Pakistan Evangelical Pastor Killed Amid Growing Religious Tensions


By BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos with Jawad Mazhar, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from

PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– Christians in Pakistan’s volatile North West Frontier Province (NWFP) faced new tensions Wednesday, January 30, amid reports that a Pakistani pastor has been shot and killed because of his involvement in evangelistic work.

It was the second loss for Sheter Now International. In April 2005, Babar Samson, another pastor and staff member of the group, was also murdered along with his driver by what rights watchers described as "religious extremists" in Peshawar.

"MURDERED FOR "


pastor Hashmat of an Assembly of God in Peshawar in comments published by ICC.

Hundreds of people, including Christians, have been killed in attacks and fighting between Pakistani forces and militants. In one of the latest incidents Wednesday, January 30, three suspected militants were killed when explosives they were handling went off accidentally near Peshawar, said.

At the same time, bodies of some 13 Pakistani paramilitary soldiers kidnapped by militants last week were found in an abandoned vehicle, Reuters news agency quoted officials and police as saying Wednesday, January 30. The bodies were recovered in Darra Adam Kheil, a tribal area near the city of Peshawar in NWFP, where fighting broke out on Friday after militants seized four trucks carrying ammunition and other supplies for soldiers.

MORE INCIDENTS REPORTED

It were the latest in a series of incidents. "Over recent years the North West Frontier Province has steadily become a hotbed of Islamic radicalism," said Barnabas Fund, a group supporting Christians facing difficulties in especially Muslim nations. "The increasing power of the in the region and the failure of the central government to control the area have meant that Christians are becoming exposed to increasing danger," Barnabas Fund said.

In 2003 provincial legislators reportedly unanimously passed a bill giving Shari`a, or ‘Islamic law’, precedence over secular provincial legislation. "Militants have also enforced an unofficial parallel justice system based on extreme versions of Shari`a. This has placed great pressure on minorities," said Barnabas Fund, which has close contacts with Christians in the region.

However NWFP is no exception, the group told BosNewsLife. "The strength of Islamic radicalism throughout Pakistan was recently indicated by the assassination of [former prime minister and opposition leader] Benazir Bhutto," Barnabas Fund explained. It also cited examples in Punjab Province, where crime groups have alleged "colluded" with local authorities.

Among several incidents, suspected Muslim criminals allegedly kidnapped and sold for "illegal human organ extraction and transplantation," a Christian teenager in the village of Marr Balochaan, BosNewsLife learned this week. Francis Nadeem, 15, disappeared last month, said his father Sadeeq Masih. The detained suspects say they threw the body in a canal, but his corpse has never been found, Masih said.

ANOTHER MAN KILLED

Earlier this month a man was killed in Punjab Province by unknown gunmen after apparently mistaking him for his brother who had been accused of against . Simon Emmanuel was shot to death on January 9, after his brother, Younis Tasadaq, came home from the to visit his family, several Christian sources said.

He said it is the duty of each Christian "to fulfill the great commission of the Lord Jesus Christ," to spread the around the world. Muslims make up some 97 percent of Pakistan’s population, while Hindus comprise 1.5 percent, and Christians 1.7 percent, according to estimates. (Read more from Jawad Mazhar via www.raysofdevelopments.org.) Also visit: www.bosnewslife.com).

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