Christian homes in Pakistan hit with gunshot, fuel bombs

By Christian Daily International / Morning Star News |
Bishop Abraham Daniel prays for victims of Feb. 12 attack in Sawihal District, Pakistan.
Bishop Abraham Daniel prays for victims of Feb. 12 attack in Sawihal District, Pakistan. | (Christian Daily International-Morning Star News)

Muslims fired gunshots and threw fuel bombs at the homes of Christians in a village in Pakistan at 2 a.m. on Monday (Feb. 12) for supporting an opposing political party in last week’s elections, sources said.

No one was hurt in the attacks in Chak 6/11-L village in Sahiwal District, Punjab Province, by area Muslims also upset about Christians constructing a church building, residents said.

More than 20 armed men led by Imran Yousaf, also known as Mana, attacked three houses of related Christians, said Arshad Masih.

“They threw petrol bombs at our homes and fired gunshots on the gates, damaging property worth hundreds of thousands of Pakistani rupees,” Masih, who has filed charges, told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News. “Fortunately, no one was killed or injured in the attack.”

While an area clergyman said the assailants were upset at the Christians’ support of a candidate of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in the Feb. 8 national elections,Masih said the suspects also nurtured a grudge over the church building.

“Ever since my family built the church two years ago, these men have been trying to pick fights with us,” Masih said. “They call us ‘Chuhras’ [a pejorative term used for Christians] and are always finding ways to pressure us into closing the church.”

He was sleeping in the house of his brother, the Rev. Hashmat Masih, pastor of the church, when the assailants threw fuel bombs into it, with several valuables damaged by fire, he said.

“The assailants also fired bullets at the house, some of which pierced the metal gate but did not cause any injury to us,” Arshad Masih said. “The assailants then went to the house of my paternal cousin, Tahir Masih, who is an elder of the church. They threw petrol bombs inside his house which burned his loader rickshaw – his source of livelihood – and other belongings.”

After attacking Tahir Masih’s house, the Muslims opened fire on the house of Arshad Masih’s brother, Shaukat Masih, on the same street.

“Luckily, no one in the family was injured as they had hidden themselves inside the house,” Arshad Masih said.

The timely arrival of police forced the assailants to flee, keeping them from harming the Christians, he said, adding that officers have yet to make any arrests.

Bishop Abraham Daniel of Sahiwal Baptist Church said more than 100 Christian families live in the village.

“Tension already existed between the Christians and Muslims over the construction of the church,” Daniel told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News. “This incident occurred due to the Christians’ support for the candidate of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The assailants are affiliated with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), whose candidate won the election from that constituency.”

Daniel said that he helped the attacked families register the case against the assailants, who have sought to appease them with an informal “reconciliation” agreement.

“However, we have made it clear that reconciliation will only take place if they give written guarantees that no Christian will henceforth be targeted by them,” he said.

At the same time, such a settlement would be more viable than prosecution, he said.

“Christians have been living in that village for over seven decades, and relocating them to some other area is not possible,” Daniel said. “I think we should negotiate a lasting agreement for our people, as both communities have to live together, and Christians are not in a position to engage in long-drawn cases or enmity with the Muslims.”

Tensions in the village were under control, and there was no immediate threat to area Christians, he said.

“We are in contact with the senior police officials, and we hope they will ensure the protection of our people,” he said. 

Pakistan ranked seventh on Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List of the most difficult places to be a Christian, as it was the previous year.