Pakistan: Christian youth killed in North Waziristan

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa [Pakistan], February 24 (ANI): A member of the Christian community, Ayaz Masih was killed in the Eidak area of Mirali tehsil in Pakistan on Thursday, reported Dawn.

Local police stated that it was for the first time that a minority member was targeted in the district.

As per reports, Masih was purchasing daily-use items in Eidak area when some unknown persons opened fire and killed him on the spot, reported Dawn.

The police stated that the attackers managed to escape. "We have launched an investigation into the incident," police said.

Later, the body was shifted to the district headquarters hospital Miramshah, reported Dawn.

The Christian community, which constitutes roughly 1.6 per cent of Pakistan’s population, suffers from racism and religious intolerance.

In an opinion piece in The Pakistan Daily, author Maheen Mustafa says Christians have been persecuted in Pakistan for decades, but there has been an increase in anti-Christian sentiment since the late 1980s when dictator Zia ul Haq enacted Pakistan’s blasphemy legislation, which has mostly been utilised to punish Christians.

Mario de Gasperi, writing in the Center of Political and Foreign Affairs (CPFA) said that discrimination against the Christian community is deeply rooted in Pakistan.

The Muslim majority describe them using derogatory terms such as ‘churha’ or ‘kafir,’ which means infidel. A large proportion of the Christian community is from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, poorly educated, and takes up low-paid manual labour such as in brick kilns or the sanitation sector.

Perhaps the greatest suffering faced by them is the underlying societal hostility, the daily discrimination such as denial of services, access to political voice, or limitation to educational opportunities, said Gasperi.

Christian community is forced to burry five to 10 bodies in a single grave that is already filled with skeletons and bones as there are four graveyards for more than 70,000 Christians living in Peshawar and other cities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, The News International reported citing members.

Augustin Jacob, a representative of the Christian community in Peshawar, said that old graves are being dug up and used for burying the dead. He said that no attention has been paid to this aspect due to the increased population rate, as per the news report.

He said that there have been discussions with the government, however, the authority’s talk of giving land outside the city for graveyards could cause more issues for the Christian community.

Jacob said that the Christian community needs a place in the city where people can reach easily. He said most of the Christians living in the region belong to the working class and cannot afford to purchase land for the new graveyard, as per The News International report. (ANI)