11/17/2011, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Karachi: Protestant clergyman killed in extremist ambush

by Jibran Khan
From Quetta, Jameel Sawan was an aide to Saleem Khurshid Khokhar, a member of the Sindh provincial legislature and head of the local APMA branch. In the past, the two men had been the object of threats from Muslim fundamentalists. Christian political leader demands “justice” for the clergyman and “security” for those who fight for minorities.
Karachi (AsiaNews) – Rev Jameel Sawan, from Quetta, was gunned down in Karachi in what appears to be an ambush. The Protestant clergyman was a close aide to Saleem Khurshid Khokhar, president of the Sindh branch of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) as well as a Sindh provincial lawmaker who sat in the assembly’s standing committee for minorities.

Both men had received death threats because of their fight for minority rights and support for the policies undertaken by Shahbaz Bhatti. Pakistan’s late Minorities minister who was slain on 2 March.

Despite the threats, the authorities and law enforcement had failed to provide the two men with protection and a police escort. Now investigators have to determine whether the murder was motivated by religion or personal disputes.

Yesterday, Rev Sawan was coming home from a prayer service. He was stopped by three armed men in the town of Aziz. After talking to him, they opened fire killing him on the spot.

The assassination of the Christian clergyman comes a few days after the killing of three Hindu doctors from Shikarpur and the abduction of a Hindu girl in Quetta, Balochistan.

Karachi police has opened an investigation into the incident, but few hope to see the perpetrators and those who sent them brought before the justice system.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Khalid Gill, a leading APMA member, slammed the murder, demanding “justice for Rev Sawan”. He also said that “activists for minority rights in Pakistan” should be protected.

In addition, he called on Sindh’s chief minister to give Saleem Khurshid Khokhar a police escort. “The matter will be raised today in the provincial assembly,” he noted.
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