OFWI Confronts Pakistani Cabinet Ministers Over Human Rights Concerns
Dear Friends and Partners,
Last month Rev. El Shafie traveled to Pakistan for high-level meetings with Pakistani officials to discuss human rights issues and confront them with evidence of abuses in their country. This was a tremendous opportunity for OFWI to invite a delegation of North American politicians and religious leaders to join us to effect real change in Pakistan on behalf of religious minorities and oppressed and exploited women and children.
This mission was the result of more than 2 years of hard work, involving several trips to Pakistan and presenting evidence to the Canadian parliamentary Sub-Committee on Human Rights. After we finally persuaded the Pakistani government to meet with us, they still tried to cancel our meetings at the last minute, but our persistence finally paid off.
Our delegation met with the Cabinet Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, and Minority Affairs. During tense meetings overshadowed by security concerns, Rev. El Shafie denounced Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws. These vague and draconian laws are used by Muslim extremists to intimidate and oppress religious minorities and settle personal scores and petty disputes, ruining the lives of entire families and often resulting in the death of the victim. Rev. El Shafie also demanded authorities protect minority girls and prosecute those who rape and forcibly convert them. He presented evidence obtained by OFWI of labour camps where Christians and other minorities live and work as modern-day slaves in appalling conditions and discussed human trafficking which is a serious related problem in Pakistan.
In the presence of our delegation, including a member of parliament, church leaders, and a media professional, the Pakistani officials admitted they could not deny Rev. El Shafie’s evidence. They promised to work toward shutting down the slave camps and invited Rev. El Shafie to return to revisit the issue. In the meantime, Rev. El Shafie informed the Pakistani officials that we would be urging the Canadian government to link our development aid to improvements in these areas. Rev. El Shafie also discussed at length the situation of minorities in the Swat Valley, where the government had entered into a peace agreement with the Taliban extremist group and where all-out war has since broken out between government forces and the Taliban. Before leaving Pakistan the delegation met with leaders of Pakistani religious minorities and held a press conference during which Rev. El Shafie criticized the Pakistani press for failing to address these issues.
Pakistan is at a cross-road. How it deals with these issues will determine its future and the safety and prosperity of its people. We were pleased with the discussions but we must continue to keep pressure on the Pakistani government to ensure concrete results. OFWI will continue to monitor the situation in Pakistan and will not let up until we have proof that the Pakistani government has indeed taken effective measures to protect its minorities.
This mission was a remarkable opportunity and, like so much of our work, we must step out in faith and request your assistance after the fact, trusting in your continued prayers and faithful support. An undertaking like this requires a tremendous amount of time, input, and financial resources that we simply do not have, even though we take care to keep our expenses to a minimum. As a result, we are asking you to participate with a special gift. We have determined that if every one of our friends and partners contributed only $20 in addition to your normal support, this would allow us to settle the expenses incurred in this operation so that we can continue to pursue freedom and equality for religious minorities in Pakistan and elsewhere.
• for the people of Pakistan, that they would be able to live in peace, harmony, and mutual respect for each others’ religious differences and have the freedom to worship, share, explore, discuss, and even change their beliefs, openly and without fear;
• for Pakistani authorities and the government, that they would have the courage to stand up for religious freedom and human rights and the wisdom to build up and strengthen their country by encouraging the active participation of their minorities as full citizens;
• for the religious extremists, that they would recognize the futility and evil of their actions and experience true peace through the Prince of Peace so they can turn their attentions from tearing down their country toward building it up; and,
• for protection for the OFWI team as we continue to make interventions such as this one in countries where the security situation is compromised.
As you know, the Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action and:
• write to your Pakistani embassy (contact details are included below) demanding that the Pakistani government respect and uphold the human rights of their citizens and that they would start by:
• neutralizing and then repealing the Blasphemy Laws, • protecting minority girls and fully prosecuting those who rape and forcibly convert them, • shutting down the slave labour camps and helping victims to develop the skills to earn a living, and • strengthening the country’s borders against human traffickers and weapons and drug smugglers. Advise them that you have been informed of the situation by One Free World International and that you will continue to monitor the situation in Pakistan and expect to see significant improvements in all of these areas. • help us by sharing the burden of this operation and sending your special contribution of $20 or more today to enable us to meet the financial obligations of this mission by:
• mailing it to:
One Free World International 20 Bloor Street East, Box 75129 Toronto, ON M4W 3T3
• or depositing it directly to our account at:
Bank: Royal Bank of Canada Institution Code: 003 Transit Number: 5452 Account Number: 1008507 Swift: ROYCCAT2.
Remember, that the persecuted Christians are dying every day, but they are still smiling. They are in a very deep dark night, but they have the candle of the Lord. The enemy can have a very strong weapon and a very strong army, but we have the Lord Almighty.
"They can kill the dreamer, but they cannot kill the dream" in the Lord’s name.
Be with God and may God be with you.
One Free World International El Shafie Ministries
His Excellency Mian Gul Akbar Zeb High Commissioner of Pakistan to Canada 10 Range Road Ottawa, ON K1N 8J3 Tel.: (613) 238-7881; Fax: (613) 238-7296 Email: email@example.com
In the United States:
His Excellency Ambassador Husain Haqqani Embassy of Pakistan 3517 International Court NW Washington, DC 20008 Tel.: (202) 243-6500; Fax: (202) 686-1534 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org