Pope and President Focus on Violence Against Pakistan's Christians
01 Oct 09 - RV) The need to overcome all forms of discrimination based on religion
emerged from meetings between the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, and Pope
Benedict XVI Thursday in Castel Gandolfo. The Pakistani Leader met with the Pope
and Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as part of his European Tour.
Vatican Press Office statement released shortly after the encounter says that the
Pope Benedict and President Zardari spoke of recent episodes of violence against Christian
communities and the elements that have favoured such serious incidents. They also
discussed the aim of promoting respect for the rights of all citizens of Pakistan.
deadliest of these recent attacks saw 8 Christians burned alive in Gorja Punjab, including
women and children last August.
The same argument was also addressed by Zardari
in his talks with Italian politicians, in which the Pakistani president said the government
of his country will take steps against the abuse of an infamous blasphemy law. Human
rights organizations say the law, created to defend against offenses against Islam,
has become an instrument of discrimination and predatory violence.
Thursday in Islamabad the Christian Council of Pakistan launched an All Parties Conference
to coordinate the efforts of all Christian groups who are calling for the abolition
of the law. The conference will be held simultaneously in Karachi, Lahore and
Islamabad on October 24th.