The secretary general of the umbrella church group ‘God’s People Fellowship of Pakistan’, Asharf P. Butt, said in a statement obtained by BosNewsLife that his group also urged the government to “allow pilgrims to visit the historic holy Bible land of Israel.”
Butt, who is also the legal advisor of the independent Pakistan International Human Rights Organization, said travel to Israel was virtually impossible for Pakistani Christians because of the lack of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
He said Pakistani Christians, which he described as the main “religious minority” here, have been deprived” from the benefits of the Universal Human Rights Charter as they “ and “can not visit” key places mentioned in the Bible.
"Since decades Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Turkey, Mauritania and other Arab neighboring Muslim States have also established diplomatic ties with the state of Israel" and Pakistan should do the same, he said. He noticed that while India is seen as “an enemy" of Pakistan because of wars over the Kashmir region, Islamabad had decided to establish diplomatic relations with New Delhi.
So, he wondered, "Why Pakistan can not recognize and establish friendly relations with the state of Israel? What is the harm?" He said the estimated over 10 million Christians in Pakistan have been awaiting the establishment of diplomatic ties with Israel for over five decades.
The appeal came as Christians on Saturday, December 1, anticipated more democratic reforms, after Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf resigned this week as army chief. "I will not be in the uniform from tomorrow, which I have been wearing for 46 years," he said at a ceremony.
SAYING "GOOD BYE"
"I am saying good bye to the army, this army is my life, this is my passion and I have loved the Pakistan Army," he added as he handed over command to General Ashfaq Kayani.
He also said it was his intention to lift emergency rule by December 16, following weeks of protests and international pressure. Thousands of people, including Christian activists, have been detained.
The chairman of the Christian-leaning Rays of Development advocacy group, Ferhan Mazher, told BosNewsLife that he has welcomed the president’s move However he and other Christian leaders have also urged Musharraf to increase the reserved number of seats for minority representatives in the national and provincial assemblies. They have also urged the president to induct minority representation, including Christians, in the Senate as well, BosNewsLife learned.