A peaceful afternoon in the Pahar Ganj area of Karachi, took a violent turn after a dispute between the leading Pastor of a local church, Pervaiz Gulzar’ and a radical fruit seller escalated into a horrific scene of vandalism and violence.
The dispute arose when the fruit seller positioned his cart in front of the church’s gate, located in a narrow street. This deliberate ill-conceived placement caused a significant obstruction to churchgoers, especially the women. The situation was drawing the ire of Pastor Gulzar and his congregation. The situation took a dangerous turn when it was discovered that the fruit seller was inebriated, clutching a liquor bottle. In his tipsy condition he was verbally harassing the women entering the Church.
The confrontation intensified when the son of Pastor Gulzar approached the fruit seller, politely requesting him to relocate his cart and not to drink in front of Church. However, the response was far from civil, as the fruit seller responded with verbal abuse and aggression. Sensing the need for intervention, Pastor Gulzar stepped in to defuse the escalating situation.
As the pastor attempted to mediate, a crowd of local residents gathered, siding against the belligerent fruit seller, placing blame squarely on his shoulders. While the situation momentarily appeared to de-escalate, it was far from over. In a shocking turn of events, the inebriated fruit seller returned with reinforcements, a group of individuals armed with knives, rods, and a gun.
The appearance of these armed aggressors sent the gathered crowd fleeing into their homes, leaving Pastor Gulzar and a church member isolated and vulnerable. With violence erupting, the attackers assaulted both individuals with the ruthless use of rods and knives, causing them internal and external injuries along with mental trauma. The assailants then, in search of the Pastor’s son enter the church premises. The Pastoral residential area came after the Church. The fanatic crowd entered the church disrespectfully and vandalized the valuable possessions of the church.
Pastor sensibly, contacted the political and area elders to ensure the safety of his family, church and congregation. Due to the timely intervention of Christian political leaders, local elders, and the area’s Nazim, the situation was brought under control. Through their efforts, the attackers were held responsible for their actions, with community leaders and authorities acknowledging their wrongdoing in the entire situation.
Despite the police offering Pastor Pervaiz Gulzar the opportunity to lodge a formal complaint and take action against the attackers, but he chose to demonstrate an exceptional act of forgiveness, opting to forgive the assailants for the sake of community harmony.
In the aftermath, Pastor Gulzar raised concerns about the prevalent issues of drug dealing and illegal possession of weapons by suspected individuals in the area. He urged the authorities to take notice of these alarming trends, emphasizing the threat they pose to the vulnerable community.
In a stern condemnation, Human Rights Defender Jansen Joseph expressed grave concerns regarding the safety of minority communities, particularly Christians residing in non-Christian majority areas. Joseph pointed to the escalating intolerance and lack of acceptance in society, emphasizing the need for heightened vigilance.
Drawing attention to the delayed police response during the incident, Joseph highlighted that a timely intervention could have mitigated the extent of the damage, potentially bolstering public trust in the state’s ability to ensure security. This incident underscores broader issues surrounding the safety and well-being of minority groups, prompting calls for urgent attention and proactive measures to address the growing challenges faced by these communities.
Jansen Joseph also emphasized that the constitution of Pakistan guarantees fundamental rights to religious minorities, allowing them the freedom to practice their faith. He underscored the constitutional assurance of safety for places of worship belonging to minority communities. In light of recent attacks, he stressed the imperative for the state to enforce stringent penalties against perpetrators and vandals, ensuring that such incidents do not undermine the constitutionally granted rights and protections.
Moreover, Jansen Joseph urged authorities to establish a monitoring mechanism on the drug sellers in public colonies, emphasizing the critical need to curb drug consumption that poses a threat to the youth. He also stressed the urgency of controlling the illegal display of weapons in public, which he argued is often used to intimidate and harassing the weaker and marginalized communities.
Women’s Rights Activist Shireen Aslam, in response to the recent incident, emphasized the crucial need for peace and harmony among diverse communities. She underscored the importance of proactive measures against illegal activities that pose a threat to residents’ safety.
Aslam stressed the significance of unity and harmony among people of different religions, attributing such incidents to social misunderstandings within diverse groups. Commending Pastor Pervaiz’s act of forgiveness, she labeled it as a significant effort toward fostering peace and harmony in society.
Furthermore, Aslam called for collective efforts from all citizens to establish a secure and tolerant environment for everyone in the country.