Pakistan: Persecution watchdog fears ‘Talibanisation’ of Karachi

Observers in Pakistan are warning that the ‘Talibanisation’ of the nation’s largest city, Karachi, has begun.

According to a report in the Pakistan Christian Post, two Christians were shot and killed execution style in front of their families by a group of more than 100 masked Taliban in the Christian colony in Taiser Town on April 21.

Taliban militants had reportedly chalked threats onto churches and Christian homes in the predominantly Muslim town warning Christians to convert to Islam or die. Calls from the Christian community for protection were ignored by police.

According to Pakistani newspaper Daily Times, three Christians and a Pashtun were also injured when protesters clashed with Pashtun stallholders in nearby Sarjani Town, prompting authorities to impose a curfew.

The Pakistan Post reports that the gunmen told the Christians: “You infidels have to convert to Islam or die. Why did you clean off the warnings we chalked on your church and the doors of your houses? How dare you stage a procession against the Taliban?”

The President of the Pakistan Christian Congress, Dr Nazir Bhatti, told the Pakistan Post that although an attack had been feared for months nothing had been done to hold the Taliban in check.

“No action was taken to stop the Talibanisation of Karachi, which is being started by this attack on Christians. This is a warning bell for the Sindh government,” he said.

Persecution watchdog Release International says its partner organisation in Pakistan has described the situation in Karachi, the country’s financial centre, as grave and tense. The Taliban have set houses and Bibles on fire and written anti-Christian slogans on the walls of buildings.

Release’s partner said police and paramilitary forces had been deployed to protect the Christian community.

“This is another deeply worrying development for Christians in Pakistan,” said Release CEO Andy Dipper. “Strict Islamic law has been introduced in Swat valley to appease the militants and the Taliban have been looking for ways to aggressively expand the rule of Sharia law.

“Today we are witnessing the dire consequence for Christians as the Taliban seek to extend their influence by force – in the biggest city in Pakistan. The government must act now to safeguard the freedom of all its citizens – Christian and Muslim alike – from armed extremists.”