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Archive for March, 2011

It was my privilege to contribute to Trevor Persaud’s article in Christianity Today “Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Most Prominent Christian, Assassinated.” Just as the Governor of the Punjab was killed two months ago, Bhatti was slain on account of the infamous Blasphemy Law. The slaying of this brave man comes as no surprise as he had been threatened more than once but never granted the necessary security. Now many mourn the senseless killing of a national hero and an elderly woman grieves over the death of her son. This barbarous act was carried out by the Taliban and al-Qaeda because someone else, this time a courageous Christian, dared to suggest that the law should be amended. Like most Pakistanis, Bhatti believed that Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of the nation, had envisioned a secular state. His speech on August 11, 1947 makes it clear he had no thought of a theocracy:

“… You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State … Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State … Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”

Despite such lofty goals and high-sounding words the country is still very much divided over its purpose and ideology. Fundamentalist Muslims maintain that the nation was born in order to establish an Islamic state, but the question has always been, how much Islam is enough? Her leaders are under constant pressure by radical groups pursuing Islamization and full implementation of shariah (Islamic Law). Though logic might imply that Islam is failing its people, the common citizen argues that Islam is good; it is the people as Muslims who are bad. Pray for the leadership as they try to deal with tremendous diversity that God would grant them wisdom and justice. Pray that the blood of Shahbaz Bhatti would not be in vain and that God would use this cruel and inhumane act for the furtherance of the gospel. Pray for the protection and strength of Pakistani Christians against whom this unjust law can be used so viciously. Jesus alone can provide peace and security in this divided land!

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