This past week we were honored to host a dinner at our home for ICV and the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) visiting from Pakistan. It was a rare privilege to be able to sit together and “pick” each other’s minds regarding the issues that Pakistani Christians in Pakistan and Canada face today, and how we can all come together to overcome those issues.
Attending on behalf of the ICV were:
- Mr. & Mrs. Peter Bhatti
- Nitasha Bhatti
- Mr. Obeid Newton
- Mr. Reuben & Mrs. Eliza Charles
- Mr. Ashleigh Francis
- Mr. Bosco Martyres
- Mr. & Mrs. Asher Khokhar
- Mrs. Jacqueline Jacob
- Mr. Khalid Gill; Chief Coordinator for APMA, Punjab
- Mr. Jaffer George; MPA Baluchistan Provincial Assembley and Member Central Executive Committee APMA
- Mr. Tahir Naveed; MPA Punjab Provincial Assembley and Member Central Executive Committee APMA
- Mr. Manzoor Khan Ghori; Coordinator for APMA, Rawalpindi-Islamabad Region
Together the APMA team took time to explain their goals, their vision, and their passion for the persecuted people of Pakistan. I learned that at the time of the creation of Pakistan, as Mr. Khalid Gill put it “Not when my grandfathers signed Pakistan into its being was it known as an Islamic Republic, but a nation free of religious obligation. Where people could practice freely, such was the vision of Quaid-e-Azam.” An interesting thought. It’s been repeated over and over by many, especially in this past year after the assassination of Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti...
Where did we go wrong?
As many of you present at the ICV community “Meet-and-Greet” event are aware of, the APMA delegation were adamant in bringing awareness to all that heard them that the only way to effectively accomplish the goals (such as the repeal of blasphemy law) was to unite together. This was the main topic in the evenings discussions at my home as well. An awesome moment was when Mr. Khalid Gill insisted that it would be better not to give anything at all with a heavy heart, but to pray wholeheartedly for the people involved in fighting against persecution; "to pray for those that are persecuted" he said, "is more valuable than any donation".
What’s the most common statement I heard that night?
Do what you can, whatever you can. But as a community we must STOP opposing each other. By creating an environment where no one is able to accomplish anything we do nothing to each other here in Canada, but for the persecuted families – OUR families, in Pakistan, it’s a deadly circle of hate that they cannot overcome on their own.
At the end of the night Nitasha and I were able to add our two cents to the discussion as well. It’s nice to see that our elders have noted the importance of filling younger generations with a heart for Pakistan. Leadership begins at home, without instilling those values in our kids they will never be able to go out into the world of politics/community and be effective leaders. Teach your kids to seek God first, and then realize that He provides the opportunities where we can really do and be our best... going backwards (opportunity then God) never works out quite as well.
More pictures and information coming soon.