A horrible Terrorist Crime in Pakistan/ Elias Bejjani

"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness� sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 5:10).

Why, for heaven's sake are the free and democratic countries of the world, the USA, Europe and all the others, turning a blind eye, adopting an indifferent and laissez-faire stance, and not taking any practical deterrent action against their close ally, the government of Pakistan who boldly and savagely continues to either commit or cover up heinous and brutal crimes against minorities, especially against the persecuted and impoverished Christians and their clergy, politicians, officials and leaders?

Most of these crimes that range between systematized persecution, planned inhuman atrocities, shameful discrimination, fabricated judicial charges, unjust trials and harsh sentences are inflicted by the government itself through notorious controversial blasphemy laws that deprive non-Muslim Pakistani citizens of their basic rights.

Incredibly, Pakistan receives billions of dollars in aids annually from the USA and other Western countries while its record in both human rights violations and terrorism is one of the worse in the world. The question is why the continued aids are not made conditional on the Pakistani government ensuring equal citizenship rights for minorities. This is the least that the Western countries ought to do.

The Western countries have moral, ethical and human obligations to force their close ally, the Pakistani government to change its anti- minority attitudes and to cancel all the barbaric and inhumane blasphemy laws.

With no doubt the statements of condemnation that the Western countries issue after each crime that targets Christians in Pakistan are ignored and will continue to be a waste of time unless they coincide with economic sanctions and a clear set of pre-conditions on the aids that Pakistan receives.

Yesterday another horrible crime took place in Pakistan when the honorable Shahbaz Bhatti, Federal Minister for Minorities was assassinated. The victim was the only Christian Minister in the Pakistani cabinet. He was a courageous human rights activist who spoke loudly against terrorism and terrorists, stood bravely against the Pakistani blasphemy laws and witnessed for what is fair and righteous for all the Pakistani persecuted minorities.

In my capacity as founder and chairman of the Lebanese Canadian Coordinated Council (LCCC), I condemn this cowardly attack against a brave, honest, and faithful man who had the guts to speak out loudly against extremists in his own country and denounce their terrorism, evil schemes and horrible atrocities.

The LCCC totally adopts the statement of condemnation that was issued yesterday by the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs. It urged the Pakistani Government to protect all those who find the courage to speak out against the country�s controversial blasphemy laws and to bring to justice the perpetrators of this heinous crime. The statement called on the Government of Pakistan to prevent the abuse of the blasphemy laws, which restrict freedom of religion and expression and have disproportionately targeted religious minorities.

From the LCCC we extend our deepest condolences to the Pakistani Christian communities, and to the family, and friends of Minister Bhatti and to the Pakistani people.

With our Canadian people and Government we will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who defend human rights around the world.�



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