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.

An 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 withFood 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┬átheir 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 us. So we work for our local partners, and often times in the community you can’t even tell who our staff is because they live very incarnationally. I think our biggest security measure is to try to blend in and 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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