteer for the BPCA.  Here age of 26 would in the UK define a woman of significant personal growth and development, but in anachronistic Pakistan where the lives of women are more sheltered, she has had to overcome huge obstacles both emotionally, physically and culturally to even contemplate such a pursuit.

BPCA has tried to suppress the desire offering her the opportunity to write rather then actively engage with victims, which can be both dangerous and emotionally draining, until our Chairman one day simply decided to converse with her other her ambitions.  Moved by her spirituality and her ability to provide good counsel it was decided to pray and seek God's wisdom on whether to recruit her as a part-time volunteer.  the resounding response was a firm conviction that Mehwish was being called into the ministry.

Our group agreed to use Mehwish specifically on cases where women are involved, as this was her particular desire. Mehwish suggested working on the case of Asia Bibi and the two girls gang raped near Faisalabad, Sherish and Farzana, we added former expectant mother Elishba Bibi who miscarried after an attack with poles by two brothers, in Sheikhupura.

Mehwish successfully completed her first task which was to meet with Ashiq Masih husband of Asia Bibi, to enquire on the progress of her Supreme Court hearing and the state of her health.  The request was made to the BPCA by BBC Asia Network and we organised the telephone interview after seeking permission from the solicitor of Asia Bibi.  Mehwish, bravely travelled to the secret location with her mother and was told her mother who accompanied her was not allowed to enter the room with her, as Ashiq Masih was concerned about multiple visitors, so two male pastors escorted this brave individual into a room with Ashiq which must have been intimidating.  I know the mother was praying constantly from outside as her daughter had never been taken away from her by men before. Mehwish was not allowed to take pictures and conducted the interview by calling the BBC in the UK.  She acted as translator, knowing full well, that her voice would be edited and replaced by a male voice, as Ashiq is male - this might make sense to some but escapes us. The BPCA also knew beforehand that no mention of our facilitation would be mentioned.  Moreover, we also would only be paid £30 towards travel costs, which would not cover the expenditure of the mother and daughter.  Even then we committed to this activity as spreading awareness of the plight of Pakistani Christians is a fundamental aspect of our advocacy work, and we believe that listeners of BBC Asia Network make likely supporters of change in Pakistan.  After the interview Wilson Chowdhry was shocked at the manner in which Mehwish had been separated from her mother, he said;

"I have been operating a security company for in excess of 20 years, I cannot envision any reason for separating mother from daughter in this way, it simply does not make sense? I am glad that Mehwish faced her fears and conducted the interview as it helps the campaign for reform in Pakistan, but the security protocol is seriously flawed and presents great anxiety to women." 

Mehwish and her mother returned home around 11pm and rose early at 5am to meet with a purported Christian charity Sharing Life Ministry, who seem to have strong support from Release International a global persecution group.  They were to introduce our young sister to Sherish and Farzana so that we could start building works on a communal toilet facility for their village, in response to the need for better security for girls and women in the community, after the two sisters were gang raped at gunpoint.  

Shalim Samson and Sohail Johnson the two lead figures in this group, delayed and hampered progress with the works, Mehwish felt this was due to her gender.  Wilson Chowdhry our Chairman than called directly from the UK (24.12.2014) and spoke with Shalim Samson for an extended period of time, wasting unnecessary time and money because they kept refusing Mehwish.  They quickly promised our Chairman the world and fixed a date and time 27th December 2014 at 12pm.   Mehwish being an extremely meticulous and capable individual called back on both  25th and 26th December confirming details.  So you can imagine the shock that despite the fact that Mehwish and her mother arrived at 11am, one hour before time, that Mr Samson failed to turn up or answer his phone.  In fact his phone rang to a song with the words 'booty call, a service he would have had to pay for.  This was not a ring tone but an extra functionality on Pakistan that allows owners to pre-fix a song that would be heard by those ringing their phone, rather then traditional beeping.  Not particularly appropriate for an officer meant to be protecting vulnerable women, and perhaps acceptable to many of you,  However the BPCA would not condone a ringer of this nature.

Wilson Chowdhry called from England and heard the offensive ring tone and left scores of messages on viber, text and voice mail, at great expense but to no avail.  Of course Mehwish and her mother had left a further plethora of messages all with out expletives we assure you despite the upset and fear for the safety of the two volunteers we all held.  BPCA also left a message with Release International's head office hoping for assistance, but voice mail facility left little doubt that a response would not be forthcoming in the short term.   

Wilson has apologised profusely for the treatment of the mother and daughter and made sure they were safe along the journey and on their return at around 11pm.  the fact that they live 5 hours away from Lahore meant the journey was long and arduous.  But they have not lost any resolve to see God's work to fruition.  Please pray for our wonderful brave sisters and be wary of the groups purporting to be working for the benefit of our Christian minorities in Pakistan.  We will update you on this story.





gender discrimination Mehwish Bhatti
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