ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)-- Dozens of Christian families in Pakistan's second largest city refused to vacate their homes Tuesday, November 11, despite the expiration of an order from authorities to leave immediately, Christian rights investigators said. The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) issued a notice to some 48 Christian families in Lahore on October 28, to vacate their houses within 72 hours without providing compensation and alternative housing, said the US-based human rights group International Christian Concern (ICC) with Website www.persecution.org. LDA is responsible for planned development in Lahore and also acts as a regulatory body for construction and related permissions for homes and commercial properties. The Christian neighborhood is scheduled to be demolished to make way for a widening of the main road in their Mariyam colony in Lahore's Quid-e-Azam town area, ICC said. "In violation of eminent domain law in Pakistan, however, the government is not offering these families any compensation.â€? The 67-year-old local resident Mansha Bhagat, who chairs the advocacy group Pakistan Masih Itehad, or 'Pakistan Christian Unity' said in published remarks that he and others would â€œnever allow the administration to demolish their houses. "The local government does not treat us as equal citizens, and we are not provided the basic civic facilities as well."HUNDREDS OF HARDSHIPSBhagat added that the forefathers of the Christian community "faced hundreds of hardships to build this colony and now it is impossible for us to leave this place for the [notorious criminals]." He said he would be the "first one" to put himself "in front of the bulldozers when they come to bulldoze our houses." ICC said some 70 people threatened that they would commit â€œcollective suicideâ€? if government officials bulldozed their houses. Bhagat has urged authorities to allot alternative plots with complete civic facilities and compensation to all the effected families, ICC added. Several families have reportedly moved their belongings to their relatives' houses, but were determined to stay in their own houses even if that meant their deaths. â€œThey complained that their children are experiencing severe emotional anxiety and could not go to school,â€? ICC said. Officials could not immediately be reached for comment, but ICC said there have been talks between LDA and representatives of Christians, who have been living in the neighborhood since 1984 and â€œregularly pay all their utility bills.â€?The group said it has urged its supporters around the world to contact Pakistani embassies to demand they "protect the rights of Christians and all religious minorities." There has been growing tensions over the perceived lack of protection of religious minorities in this mainly Muslim nation. END
SWAT VALLEY, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)-- Christians and women from different religious backgrounds were anxiously awaiting the end of fresh violence in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province Sunday, November 9, after militants attacked a girls school and kidnapped a father for sending his daughter to school, police said. Since Friday, November 7, fighters, apparently with links to Taliban and al-Qaida groups, blew up a girlsâ€™ primary school and a basic health unit in the province's militancy-hit Swat Valley, near the main town of Mangora, Pakistani and Indian media reported. There were apparently no serious injuries in the two attacks. The Taliban have so far destroyed at least 120 schools â€“ 82 girls and 38 boysâ€™ schools â€“ in the province, including Christian run institutions. Taliban militants also kidnapped a person, identified as named Muhammad, apparently for allowing his girl to study. There were no immediate reports of his whereabouts. Christians have been reeling from other attacks, including last month, when Taliban militants bombed a Catholic-run girlsâ€™ school in Swat Valley. CONVENT GIRLS The militants attacked the Convent Girlsâ€™ School in Sangota, run by the Presentation Sisters, a Catholic religious order that has opened girlsâ€™ schools around the world. Christians said militants had threatened the school frequently for offering education to females.Fighting also continued between government forces and militants in North-West Frontier Province, injuring at least five civilians and several soldiers since Friday, November 7, authorities said. The clashes followed several suicide attacks this week, in which at least a dozen tribesmen loyal to the central government were killed. Aid workers and other foreigners have also been caught up in the fighting. The Polish Foreign Ministry said efforts were underway to free a Polish engineer kidnapped September 28, some 200 kilometers south of the Pakistani capital Islamabad. The kidnappers reportedly killed his three accompanying guards.POLE ALIVE"We have new information, which we cannot present at the moment, but which proves that the Pole is alive. We can never be sure that all the information we receive guarantees a 100 percent certainty," added Ministry spokesman Piotr Paszkowski in a statement. A video recording appeared on television in mid October, with the Pole appealing to Pakistani authorities to fulfill the demands of the kidnappers, including the release of jailed Taliban fighters. Taliban and al-Qaida militants are battling against the Western-backed government of Pakistan and have made clear they want to establish a state based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law, which would include a ban on education for girls. END
KHAR/BAJAUR, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)-- Minority Christians and other residents in northwest Pakistan braced for more violence Friday, November 7, after suicide bombers killed at least a dozen pro-government Pakistani tribesmen and security forces in two major attacks, government officials told BosNewsLife.