Freedom International Email Update
Tuesday July 26, 2005
To: Friends and Supporters of Christian Freedom International
From: Jim Jacobson, President
Subject: "Truth" Needed in Pakistan
"Jesus said to the people who believed in him, 'You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'" (John 8:31-32)
Unfortunately much of the world today knows nothing of this truth and as a result knows nothing of real freedom.
This is certainly the case in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) where the provincial assembly recently passed the so-called "Hasba" or "Accountability" Act.
The Act would impose a system of severe, draconian controls on social and religious behavior similar to those under which Afghans suffered during the Taliban regime.
If confirmed as law by the provincial governor, the Act would threaten all freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief and related human rights of millions of both Muslim and non-Muslim Pakistanis.
According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, on July 14, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), an alliance of six Islamic parties that governs the NWFP, passed overwhelmingly and sent to the provincial governor legislation that would establish a system of official monitors who would enforce conformity to the MMA's view of Islamic standards of public behavior.
Offices of such monitors or "mohtasibeen" would be established at every level of administration in the NWFP with broad powers to ensure the observance of Islamic religious practices and conformity with Islamic moral values in public places.
The mohtasibeen would have quasi-judicial powers to obtain public records, to order the cooperation of other government officials, and to sentence offenders.
Decisions of the mohtasibeen would not be reviewable by any court of law.
The proposed mohtasibeen and their broad powers are akin to the brutal agents of Taliban Afghanistan's Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Suppression of Vice and of Saudi Arabia's religious police, the mutawaa.
Under these brutal systems, a Christian who shares his or her faith, or engages in public worship, can be executed.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is concerned that, as in Taliban Afghanistan and in Saudi Arabia, the result in the NWFP would be:
(1) a vaguely defined authority to punish conduct which the mohtasibeen identify as not conducive to public morality and safety and which is not reviewable by ordinary judicial authority;
(2) arbitrary and harsh punishments of both Muslims and non-Muslims for alleged infractions of public religious practice and social behavior, and
(3) restrictions that abridge universal human rights, including freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief and other applicable rules of non-discrimination. The province's women, religious reformers and dissidents, and members of religious minority communities would be at particular risk from a system designed to coerce religious and social conformity.
The imposition of such a regime in the NWFP would set an example that could be emulated elsewhere in Pakistan and beyond.
Please pray that the Accountability Act will not become the law of the land in the NWFP.
Pray for the people of the NWFP that they will know the truth and be set free.
Pray for minority Christians in the NWFP that God will protect them and deliver them from evil.
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Christian Freedom International is an interdenominational human rights organizations for religious liberty providing aid and advocacy to persecuted Christians worldwide.
July 26, 2005