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Pakistan: Police car strikes and kills Christian, justice denied to grieving family

Persecution of Christians in Pakistan: in this case, the injustice done to the grieving family of Ashiq Masih was perpetrated by police officers. The entire Christian community of Pakistan lives with the fear that the harassment and persecution they experience on an all too frequent basis will be ignored or even abetted by the officials who should be protecting them. The accident that killed Ashiq Masih was made all the worse by the subsequent denial of adequate compensation and pressure on the family to pardon the driver.

Pakistan’s small and courageous Orthodox Christian community is as vulnerable to this persecution as are the rest of Pakistan’s Christians.

Please pray that the Christian community in Pakistan will be able to endure this martyrdom and experience a resurrection, and that relief will come to this courageous and long-suffering Christian community.

For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in Pakistan, see here.

“Expectations of Justice Low for Grieving Family of Street Sweeper in Pakistan,” Morning Star News, May 1, 2020:

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – When a Christian sanitation worker died after a police car struck him last week in Gujranwala, Pakistan, officers compensated his impoverished family with the equivalent of US$620.

Rights advocates fear the Christian family likely will be forced to pardon the driver.

The case typifies the discrimination and dangers that street sweepers face in Pakistan, a country with a 96-percent Muslim population where only non-Muslims – mostly Christians – are hired to pick up garbage from the roads….

Ashiq Masih, a 56-year-old Catholic working as a contract employee for the Gujranwala Municipal Corporation in Punjab Province, was picking up roadside garbage on April 24 when a police vehicle speeding the wrong way on a one-way street struck him at full force, critically injuring the father of three.

With several fractures in both legs and internal injuries, he was rushed to the Civil Hospital Gujranwala, where doctors recommended immediate transfer to the Mayo Hospital in Lahore. He died a few hours later at the Mayo Hospital, his brother Waris Masih said.

Police registered a First Information Report (FIR No. 407/20) on the complaint of the deceased’s son, Qaiser Ashiq, and arrested the driver of the police van, Muhammad Inayat. He was charged with causing hurt by rash or negligent driving under the Pakistan Penal Code’s Section 337-G, punishable by up to five years in prison, and under Section 279, which pertains to rash driving endangering human life and is punishable by up to two years in prison.

“Ashiq’s family is entitled to be paid at least 3.3 million rupees [US$20,440) in blood money under the Islamic laws of Qisas and Diyat, but I don’t think the police will pay them even a penny more from what they have already paid in the heat of the situation,” Lahore High Court Advocate Lazar Allah Rakha told Morning Star News.

Soon after the police vehicle struck Masih, officers arrived at his house and handed his wife 20,000 rupees (US$124) for her husband’s treatment, Waris Masih said.

“When news reached here that my brother had passed away, the police again visited our house and handed us 30,000 rupees [US$186],” he said. “The same evening, Gujranwala Deputy Commissioner Suhail Ashraf visited us and gave us 10 bags of food ration on behalf of the government. He also announced a compensation of 100,000 rupees (US$620) and said that Ashiq’s youngest son would be hired in his father’s position.”

Attorney Rakha said he believes police most likely will succeed in pressuring the family to pardon the accused driver. He added that a tough legal battle would have to be fought to get police to pay adequate compensation to the deceased’s family….

Pakistan ranked fifth on Christian support organization Open Doors 2020 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, and on Nov. 28, 2018, the United States added Pakistan to its blacklist of countries that violate religious freedom.

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