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Pakistan: 200 Christian families left homeless after unannounced government bulldozing

by Tola Mbakwe

It’s been reported homes in a large Christian colony in Pakistan have been destroyed by government contractors.

According to Pakistani religion freedom watchdog The Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS-UK), people of the Nawaz Sharif Colony in Islamabad weren’t warned about the plans to demolish their homes before it took place by Capital Development Authority (CDA).

While there were no injuries or deaths during the demolition on 18th October, it’s reported that a local church was also destroyed.  

CLAAS-UK Director Nasir Saeed said: “These Christians have lost everything - their homes and all of their worldly possessions.

“Many of them have lived in the colony for years, raising their families here and investing their life savings into building and maintaining their homes.

“It is a travesty of justice that their homes have been wiped out without any alternative provision of accommodation.

“The timing is particularly concerning, coming so soon after costly and devastating floods, and with winter already here and temperatures plummeting.

“It is imperative that the Pakistani government financially compensate the Christians who have lost their homes and provide them with somewhere else to live.”

Sabra Saeed Athwal, a former councillor and one of those who lost her home called the demolition “a criminal act”. She’s also worried two other Christian colonies, Akram Gill and Rimsha colonies, could also be destroyed.

“The Government must pay our damages and rebuild our houses or if the government needs this place for any development purpose, they must provide us with an alternative place and help us to build our houses there,” said Mrs Athwal.

“There are 4,000 people residing in The Nawaz Sharif Colony, Akaram Gill Colony and Rimsha colony. They are all poor and it is not possible for any of us to move somewhere else immediately. It is the government’s responsibility to provide us with a roof over our heads. Although we are Christian, we are Pakistani citizens too.”

CLAAS-UK said false rumours have been circulating that an agreement was signed between the CDA and local residents in which they agreed to move before the demolition.

It’s suspected that “hard-line Muslims” but pressure on the CDA to get of the homes.

Pakistan is eighth on the Open Doors World Watch List which ranks countries for its persecution of Christians.

The organisation states: “In Pakistan, Christians are considered second-class citizens and are discriminated against in every aspect of public and private life. Believers who have converted from Islam are the most vulnerable to persecution.”

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