By BosNewsLife Asia Service
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– A Pakistani Christian rights lawyer who faces death threats from Islamic militants says local police refuse to protect him but that he will ask a court to force them to provide security and investigate the case.
Sardar Mushtag Gill, 32, was also considering Friday, June 28, to leave his home in Punjab province with his 26-year-old wife after he and a friend were “forcibly stopped at gunpoint by three armed men” last Sunday, June 23.
“This is ofcourse difficult to prepare. We need safe transport,” he told BosNewsLife speaking from his home.
He said Islamic militants are apparently furious that he met Christian women who were beaten and forced to parade naked in Sereser Chak No. 21 village by activists of the governing party Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).
Sisters Arshad Bibi, Sajida Bibi and Sauriya Bibi, were reportedly abused by armed men and an influential PML-N backed landlord on June 3 because goats owned by the women allegedly entered the landlord’s fields and damaged crops.
The militants also objected to Gill’s involvement in defending victims of recent attacks on a Christian neighborhood in Lahore city and a Christian girl, Fouzia Bibi, who was allegedly raped in January by two armed Muslim men in Punjab province, he said. “After we were stopped at Bypass Multan road [the militants] threatened to kill us while shooting in the air,” Gill recalled.
Gill said he would ask the regional Pattoki court on Monday, July 1, to force police in his area to protect him and his young wife and to prepare a so-called ‘First Information Report’, needed to launch a criminal investigation.
Local police have reportedly said they were unable to start the investigation as “the suspects are unknown.”
Yet, the lawyer questioned the intentions of police amid concerns they are influenced by, or working with, Islamic militants and other influential Muslims in the area.
“They claim they cannot provide security or launch an investigation though they should do something because this is very dangerous for me and my wife,” Gill added.
Despite the death threats, he told BosNewsLife this week that his Evangelical Association Development (LEAD) group would continue to defend the ,often impoverished and discriminated, minority Christians in this heavily Islamic nation.
“We are not cowards. We will not stop to carry out what we were assigned to do by Jesus, to fulfill His mission in Pakistan,” said the married young man, who is LEAD’s national director.
Islamists have also been upset by other recent legal victories for Christians. In one of the latest cases a Pakistan court acquitted a pastor accused of insulting Islam after his accuser told the court he was mistaken, trial observers said Thursday, June 27.
Karma Patras, 56, already had reportedly been released on bail from Sheikhupura District Jail in February after the man who filed the complaint, Syed Zulqarnain Shah, told court his accusation had been lodged mistakenly.
The June 14 formal removal of charges against Patras, who spent about four months in jail before his February release, comes as Aasiya Noreen, widely known as Asia Bibi, marks her fourth year since she was accused of blasphemy, noted the World Watch Monitor news service of advocacy group Open Doors.
It also represents at least the fourth time this year that Pakistani courts have turned aside attempts to prosecute Christians under the blasphemy laws that Gill said have been unfairly used to target minorities.
The first was in January, when Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that the blasphemy charge against Rimsha Masih, a teen-aged mentally challenged girl, had been “fabricated”. (With additional reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).
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