By Jawad Mazhar, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan
MURREE, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– Protestant Christians in the Pakistani hill town of Murree were without a major Christian education institution for girls Tuesday, November 10, after it was apparently torched by anti-Christian activists with authorities allegedly refusing to intervene.
Bishop Alexander John Malik told BosNewsLife that the ‘St. Danny’s Boarding & Girls’ High School’ of the Church of Pakistan, was “set ablaze under mysterious circumstances and reduced to ashes” November 3. No injuries were reported.
Malik spoke on behalf of the Church of Pakistan, a Protestant domination that is part of the Anglican Communion and a member church of the World Methodist Council.
He condemned local fire fighters and other authorities for “failing” to extinguish the fire in time. “Their equipments and fire extinguishing engines failed and therefore rescuers and fire fighters from the capital Islamabad and Rawalpindi were called-in, to help the Murree Fire Brigade Department,” he said.
Farrukh Sharron Bhatti, a Christian youth who participated in rescue operations, told BosNewsLife that security forces and other law enforcement agencies had cordoned off the area. A police official allegedly grabbed his arm and told the youngster to “shut up” after he asked whether the fire was an accident or could be blamed on terrorists.
Police had no comment about the reported incident.
In a statement, Pakistan’s Christian Federal Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, condemned what he called the “sad episode of uncontrolled burning of the Christian school” and added that “no fire fighters reached there timely to save the property of the Christians.”
Instead, he said, authorities and some media even “mocked, persecuted and discriminated the vulnerable and hapless Christians in St’ Danny’s School.”
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the apparent attack, but there has been international concern over increased Islamic extremism in Pakistan, a predominantly Muslim nation.