Young Pakistani Catholic in critical condition after assault

A young Catholic man who was attacked and reportedly left for dead is in critical condition in a hospital in northeastern Pakistan.

AsiaNews reports that Shahbaz Masih, 24, was attacked on Saturday. His assailants, allegedly by young Muslim men from his village, left him in a field, thinking he was dead. Both his legs were broken, but he survived and was taken to the public hospital in Mandi Bahaud Din. Shahbaz lives in Mandi Bahaud Din district, 175 kilometers south of Islamabad.

Fr Rehmat Hakim, the local parish priest, said that 20-25 Christian families live in the predominantly Muslim village. They own houses but do not have land for cultivation, so they earn their living mainly as agricultural workers for Muslim landlords.

Shahbaz drove a tractor for a Muslim landlord who was very kind to the young man, which Fr Hakim said did not go well with some Muslims who want Christians to remain subservient and dependent.

This same group, he continued, is unhappy that Christians attend school and do well in their studies.

"Last year one boy got a mark of 70% in the matriculation examination, while another was first in computer science at the local university," he noted.

According to local Christians, some months ago the local Muslim religious leader announced through the mosque loudspeaker that if Christian boys get educated, there will be no workers left to till the land.

Christians in the village are fearful of another attack. The Minority Rights Commission of Pakistan, a private organisation, has condemned the attack on Shahbaz and demanded that the government immediately arrest the culprits

Young Catholic In Critical Condition After Attack (AsiaNews.it 26/4/05)

Pakistan Catholic Commission worried about threat to family (CathNews 4/11/04)
Pakistan Archbishop alarmed by decline in religious freedom (CathNews 15/7/04)

27 Apr 2005