An update on this story. As noted below, the idea was to limit the role of a non-Muslim official to dealing with his own minority group, segregating him from the rest of Muslim Pakistan. That imposes limitations on power, influence, and visibility, but would also make it easier to force him out due to his already marginalized status.
At least this time, efforts limit his visibility certainly backfired. “The Christian Minister presents the budget law, citing the Gospel, but radicalism is growing in Punjab,” from Fides, June 11:
Lahore (Fides Service) – The Minister for Minorities in the Province of Punjab, the Christian Kamran Michael, had the delegation for finances and yesterday presented the budget law in the Punjab Provincial Parliament. In his opening speech, the minister quoted the Gospel, so did the Muslim ministers quote the Koran in their speeches. The event was appreciated by the Christian community, given that in recent days there had been controversy and attempts to prevent a Christian minister from acting “politically ” and receiving proxies in different sectors, instead of only dealing with religious minorities . Meanwhile the Christian community in Punjab has received, however, bad news: a terrorist criminal court acquitted 70 people in Faisalabad blamed for the massacre in Gojra, a city where, in August 2009, a Christian neighborhood was attacked en masse in consequence of a false accusation of blasphemy.
The delegation assigned to Michael, however – note sources of Fides in Punjab – could be just an “alibi” or a “an apparent measure”, to show that the Punjab government gives space and respects the religious minorities. In fact, the Prime Minister of Punjab, Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, is known for his contiguity with radical Islamist groups. And the provincial government, in fact, “is not doing anything to stop the growing radicalism, especially in southern Punjab”, according to the sources of Fides.
Radical organizations outlawed as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) carry out the recruitment of young people for terrorist acts and next to them – always refer alarmed Fides sources in civil society – at least five dangerous Islamic militant organizations work undisturbed: Sipah-e- Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), Harkatul Jihadul Islami (HJI), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). The result is that four districts of South Punjab (Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan, Bahawalpur and Gojranwala) are under strong influence of terrorist groups banned by the state, which also operate in the education of children and young people through a network of madrasas, controlling at least 7,000 of them. This is evidenced by the fact that “there is a strong tendency among young people of South Punjab to join organizations that fight the ‘jihad’, or holy war, in Pakistan and outside the country: there are at least 10 thousand in the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. This situation – note the sources of Fides – also has its roots in the chronic failure of the education system of Pakistan”.