ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (ANS) — Christians and Muslims held a joint protest demonstration on Sunday, March 17 to condemn the rape of a Pakistani Christian woman. The protestors expressed their outrage over the failure of the Pakistani authorities to deliver justice for the victim, Saima Iqbal, who was abducted last month and was subsequently allegedly tortured, raped and forced to convert to Islam.
Saima Iqbal, 35, was allegedly abducted by Khalid Sati on the evening of February 25, when Naveed Iqbal, her husband, had gone to work on the night shift in a call centre. On his return, Naveed Iqbal found his wife was missing.
A complaint was lodged in police station Khanna pul on February 26. The police did not register the FIR until March 1 after Mr Iqbal threatened the police that he would set himself on fire. The police recovered Saima Iqbal from the custody of the accused on March 5. Naveed Iqbal, however, learned from the police that his wife had converted to Islam and had married the accused.
“My wife has been raped and forced to convert to Islam and marry the accused,” Naveed Iqbal told Sheraz Khan, Founder and Chief Executive of International Minorities Concern, a UK-based advocacy group for minority rights.
Naveed Iqbal shared the ordeal his wife went through by uploading a video message on social media. A day after the video went viral Naveed Iqbal managed to rescue his wife from a government-run shelter for women.
In a second video message, Saima Iqbal and Naveed Iqbal made a joint appeal to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to intervene in their case so they could get justice.
Local Christians and Muslims staged the protest demonstration on Sunday to appeal to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Chief Justice of Pakistan to grant justice for Saima Iqbal. Christian and Muslim leaders expressed their dismay at the continuing indifference of the authorities in the case and called for Saima Iqbal to receive justice.
Naveed Iqbal said in a message to Sheraz Khan, Chief Executive of International Minorities Concern, “I would like to ask Christian husbands around the world: How would you feel if you were in my shoes? I am sure you would feel as powerless as I do. I am certain you would feel as humiliated as I do. I am positive you would feel as helpless as I do. I urge Christian men and women around the world to help me get out of this. I love my wife. We have been married for 15 years.” He called on Christians and Muslims to jointly condemn what happened to his wife.
“I would like you to help me in any way, shape, and form. Is it my fault that I am a Christian who loves his wife who loves me too? This is impacting negatively on my children. What is their fault? Please help me and my wife in the name of Jesus Christ,” said Naveed.
Naveed in his message added: “I have had offers from some people, who said, they could give us shelter. I don’t know what I do. I don’t know who to trust. Saima is still not herself. She doesn’t come across as the person I have known all these years. This is because of the pain, the torture and the suffering she has had to go through.
“Saima urgently needs psychotherapy. She needs counseling. She is probably suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I do not have resources to get her the psychiatric treatment she needs,” Naveed said.
Sheraz Khan, Chief Executive of International Minorities Concern, criticized Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government for having failed to deliver justice for Saima Iqbal.
“Imran Khan came to power on the promise that he would turn Pakistan into a country where the poor will get justice, where minorities will get their equal rights. Imran Khan cited numerous examples of freedom, equality, justice, and fairness in the West and promised the people of Pakistan, including its minority citizens, that justice and fair play will reign if he is given a chance to rule the country.”
Khan asked the Pakistani Prime Minister: ”Would a western democratic government have taken as long as your government has taken to give justice to Saima Iqbal?”
Khan added: “Sadly, not much has changed from a minority citizen’s standpoint. Poor Christian women like Saima Iqbal continue to suffer. Asia Bibi of Pakistan is being held in Pakistan without any moral or legal justification despite her acquittal by Pakistan’s top court.
He asked: “When will the Christians and other minorities of Pakistan be given their equal rights?”
Khan urged the international community to use its influence in Pakistan “so that it takes concrete measures to give protection to the lives and the properties of Christians and the rest of its minority citizens.”
If you would like to know more about the persecuted Church in Pakistan or would like to know more about the situation faced by minorities in Pakistan, contact Sheraz Khan by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org