Jawad Mazhar, Worthy News Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan
FAISALABAD, PAKISTAN (Worthy News)-- An impoverished father was no longer expecting justice Thursday, April 2, over a month after his Christian son was killed in Pakistan's troubled Pubjab province for "refusing to convert to Islam", the latest in a series of anti-Christian incidents in the region.
Chaain Gill told Worthy News and its partner news agency BosNewsLife that he had forgiven Muslim militants who "slaughtered" his son Mushtaq Gill in February, on the outskirts of Faisalabad, a major manufacturing town.
He said the murder came shortly after his son and a Muslim were released on bail from a local prison, where they were held for six months on charges of "keeping illegal firearms."
While in jail, Mushtaq Gill made clear he was a Christian and refused to convert to Islam, despite pressure from fellow inmate Abu Saeed, an activist of banned Islamic militant group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, and other prisoners, his father added.
"Abu Saeed and several other Islamic fanatic inmates tried to intimate my son and started to preach from the Koran and about proverbs and deeds of Prophet Muhammad," Chaain Gill said, his voice trembling.
"They used to tell him that if he converts to Islam he would be given eternal life in the paradise and there would be 70 virgins to serve him day and night."
Following his February 10 release, Masthtag Gill was allegedly forced to recite Islamic verses. "It is believed that someone who recites them becomes a Muslim. Therefore Abu Saeed started to visit us every evening...," his father said.
Yet on the eve before the killing, Chaain Gill said he found his son "ardently
praying to Jesus Christ in his room."
The next day, "Abu Saeed came early in the morning and took Mushtaq Gill with him in a jeep with 12 armed men." He briefly paused. "My son, Mushtaq Gill left that morning, and never returned.”
Other family members told Worthy News they began searching for him in the night. His lifeless body was only found the next day along railway tracks by children who were playing there. "They thought Mushtaq Gill was sleeping there, under a tree," Chaain Gill recalled.
He said his family decided not to ask police to register a case against Abu Saeed or other militants. Police officials were not available for comment and it was not clear whether prosecutors would still launch a case.
However, Gill said "I know that justice would not be served to us." Instead,
"we’ll have to face dire consequences, because our Christian legislators and
ministers do not like to [help] poor Christian men and women."
But, he said, he no longer expected prosecution of those involved in the killings. "I have forgiven the killers of my son in the name of Jesus Christ."
Other family members, including Mushtaq Gill's mother and sister, said they
are proud that "he sacrificed his life for Jesus Christ."
"Islamic fanatics killed his body, but he continues to live forever,"
with Christ, Chaain Gill said.
News of the killing came just days after several churches in Pakistan held
special prayer services for the stability of the country on March 23, amid
concerns over rising Islamic extremism and attempts to impose Islamic laws in Pakistan's Swat Valley area and other regions.
Christian Political Party ‘All Pakistan Minorities Alliance’ (APMA)
said at a large public gathering to mark the annual "Pakistan Day" at
the town of Faisalabad last week that the government should improve protection of Christians and other minorities.
Besides violence, Christians have also complained of discrimination in
the workplace. Impoverished Christian sanitary workers have held strikes this months in Punjab's Gujranwala District after local authorities refused to pay salaries.
One of the Christian workers committed suicide, apparently amid fears he
would no longer be able to care for his family, police said.