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Pakistan to Publish Image of Prominent Christian Leader On Stamp for First Time In History

( [email protected] ) Apr 27, 2016 01:29 PM EDT
In a move that is being called a "great honor" for Christians living in the Middle East, Pakistan's government has announced that for the first time in the nation's history, the image of a Pakistani Christian leader will be published on a postage stamp.
Pakistan recently issued a commemorative postage stamp of Rs10 denomination ''Recognizing the services for Pakistan of Dewan Bahadur S.P. Singha.'' Photo Credit: Provincial Assembly of the Punjab

In a move that is being called a "great honor" for Christians living in the Middle East, Pakistan's government has announced that for the first time in the nation's history, the image of a Pakistani Christian leader will be published on a postage stamp.

According to a press release from the Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), Pakistan recently issued a commemorative postage stamp of Rs10 denomination "Recognizing the services for Pakistan of Dewan Bahadur S.P. Singha."

The release notes that Dewan Bahadur S.P. Singha is an important personality of Pakistan's history, serving as the speaker of the united Punjab. He played a vital role in Pakistan's movement, using his decisive"casting vote" in the Assembly of United Punjab in favor of Pakistan and supported the Quaid-e-Azam's vision of a separate independent country, Pakistan.

UCA News reveals that Singha operated under the assumption that Muslims, having been deprived of basic rights by the Hindu majority, would realize that deprivation gives birth to revolt and treat minorities better.

However, his optimistic expectations about the Christian minority receiving better treatment at the hands of the Muslim majority were dashed when the Muslim League "mullahs" (Islamic teachers) decided to remove a "Christian," Singha, from the speakership of Pakistan's Punjab Assembly, saying that it was only the right of any Muslim to hold such office.

Nevertheless, CLAAS refers to Singha as "one of the Christian founders of the Pakistan" who did "great services which were hardly recognized."

Nasir Saeed director of CLAAS-UK said that although the recognition is a bit late as Mr Singha died in 1948, it is never too late for him to be given the respect and honor he deserves.

"This decision of the Pakistani government is commendable. I am sure it will not just raise Pakistani Christians' morale, and make them proud, but it will go some way to restoring their trust in the government," he said.

"It also encourages and inspires them to continue working hard to play a role in Pakistan's security and prosperity, as their ancestors did," Saeed added.

Pakistan, the world's second largest Muslim country, is ranked #6 on the Open Doors 2016 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians, and has received the maximum score in the violence category.

"The level of pressure is high in all spheres of life and persecution is driven mainly by radical Islamic groups, rather than the government," reads the report.

Recently, 72 people were killed and more than 320 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a busy park in Lahore, Pakistan. The Islamic extremist group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which splintered from the Taliban, has since taken responsibility for the bombing, which took place on Easter Sunday.

In a media statement, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said that while many Muslims were killed, the suicide bomber deliberately targeted the Christian community.

Open Doors notes that though Pakistan's military announced a war against Islamic radicals, it continues a policy of distinguishing between "good" and "bad" jihadists.

Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the BPCA, said that violence against Christians in the region is "rarely investigated and highly unlikely to be met with justice."

"The usual pattern in these cases is for Christians to pay a bribe to encourage police to complete their duty of registering an investigation, and for the criminals to pay further bribes for the police to spoil the investigation."

Chowdhry said the world is ignoring the treatment of Christian women in Pakistan, where an average of two women a day disappear and are raped, sold into sexual slavery, or forced to marry Muslim men.

"Evidence exists that some rogue imams declare that such acts of conversion through violence are rewarded in heaven, what a terrifying thought," Chowdhry said.