Pakistan: Disputed land: ‘Eid prayer hall yes, but no church on community land’

A group of local Muslims on Sunday razed an under construction church in Chak 3/4-L, Okara, allegedly over political rivalry, The Express Tribune has learnt.

The Christians of Chak 3/4-L, Okara, had started the construction of a church on, what they claimed was their own land. They had erected a wall and installed a cross on it and engraved some Biblical verses.

On Sunday, around 20 people, all of them Muslim, demolished the construction using a tractor. They pulled down the cross and ploughed the land.

Javed Iqbal Masih, a resident of the area, told The Express Tribune that the Christians had tried to convince the group, backed by Pakistan Peoples Party’s Mehar Abdul Sattar, not to disgrace the cross and interfere with the construction of the Church but they did not listen.

Iqbal said this was Sattar’s way of punishing the community for not voting for him in the May elections and preferring a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz candidate over him. He said two months ago, Sattar had tried to stop them from constructing churches in Chak 4/4 and Chak 12/4 as well.
Sattar said they (the group of Muslims) had also built an Eid Gah (a place to offer Eid prayers) on another piece of disputed land so that no one could claim ownership to it.

When asked why the Muslims could build an Eid Gah on community land but Christians couldn’t, Sattar said, they could build a community centre if they wished, but could not construct a church.