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Thursday, 24 March 2011

UK ConDem Government to Double Foreign Aid to Pakistan Despite Its Persecution of Christians

ConDems to Double Foreign Aid to Pakistan Despite Its Persecution of Christians

A memorial service was held last week for the Christian Pakistani minister who was shot dead for proposing reform to his country’s blasphemy laws, yet the ConDem government has sought to reward Pakistan’s persecution of Christians by doubling Britain’s foreign aid contribution to that country to a staggering £446 million a year.
Pakistan’s first ever Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti was shot dead on 2 March by gunmen who ambushed his car in broad daylight in the Pakistan capital, Islamabad.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for his killing and called him a “blasphemer of Muhammad”. Mr Bhatti, who was the Pakistani cabinet's only Christian minister, had received death threats since 2009 for urging reform to the country’s blasphemy laws, which order the death sentence for anyone who insults Islam.
On 4 January, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who had also opposed the laws, was shot dead by one of his bodyguards. The murderer has been hailed by many in the country as a hero.
Governor Taseer had backed a private members’ bill in parliament by Sherry Rehman, a female MP, to amend the blasphemy law in an attempt to make miscarriages of justice less likely and remove their death penalties. It is reported that a fatwa has been issued against Ms Rehman calling her the next candidate for murder.
Critics say the blasphemy law has been used to persecute minority faiths. In particular, Christians, who make up an estimated 1.5 per cent of Pakistan's 185 million population, have been targeted.
In response to the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti, the EU Parliament adopted a weak resolution on 10 March. This was largely declaratory and offered very little assistance to the beleaguered Christians of Pakistan.
Nick Griffin MEP commented: "I note that our despicable Coalition government recently announced plans to double overseas aid to Pakistan to more than £445 million a year. They have not sought to attach any strings to help ensure religious freedom for Christians in that country.
"The EU motion likewise will do little to help Christians being persecuted and killed by fanatics. Cardinal O'Brien has called for conditions to be attached to any aid payments, requiring a definite commitment to protection for Christians and other religious minorities.
“I back him on that and welcome the strong stance of the Catholic Church on this, but would go further. I want conditions attached to trade agreements too. Christians under attack must be defended by all means at our disposal."
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