A Muslim mafia in Pakistan has illegally seized control over a Christian cemetery and sold it to a construction company:
A group of more than 100 Christians protest against the occupation of a cemetery belonging to the local Church. At the cry of “Down with the government of Punjab” and “Down with the invasion of the mafia”, on 10 April the protesters blocked the road in front of the Lahore Press Club for more than two hours. The protest was organized by the active Committee of the Gora Qabrastan (Gqac) cemetery, which opposes the misappropriation of the ancient Christian burial place in the heart of the provincial capital.
In the last two years the committee has repeatedly requested the eviction of the family of Munawar, the retired guardian of the cemetery, which occupies three residential buildings located within the land, for an extension of about 500 square meters. For AsiaNews Khalid Shahzad, vice chancellor of Gqad, she complains that “the family is trying to sell homes with false documents. Both the Catholic and Protestant bishops sent the former doorman the notification of eviction, but they refuse to leave. We have organized innumerable meetings with district officials, but our complaints remain buried under the bribes “. In August 2017, the Supreme Court of Pakistan “expressed its displeasure” to human rights groups with “the order to submit a report within two weeks”.
The fraudulent invasion of land owned by the Church is not new in the country. At least three cemeteries are illegally occupied in the archdiocese of Lahore alone. According to the Zameen.com website , in Pakistan the real estate market is growing and house prices have more than doubled in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. In 2012, the Lahore Development Authority razed more than 8 thousand square meters of buildings housing the “Gosh and Aman” missionary institute, a chapel, a Caritas laboratory and other buildings where social organizations of the Catholic Church operated.
In 1972 the government nationalized all Church-owned schools and universities in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh. The institutions were returned between 1985 and 1995, without offering any compensation. Several missionary schools are still under the control of the state. Azim Ilyas, a retired colonel and coordinator of the diocesan office in Lahore for the ecclesial education of Pakistan, complains: “Instead of collecting the rent for 35 years, the churches must also pay to get their schools back. Most of the funds have to be spent to renovate the dilapidated buildings, to the detriment of the quality of the education given, a much-esteemed time. The buildings still in the hands of the government have been ruined “. (source)