Guest Blog by Silence from Islamabad Observer
Religion is basically meant to be personal belief of a person or group of people. It is outrageous, shameful and downright arrogant of the religious groups to use religion as a source of profits. However since the times immortal, criminals, religious clerics, land grabbers and even power hungry kings and democratic leaders have been using religion as a source of exploitation and profiting. “Crusade” of George W Bush in name of ‘war on terror’ and killing of innocent women and children by ‘Taliban’s’ in name of Islam are two sides of same coin. The basic goal is to exploit sentiments of religious groups for personal gains.
Religion is also a favorite tool of criminals and land grabbing mafias. The bloody episode of ‘Red Mosque’ in Islamabad, we witnessed recently, is not the only example. In every city and town, criminal gangs have occupied public or private land; they would build a ‘mosque’ on it and sell the adjoining lands for commercial or residential purposes. Even green belts, public parks and educational institutional institutions are not safe from these gangs. Whenever government authorities want to evict these gangs and demolish the illegal buildings, it would become a religious issue. If authorities demolish the illegally built mosque, it will bring a religious and political storm. The illegal mosques built on public lands in Islamabad were saved from being demolished by countrywide protests leading to interference of ‘Imam-i-Kaba’.
Criminals in minorities in Pakistan of today are no longer a quiet, subservient bunch and no longer behind the Muslim clerics in ‘land grabbing’ business. There have been several deaths over ‘possession’ disputes of ‘profitable’ churches in past. Several illegal minority housings (katchi-abadi) has been set up on public and private lands and sold by these criminal gangs. If government authorities want to take action against these illegal deviling, the illegally built ‘Church’ in middle of such illegally occupied land is always there to protect the illegal occupations. Demolishing an illegally built church will not only result in an international outcry of ‘discrimination’ against minorities but would also be followed by a ‘protest note’ from ‘White House’ and ‘Vatican City’.
Islamabad ‘Water and Sanitation Authority’ (WASA) is the latest victim of ‘land grabbing gang’, operating in name of Christian minority. According to an application for police assistance of Managing Director of WASA Islamabad, a piece of land measuring 20 acres worth more the 10 billion rupees, adjoining ‘Rawal Lake’ was reserved for building 6 water storage tanks. Funds of Rs. 5807 million has been allocated for construction of water storage facility. However a ‘land grab gang’ of Christian minority has over night started construction of a ‘Church’ in middle of the said land and rest has been converted to a ‘katchi-abadi’ of Christian minority. When WASA officials and contractor tried to clear the land reserved for water storage by Capital Development Authority (CDA), they were met by shooting from the occupying gang. The WASA authorities and contractor are requesting for police help to clear the site to start construction work.
According to WASA a gang tried to occupy the same land back in year 1996 and was dispossessed with help of local police. This time it’s not only the illegal occupant gang but a ‘Church’ stands in middle of land to protect their illegal possession. Will police and WASA be able to demolish the so called illegal ‘Church’ under construction and clear the site is difficult to answer. What we can be sure of is; cries of discrimination against minorities, candle light protests, street demonstrations, and condemnations from entire ‘Christian World’, in case, the illegal ‘church’ is demolished. Even, on his next visit to ‘West’, Prime Minister Gillani would have to answer the media questions about unfair treatment of religious minorities in Pakistan. Print and electronic media will have an issue for headlines and NGO’s will have a party on ‘treatment of minorities’ in Pakistan. We can expect to witness another ‘Red Mosque’ stage and on ‘international pressure’, obviously, government would not only have to hand over the said land to gang but also would re-construct the illegal ‘Church’ with public funds.
Millions in Islamabad would be deprived of clean drinking water. But it is no more about water; it is certainly about protecting ‘minority religious sites’. While Mullah’s get away with land worth billions, in mane of Mosques every year, why minority ‘Priests’ should not profit from ‘business of religion’ in name of ‘Church’. All Pakistanis are equal that all our forefathers had toiled and bled for our nation and therefore enjoying equitable rights and opportunities. Let us not be left behind in destroying this country!