Pakistan Christian TV station back on air after suspected arson attack

Debris from the fire at the Gawahi TV station.

The Pakistan Christian TV station hit by a suspected arson attack has resumed transmission three weeks after the blaze.

The equipment used by Karachi-based Gawahi TV was completely destroyed in the fire and Rev Sarfraz William, owner and CEO of the television station, told RNS he has borrowed equipment to continue broadcasting concerts, prayers and church services during the Christmas season.

"We are doing God's work and we are doing whatever we can to render our services on Christmas by resuming the transmission," he said.

"Though it is not in the way we had planned on Christmas, but something is better than nothing."

He is convinced that the blaze was started deliberately, saying that locks were cut and chemicals were used to accelerate the flames. Local police told RNS they did not believe it was arson, blaming an electrical fault.

Attacks on Christians and Christian institutions are common in Pakistan, ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for Christian persecution by Open Doors. A common tactic is the misuse of Pakistan's notorious blasphemy law, which is used to settle private scores. Among other high-profile cases is that of Asia Bibi, who has been in prison for six years for insulting the prophet Muhammad, an allegation she has always denied.

Sarfraz William and his brother Javed, who manage Gawahi TV, say that the fire has cost them around two million rupees, or £20,000. They have raised about a quarter of that sum by an appeal to viewers.

"We are very poor and were already hardly managing the work of God," Javed William said.