Two Christians shot dead in Pakistan over land dispute

Two Christians shot dead in Pakistan over land dispute

Two Christians have been gunned down in Pakistan.

Yaqoob Masih and his brother, Haroon Masih, were shot and killed in the Okara District on 8th October. 

According to International Christian Concern (ICC), the pair were shot dead by a group of Muslims over a property dispute that turned religious.

“A Muslim family had religious hatred against us and other Christians living in the village,” eyewitness Indriyas Masih told ICC. 

“They never like the development of Christians in the village and therefore opposed us in getting a contract for a piece of land for cultivation.”

Indriyas said that the local Islamic community were unhappy that the Christians had applied to lease six acres of land for cultivation. After several months of objections and arguments, local authorities awarded the lease of the land to the Christians.

“On the incident day, five of us went to the agricultural fields for irrigation work when a mob of over two dozen armed men attacked,” Indriyas added. “The attack resulted in the killing of Yaqoob and Haroon.”

Indriyas said that members of the mob had shouted anti-Christian slogans as they opened fire.

A First Information Report on the incident has been filed with police and local Christians are now hoping the attackers will be brought to justice for the slayings. 

ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia William Stark said ICC was "deeply saddened" by the murders and called on the government to do more to protect the Christian minority. 

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families," Stark said. "We are also troubled by yet another incident of deadly violence motivated by the widespread intolerance that exists against Christians in Pakistan."

He added: "Pakistan must do more to combat the extremism and intolerance that motivates anti-Christian incidents like this.

"No one should be treated as a second-class citizen simply because of the faith they profess. In Pakistan, however, the faith you profess drastically affects how you are treated by society.”