Pakistan Christians Invited to Embrace Islam (or Die Horribly)…

A Church center in Pakistan’s cosmopolitan eastern city of Lahore has been threatened with a suicide bomb attack, one of a series of intimidating messages given to Christians as the country’s security crisis worsens.

 

The threat was delivered on June 10 to a Christian woman who lives next to Rabita Manzil, the National Catholic Office for Social Communications, which includes the offices of the WAVE (Workshop Audio Visual Education) studio, Radio Veritas Asia’s Urdu service and the Union of Catholic Asian News.

The woman said two masked men arrived on a motorbike without number plates.

“We know that you and those at the recording studio are Christians. We warn you to leave this area, embrace Islam, pay 1,500,000 rupees (US$18,750) or be ready to die in a suicide bomb attack. Inform your neighbors as well,” she quoted the men as saying.

Christians have received similar threats in various parts of the country as fighting between government troops and the Taliban militants continues to rage in the country’s northwest.

Sacred Heart Cathedral, several Catholic schools in Lahore and various pastors have received threatening notes telling them to convert to Islam.

A Pentecostal Bible school in the southwestern city of Quetta was closed indefinitely after suspected Taliban militants threatened a suicide bomb attack last month.

Father Nadeem John Shakir, director of Rabita Manzil, issued a statement in Lahore immediately after learning about the threat to his center.

“This is the first time the studio has received such warning,” Father Shakir said in the press release June 10. “This has made us sad and very insecure. We are quite helpless in this regard. The threat has also demoralized our employees. If something happens to our center a number of Church activities will collapse.”

In his statement, Father Shakir called on people to prayer for studio staff and those engaged in “such inhuman acts or supporters of such beastly activities, so that they may change their nature and become good human beings.”

The priest told UCA News that neighbors of the center had been supportive.

“However, no one can guarantee the security of our houses, convents, churches, schools, hospitals and other institutions. Even the law enforcement agencies are not safe themselves.”

Intense government fighting against Taliban militants has triggered a wave of attacks in cities across the country, the most recent being a suicide bombing of a hotel in Peshawar on June 9. The attack on the city’s premier Pearl Continental Hotel left 11 dead, including two UN aid workers, and 60 injured.

The latest bombing affects relief efforts in the country. Peshawar lies near the Swat Valley, where Pakistani government forces are battling Taliban militia in fighting that has forced more than 2.5 million people from their homes. The hotel was used by some foreign aid workers helping the displaced.

Christians & Hindus live with in fear death for refusing to convert to Islam

There have been reportedly an increasing number of Islamic threats and attacks against Christians in several areas of Pakistan, the most prominent recent one was on Easter day a Christian journalist in Pakistan feared for his life , after receiving threatening letters for publishing pro-democracy columns in a national daily and refusing to convert to Islam. George Masih, 43, who lives with his wife Suneeta Bibi and his three young children at Gulistan Colony at the town of Lahore, wrote a number of columns and articles for the Aaj Kal, a Lahore-based daily. His first column, “Qaum Ab Jaag Jaye” (“The Nation should wake-up now”) allegedly aroused anger among Muslims in the area after its initial publication on August 11, last year. Masih wanted to promote more religious tolerance and democracy in the Islamic nation, said the Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), which supports the journalist. George said he received his first threatening letter October 28, from the Islamic Tanzeem Organization, threatening “dire consequences” for him and his family, if he did not convert to Islam.

Hindu Girls kidnapped raped and forcefully converted to Islam

 Increasing incidents of kidnapping of Hindu community members and “conversion” have caused concern in Sindh. Approximately 30 to 35 minority members had been kidnapped; one of them was killed. Seven are still believed to be in the custody of abductors. Around 18 Hindu girls had been converted to Islam; one of them was reportedly killed this year. These issues were also highlighted during the last days of parliamentary year of the Sindh Assembly by the Pakistan People’s Party-Parliamentarian (PPP-P) minority legislator, Pitanbar Sewani.

Muslim Mob Drags Christian Women through Streets

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Noor Husain, the father of a Muslim woman who eloped with a Christian man, led a mob of his neighbors and friends in an attack on his village’s only church in Pakistan’s Punjab province. After desecrating the church, the men forced their way into Christian homes, dragged out the women, and paraded them forcefully on the streets.

 
The assault, which occurred several months ago, so terrified the Christian community that 21 families fled, leaving only four Christian families who are still in the village.
 
“Petrified Christians locked their homes and fled to their relatives, living in other villages and cities, to save their lives,” said Ashraf Masih, a Christian resident who has remained in the village.
 
Several Christians were injured, including two women whose teeth were broken. 

We will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world: Baitullah Mehsud

Baitullah Mehsud, the brazen Taliban chief based in Waziristan, has been able to escape several attempts to kill and capture him because he has friends in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. An unnamed Pakistani official said in confidentiality that senior US officials had even shared with their counterparts in Islamabad “some intelligence indicating that renegade ISI elements helped Mehsud’s group train for the December 2007 assassination of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto”. But despite that and Pakistan’s purported knowledge of his whereabouts, “it’s a puzzle why they’re ignoring and avoiding any strike against him,” expressed one tribal elder in the region. “On several occasions over the past couple of years, security forces in Pakistan have launched operations to kill or capture him, and each time he has vanished without incident citing unnamed officials in Islamabad and Washington. Mehsud’s contacts, the theory goes, are tipping him off before Pakistani troops can pounce.” “Baitullah is very much mixed up in Afghanistan and with Al Qaeda,” said one Afghan Taliban commander, adding that Mehsud poses “a very real danger in Pakistan”, where he has ‘revitalized’ what it called “Pakistan’s jihadist network”. He has brought together disparate groups of Pashtun warlords, Jihadi fighters from Punjab and Al Qaeda fugitives from across the Muslim world.

 

The US had announced a $5 million reward on Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud 10 days ago, “elevating him… to the rank of a senior Al Qaeda leader” “Since February, CIA drones have concentrated their missiles on Mehsud’s mountainous demesne,” On Monday, he responded in the way he knows best, by attacking on a police academy in Lahore.

Mehsud claimed responsibility for the attack. An “increasingly-emboldened” Mehsud has claimed credit for several attacks in Pakistan and also threatening to attack the US. “Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world Although US General David Petraeus said he was ‘galvanized’ by the claim, few analysts take the threat seriously.baitullah-mehsud

Pakistan: The greatest threat

The Islamic militants who attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team also have Britain and the US in their sights, write Omar Waraich and Raymond Whitaker.

 

Three separate bombings, including one in which a dead body was used to lure policemen to the scene, killed 15 people in Pakistan yesterday, underlining the helplessness of the authorities as they search in vain for the militants who attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team last week.

 

Six policemen were killed on Tuesday as a dozen gunmen ambushed the Sri Lankan team bus in broad daylight in the centre of Lahore, long regarded as Pakistan’s least-troubled city. The cricketers escaped with relatively minor wounds, but the sight of them having to be evacuated by helicopter from the pitch where they were due to play a Test match against Pakistan, coupled with widespread reporting of the reaction of English and Australian match officials, and coaches caught up in the attack, brought home to millions what the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, described as the “mortal threat” that Pakistan faces from its “internal enemies”. It was the first direct terrorist attack on a sports team since the Munich Olympics in 1972.

Yesterday seven policemen and a bystander died in the worst bombing of the day, underlining the extent to which large areas of Pakistan have slipped out of government control. The incident occurred in the Badaber area of Peshawar, where the authorities believed they had achieved a rare success against the militants, who were recently driven back by local people working with law enforcement agencies. But the militants promised revenge, and lured the police to their deaths. An anonymous phone call said a body had been left in a car; when the police approached, a bomb in the car was detonated by remote control.

 

Hours earlier, an improvised explosive device damaged a military convoy as it passed through the notorious arms-manufacturing town of Darra Adam Khel, on the edge of the tribal areas. Three passers-by were killed and four troops injured, while a suicide bombing in a mosque in Khyber killed four and wounded five.

The attacks emphasise that the civilian government of President Asif Zardari is no more effective than the military rule of his predecessor, General Pervez Musharraf, at stemming the brutal advance of militancy across the country. Indeed, Mr Zardari and his Pakistan People’s Party seem more preoccupied with using the judiciary to exclude a former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, and his brother, Shahbaz, from office than confronting the militant threat. Shahbaz was ousted as premier of Punjab province, whose capital is Lahore, just before the attack on the cricketers, bringing accusations that the political turmoil had hampered security arrangements.

Mr Miliband made his “mortal threat” comment during an appeal to Pakistan’s civilian politicians to cease their infighting and unite against adversaries who regard both sides as obstacles to their dream of turning Pakistan into a regime similar to Afghanistan under the Taliban. This year both American and British officials have become increasingly open about their fear that Pakistan – which has nuclear weapons under the control of a military at least to some extent open to extremist influence – is a greater danger than Afghanistan.

Security agencies have warned that two-thirds of the terror plots Britain faces originate in Pakistan, or are supported from there. But the inability or unwillingness of Pakistan to curb the flow of militants into Afghanistan also poses a direct threat to British and American troops there. The task of the Nato forces may be further complicated by political turmoil in Afghanistan – President Hamid Karzai, whose term expires next month, finally accepted yesterday that an election could not be held until August, when the “surge” of up to 30,000 extra US troops will have had time to stabilise the country. But he wants to stay in office until then, while his opponents insist that he step down in April.

Recently MPs were told in London that Pakistani generals still considered it in the country’s strategic interest to have the Taliban – which was created by Pakistan’s military intelligence service – in power in Kabul rather than President Karzai’s government, which is closer to India. Shaun Gregory, head of the Pakistan Security Research Unit at Bradford University, told the Foreign Affairs Committee that Pakistan’s role in the Afghan Taliban’s comeback “lies somewhere between passive tolerance … [and] open and active support”. Britain, the US and Nato found themselves “reliant on an ‘ally’ which does not share their interests and whom they cannot trust”.

Other experts told the committee that Pakistan showed little interest in tackling Islamic lmilitant commanders such as Jalaluddin Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, both old mujahedin leaders in Afghanistan who have thrown in their lot with al-Qa’ida and with the foreign Islamists who have made their base in Waziristan, the largest and most lawless of the tribal areas along the Pakistani border. Instead, the Pakistani military has been battling a new generation of younger militants who want to “Talibanise” Pakistan.

They include the leader of the Pakistan Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, 34, who is accused of sending the suicide bombers who killed President Zardari’s wife, Benazir Bhutto, in December 2007, after which he inherited her political mantle. The Pakistani military formed an alliance with two of Mr Mehsud’s rivals, Maulvi Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who concentrated on fighting in Afghanistan, and mounted a joint campaign against the Pakistani Taliban leader and his al-Qa’ida aligned Uzbek cohorts. But now, as Washington has stepped up its CIA-operated drone strikes in tribal areas, Mr Nazir and Mr Bahadur appear to have cut ties with the Pakistan army and joined Mr Mehsud to form “Shura Ittehad Mujahedin”, or Council of United Jihadists. The new Waziristan alliance has declared Afghanistan’s former leader, Mullah Omar, its spiritual guide, and Islamabad, Kabul and Washington its enemies.

Pakistan’s army sees the move as a setback to its efforts to divide and rule in the tribal areas, while the continuing spate of American missile attacks, including a report yesterday of a drone that crashed in the tribal areas, emphasises Washington’s lack of confidence in the Pakistan government’s ability to serve American interests.

The Obama administration has recently broadened its range of targets, striking for the first time last month training camps run by Hakimullah Mehsud, an associate of Baitullah Mehsud. Militants and suspected criminal elements working with Hakimullah were responsible for a flurry of attacks on Nato convoys destined for Afghanistan as they approached the Khyber Pass.

Islamabad is more concerned about militants such as Maulana Fazlullah of the Swat valley. The Taliban commander seized up to four-fifths of the valley in a brutal campaign, and, faced with losing the valley to the Taliban, the government sued for peace last month. It signed a deal with Mr Fazlullah’s estranged father-in-law, Sufi Mohammed, as the army ceased its military operation. The government bowed to Sufi Mohammed’s demands, imposing Islamic law in the area in return for a cessation of hostilities. Analysts worry the concession could create a sanctuary for Islamic militants, including al-Qa’ida, just a three-hour drive from Islamabad.

The spread of Islamic militancy across the Indus river to the more populous, settled areas of Pakistan is likely to widen the divergence of interests between Islamabad and the West still further. After six suicide attacks in 2006, suicide bombings in Pakistan have shot up to 10 times that number in each of the two following years. The commando-style attack in Lahore, echoing the assault on India’s richest city, Mumbai, last November, brings a new tactic to parts of Pakistan which have never had to think about the wars raging in the mountains and plains further west.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/pakistan-the-greatest-threat-1639779.html

Cricketers attacked in the terrorist headquarters of Pakistan

In the Islamic terrorist headquarters of Pakistan seven Sri Lankan players and a British coach were injured and six policemen killed in the attack.

sri-lankan-team

 

A bus driver also died. In a chilling reminder of the deadly strikes in the Indian city of Mumbai last November, they wore backpacks and were carrying AK-47s, grenades and rocket launchers.

muslim-terroists

They struck as the bus negotiated a roundabout near the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore, shooting first at its tyres to make the driver stop. Players said they threw a grenade and tried to hit them with a rocket but missed before starting a hail of bullets, forcing them to throw themselves to the floor. Thilan Samaraweera was shot in the leg and fellow batsmen Tharanga Paranthavina was hit in the chest by shrapnel. Both were treated in hospital but later released. Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Ajantha Mendis, Suranka Lakmal and Chaminda Vaas and British assistant coach Paul Farbrace were also wounded.  They had all leapt to the floor to try and avoid the bullets. Referee Chris Broad was spattered with blood and in shock, but otherwise unharmed. His wife, Michelle, who spoke to him this morning, said: ‘He’s okay now. They are all very shocked. He has been helicoptered out of the ground now and flown to Abu Dhabi. He told me that he will be back home tomorrow.’ Australian Steve Davis, who was umpiring the match, added: ‘It was terrible. The van driver died in front of us. I am lost for words.’

team-bus

 

Pakistan cricket is facing a bleak future, with visiting teams certain to boycott tours to the troubled nation for the foreseeable future in the wake of Tuesday’s terrorist attack in Lahore. As international cricket pondered the ramifications, it became almost certain that Pakistan would be stripped of its status as the co-host of the 2011 World Cup.

Asked about plans for the World Cup, ICC president David Morgan was blunt in his assessment. “Things will have to change dramatically in Pakistan, in my opinion, if any of the games are to be staged there.”

The chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, was less blunt but the message was the same. “It is pretty, pretty serious and it is very obvious that the landscape and the thinking have changed dramatically,” Lorgat t said. “We are going to have to reevaluate what we do and where Pakistan plays its cricket.”

Those views were echoed by Sharad Pawar, the ICC vice president and former head of the Indian cricket board, a close ally of the Pakistan Cricket Board. India had been forced to abandon their tour of Pakistan in January following a government directive after the attacks on Mumbai.

Visiting teams have experienced brushes with terrorism in the past but only now, with the Sri Lankans directly targeted by Islamic Terroists, is Pakistan faced with a blanket boycott. Even those who urged international teams not to abandon Pakistan have now accepted the inevitable.

Wasim Akram, the former Pakistan captain, said Pakistan hosting the World Cup in 2011 was now a “distant dream”.

“How do you expect a foreign team to come to Pakistan now? We took pride in hosting our guests,” Akram told ESPN Star. “This image has taken a beating. It’s sad for Pakistan.”

Waqar Younis, Akram’s bowling partner, said the chances of foreign teams coming to Pakistan were now remote. “We have to agree with whatever the ICC decides,” he said.

Ramiz Raja, another prominent voice in Pakistan, said he had never thought there would be a situation where sportspersons would be targeted in Pakistan.

The series against Sri Lanka was cancelled immediately after Tuesday’s attacks, and similar announcements regarding other tours are expected in the coming months.

Australia, India, New Zealand and the West Indies are among the teams to have postponed or cancelled tours to Pakistan in recent years, and New Zealand will almost certainly call off their scheduled series there in November. The Black Caps experienced first-hand the dangers of touring Pakistan in 2002, when a bomb exploded outside their Karachi hotel, and NZC chief executive Justin Vaughan hinted strongly that the team would not return in the near future.

“It’s very frightening that for the first time a cricket team appears to be the specific target of terrorist action,” Vaughan told NZPA

Bodies of the dead policemen

pak-police

 

Indian Cricket team Captain Dhoni also said that he was happy they didn’t go ahead with the Pakistan tour as planned. “I am happy we didn’t tour Pakistan, and that the government didn’t allow us to tour Pakistan.

“I suppose it’s tough for Pakistan cricket to come back from this, for no fault of their own,” New Zealand cricket team captain Daniel Vettori said. “It’s difficult to see teams turning up there in the near future.”

 

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