Christians, Hindus, Sikhs forced to flee Swat: Catholic Church

April 25th, 2009 - 7:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) The minorities in Pakistan’s Swat Valley have been forced to flee as the Taliban have imposed a tax on non-Muslims, Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (PCBC) president Archbishop Lawrence John Saldanha has said, urging the Pakistani president and prime minister to intervene.
Expressing concern over the government’s move to allow the imposition of Sharia laws in parts of the North West Frontier Province, the archbishop said in his letter to the Pakistani leaders: “We note with sorrow that your government has failed to take stock of the concerns of civil society in Pakistan in your decision.

“Christian, Hindu and Sikh families have been forced to flee because the Taliban imposed on them Jizia, a tax levied on non-Muslims living under Islamic rule,” he said.

The archbishop’s letter was released here by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI).

After parliament had approved the measure, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari April 13 signed the notification for enforcing Sharia laws in Swat and six other districts of the NWFP that are collectively known as the Malakand division.

“Besides jeopardising the socio-economic and cultural growth in Swat and Malakand, the decision has also given legal sanction to the diktats of the trigger-happy Taliban,” the archbishop’s letter said.

The resolution “erodes constitutional protections for minorities and women,” Saldanha, who is the archbishop of Lahore, said in the letter.

“Now minority communities in the province are forced to endure unemployment, intimidation and migration,” the letter noted.

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