Pakistan: Christian TV station destroyed in suspected arson attack

A Pakistan Christian TV channel has been damaged by fire in a suspected arson attack.

Debris from the fire at the Gawahi TV station.Reuters

The offices of Gawahi TV in Lahore were targeted and studios, computers, Bibles, cable network equipment and furniture were destroyed.

Police have said that they are investigating the fire, which was reported in the early morning on Tuesday and took nearly two hours to extinguish.

Javed William, whose brother, Pastor Sarfraz William, is the owner of Gawahi TV, told the New York Times that the fire appeared to be a planned attack. "The door locks were cut and the things were not where we had left them," he said, adding that a security camera system had been destroyed in the fire.

Employees said computers were destroyed or stolen.

"The hard disks are missing," said Irfan Daniel, an assistant manager. "Someone did this with a lot of thought."

Javed William said he was not aware of any threats to the organisation. "This is not an attack on us," he said. "It is an attack on Christianity. Whoever did this does not want God's work to happen."

Religious tensions are a fact of life in Muslim-majority Pakistan and Christian churches and businesses have been attacked before. Dr Nazir S Bhatti, President of the Pakistan Christian Congress, condemned the attack and demanded the arrest of the culprits. He also condemned what he said was the lack of coverage of the incident by mainstream media.