Plans to demolish a Christian-majority slum “to protect the beauty of Islam” in Pakistan’s capital were put on hold after a stay-order was issued by the Supreme Court.
The Capital Development Authority (CDA) of Islamabad has been on a demolition spree since 2014 targeting illegal slums, some of which – according to the organisation – sheltered Afghan “terrorists” and were breeding grounds for criminal activity.
However, the Supreme Court ordered a written justification from the CDA ahead of its next planned demolition.
In the CDA’s reply to to the Court, they stated: “Most of these katchi abadies [slums] are under the occupation of the Christian community. It seems this pace of occupation of land by Christian community may increase. Removal of katchi abadies is very urgent to provide [a] better environment to the citizen[s] of Islamabad and to protect the beauty of Islam.”
The statement added that “shelter is the right of each citizen, but it is also a fact that Islamabad can not accommodate the migrants from all over the country”.
According to an activist and political party worker protesting the demolitions in Islamabad, accusing slum-dwellers of wrongdoing is a ploy by the development authority to make it “easier for them to acquire the land they are after.”
Ammar Rashid, secretary of the Awami Workers Party, told Al Jazeera: “The comments show the disgusting mindset that the CDA has. The CDA wants to acquire the lucrative bit of land and – after playing the terrorism card earlier this year – they are now using religious grounds to get what they want. They want to kill two birds with one stone.”
“If the demolition goes ahead, it will be a human catastrophe. The CDA is not in a position to be taking decisions about the religious demography of the capital.”
The CDA refused to comment on its reply and instead said the organisation enjoyed good relations with the Christian community.
Christians form about two percent of Pakistan’s population, and are regularly targeted because of their religion.
- Pray for Christians in Pakistan, many of whom have low paying sanitation jobs and are seen as unclean by the Muslim community because of this. Pray for protection for their homes and families, and from those who seek to exploit their situation for their own gain.
- Pray for the families in the Christian slums of Islamabad. Pray that the Supreme Court will order the demolitions to be stopped and put in place measures to protect the families and their homes.
- Pray for the Pakistani Church as it copes with increased pressure against it. Pray that Christians will not lose heart, but rather that their faith and witness will be strengthened.
Psalm 82 vs 3: “Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.”