Ministry team takes measures to keep doors open despite turmoil in the wake of assassination

By January 7, 2011

Pakistan (MNN) — Shockwaves are rolling throughout Pakistan
in the wake of Tuesday's assassination of Punjab's governor.

Salman Taseer was considered a critic of the country's harsh
blasphemy law. While the nation is
supposed to be observing a two-week mourning period, there are many Islamic
extremists who are praising the murder.

On open letter to Pakistan Christian Post reads in part,
"It is alarming that many people in Pakistan have sympathy with the
killer. A two-week period of mourning has been declared. Pakistan should use
that time to decide whether they are ready to fight the Mullahs responsible for
the murder, or just sit back and wait for the next period of mourning."

The message this murder sends is bleak. There are murmured concerns that it could launch a
wave of attacks against other like-minded Pakistanis or Christians. 

Peter Howard with
Food For the Hungry says they have a team in
Punjab because of a natural disaster in August. "Our partner, Interfaith League
against Poverty, is responding to the flooding there. In response, peace is of
great importance, because if our staff–which is from all the different religious groups–can work well together,
then their job and their work is much more effective on the ground, and many
more people can be helped."

Aid groups say a good part of the farmland remains
underwater. Because hundreds of
thousands of people are still in tent camps, their team isn't planning on
leaving. They have a job to do. The rising tensions  are fueling insecurity and fear.  

There are some concerns that any tie to the West would paint
a target on someone's back. Howard
says  their team is taking measures to
blend in. "We work very locally through our local Pakistani Christians and
Muslims who are people of peace and want to work alongside of us. So we work for our local partners, and often
times in the community you can't even tell who are our staff are because they
live very incarnationally. I think our biggest security measure is to try to
blend in and to try to serve."

Right now, extremists are keeping a sharp eye out for those
who might be sympathetic to Taseer or his way of thinking. A report from NEWSWEEK indicates that a
Taliban commander has gone on record saying that the blasphemy case, for which Taseer was killed, is not over,
warning that punishment will continue.

Howard says there's a greater motivation for their team to
stay put. Pray for them. The loss of a proponent of
peace is devastating; however, their relief
team is working to create a space for pursuit. "I think that as Christians respond in
a Muslim area with kindness and with compassion, we show our Muslim friends
that we are people who love God and love them. That's our desire as Christians: to show the love of God and to allow people to pursue Truth."

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