Pakistan Church Leader Kidnapped; Christians Killed

Friday, December 14, 2007

By BosNewsLife News Center with Jawad Mazhar, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan

SARGODHA, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife) -- A search continued Thursday, December 13, for the General Secretary of the Churches of Pakistan, Dr. Rejinald Humayun, who was kidnapped last week following clashes in the country involving Islamic militants that killed at least three Christians.

In statements, the advocacy group All Pakistan Minority Alliance (APMA), the Diocese of Church of Pakistan and other Christian leaders urged Pakistan’s government "to expedite efforts for the safe recovery of Dr Rejinald."

The church official was kidnapped by unknown gunmen Friday, December 7, while on his way from the city of Bannu in the troubled North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) to Dera Ghazi Khan, a populous city in neighboring Punjab Province, several Christian sources said. More details were not immediately available.

It came as another setback for the missionary community as Dr. Humayun was the Medical Superintendent at Bannu Christian Hospital and the Missionary Hospital in the region. The kidnapping came as Christians in NWFP were still reeling from fighting between government troops and Islamic militants in the region.


Witnesses said at least three Christians were killed in "cross firing" between the Pakistani military and militants since last month in NWFP, where individual believers and churches have received death threats from extremists, BosNewsLife learned.

The Christians, who were only identified as Waheed, Gulzar and Raja, were returning from work as office and home cleaners in the Kabler area when they were shot November 16 on the road to Mingora, the largest city of Swat Valley, fellow Christians said.

The funerals of the three men, who had moved to the area from Punjab with their young families only the previous year, were reportedly held on November 18, but local Christians said no priest or pastor was able to attend the funerals because roads into the area were blocked.

No clergy currently reside in the valley to serve the tiny Christian community of approximately 70 families, according to news reports.


Hundreds of others in NWFP, mostly militants, are also believed to have died in the area in fighting in recent weeks. However independent reporting has become difficult because of emergency rule declared by President Pervez Musharraf, a move he says was necessary to tackle extremism and abuse of law by the judiciary

Several lawyers of the Sargodha Bar Council (SBC) backed by Christian and other rights activists have demanded an end to the State of Emergency and the suspension of the country’s constitution. They have also demanded an end of house arrests imposed on several judges and en end to cubs on media at a demonstration held this week in Sargodha, a main city in Punjab Province.

Advocate Shahid Nazir Khan told BosNewsLife that "many civil society organizations" participated in the rally, including advocacy group Rays of Development that has defended allegedly persecuted Christians and other minorities in the country.

A large number of policemen holding batons were surrounding the peaceful procession of the lawyers and civil society, a BosNewsLife reporter witnessed. The demonstration was held Monday, December 10, as part of International Human Rights Day events in Pakistan and around the world.

President Musharraf has promised to end emergency rule as early as December 15, after donning his general's uniform last month. However opponents remain skeptical about the prospects of fair parliamentary elections, scheduled for January 8, 2008.

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