Persecution of Pakistani Christians in 2013: A Year of Fear and Resilience
In the annals of Pakistani Christian history, the year 2013 emerges as one of the most harrowing chapters. A constant shadow of persecution loomed over them, exacerbated by widespread economic and religious discrimination in a predominantly Sunni Muslim Pakistan.
A Grim Year for Religious Minorities:
Multiple international and local organizations unanimously declared 2013 as the darkest period for religious minorities in Pakistan.
Names like Sawan Masih, George Naz, Shafqat Emmanuel, Shagufta Kausar, Asif Pervaiz, Adnan Masih, and two Christian brothers from Wazirabad, Tariq Yousaf and Arif Yousaf, found themselves ensnared in the controversial blasphemy law’s web.
Extremist factions orchestrated the burning of dozens of churches and the destruction of hundreds of homes.
Churches Ablaze and Lives Lost:
In March, a Christian colony in Lahore was reduced to ashes. Come September, the shockwaves of two suicide bombings reverberated through a Peshawar church, claiming nearly 130 innocent lives. Blasphemy, a contentious subject in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where Muslims comprise 97 percent of the population, made life increasingly arduous for the Christian minority.
October’s Blasphemy Surge in Punjab:
October 2013 witnessed a distressing surge in blasphemy accusations against Punjab’s vulnerable Christian community.
The first target was Asif Pervaiz, followed by Adnan Masih, and later, the blasphemy net ensnared two Christian brothers from Wazirabad, Tariq Yousaf and Arif Yousaf. Tariq and Arif Yousaf faced false blasphemy charges in Thatha Faqir Ullah, a Christian Colony near Lahore, further intensifying their plight.
A Tale of Firecrackers and Conflict Resolution:
Tariq Yousaf, employed at a cutlery factory, supplemented his income by selling firecrackers. His brother, Arif Yousaf, worked in the Pakistan Railway.
On October 25, an incident involving firecrackers containing Quranic pages led to a dispute. While tensions flared momentarily, both Muslims and Christians intervened, and they resolved the matter through dialogue. Even the complainant and other Muslims forgave him.
An unexpected twist occurred when someone filed an FIR four days after the resolution, raising questions about the motive.
Local Christians alerted Farrukh Saif, and his team swiftly responded to the tense situation in Thatha Faqir Ullah, where Christians lived in fear. Mosques broadcasted announcements inciting violence against Christians, heightening tensions. Prompt legal action and the submission of a protection application for the Christian community averted a potential crisis.
Escaping Peril and Legal Battles:
Arif Yousaf, Tariq Yousaf’s brother, was arrested, but Tariq managed to escape to safety. Subsequent police operations targeted Tariq’s arrest, while anxiety gripped the Christian Colony. Local Muslims pressured the detention of Waris Masih (Tariq’s younger brother) and Uncle Younis Masih.Legal intervention led to the rescue of Waris Masih and Younis Masih, demonstrating the power of the law.
The Ongoing Struggle and Hope:
They spent seven months working very hard to keep Tariq Yousaf safe. But his older brother, Arif Yousaf, is still in jail, and he has lawyers led by Farrukh Saif and his team to help him.
Even though it’s very tough, we keep hoping and believing that the authorities will let Arif Yousaf out of jail. Tariq Yousaf’s dangerous escape from Pakistan without the right travel papers, while being wanted, shows how far we’ll go to protect innocent people.
We showed this dedication when we moved Ryan Stanton from Pakistan in 2013 and did the same for Martha Bibi.
We want to thank God for giving people the courage and determination to save lives like Tariq Yousaf’s. Now he lives in a safe place with his family and can start his life again.
Standing in Solidarity:
Extend the plea to stand in solidarity and defend the persecuted Christians of Pakistan, for compassion and support can make an enduring difference in their lives.