ASIA/PAKISTAN - Catholics protest to regain land seized by the government

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – The issue concerning land and the St. Francis school in Lahore is an open wound: this is why on Sunday, June 15 more than 1,500 Catholics, including men, women, priests, religious, children, young people staged a massive demonstration to protest against the illegal seizure of land, provided for by the Government of Punjab. The Archbishop of Lahore, Sebastian Shaw led the demonstrators, along with other leaders of Christian communities.
This property which is being disputed is where the St. Francis School was built, in the area of Anarkali, in Lahore. The seizure is the focus of an intricate story where there are the interests of politicians, shady plots and real estate speculation that have stolen ten large properties belonging to Christians, such as churches, schools, cemeteries and hospitals in Punjab. A week ago Archbishop Shaw went to yet another meeting with the local authorities to demand the return of land. Archbishop Shaw had received a promise never kept, even by the the Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif.
As the local Church tells Fides, the response of civil authorities was not positive, so the Catholic community demonstrated its anger and disappointment regarding an unlawful seizure that deprives Christians of a property which is useful for social and educational services. In a note sent to Fides, Fr. Andrew Nisari, Vicar General of Lahore, said that "Christians played a leading role in the management of schools after the costitution of Pakistan in 1947: the majority of the Pakistani political leadership has acquired education from these institutes. Despite the valuable contributions offered, the Church today is still denied of its right". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 17/06/2014)