2023 Victories for ACLJ's Affiliate in Pakistan
As we begin the new year, let us share with you some victories that our affiliate office, the Organization for Legal Aid (OLA), has been able to secure for persecuted Christians in Pakistan.
We began our work about 14 years ago and soon received a case that has been going on since then. In Samuel Masih v. Niaz Ahmed Jutt, Jutt had fraudulently transferred a Christian family’s 12.5 acres of agricultural land to his sons by illegally using a power of attorney for his own benefit. In 2021, we were able to obtain a favorable decision for the Christian family. Jutt appealed. In October 2023, the appellate court upheld the trial court’s decision that Jutt had unlawfully transferred the ownership of the land. Our team is now applying to enforce that judgment for the Masih family to take possession of the land.
In State v. Muhammad Abbas, we prosecuted Muhammad Abbas in 2019, and he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for sexually abusing a 3-year-old Christian girl. Abbas had appealed the decision to the Lahore High Court. In late May of this year, the High Court heard arguments and dismissed Abbas’ appeal, upholding the conviction.
In Yasir Masih v. Station House Officer, we secured a victory for a Christian man who was threatened by his ex-wife and her paramour to convert to Islam. Leaving her two children, the wife eloped with a Muslim man and converted to Islam. Then they wanted the Christian man and his two children to become Muslims. A group of men beat Yasir and his daughter and threatened him, demanding he reject Christianity. We sent applications to about 18 officials, seeking protection for Yasir. Eventually, the court ordered the police to provide protection for Yasir and his children. The group that was threatening Yasir was called to the police station and ordered not to harass him.
In State v. Khurram Shahzad, the OLA won the case for a 19-year-old Christian man and his two minor siblings against Khurram Shahzad, a man who murdered their mom and buried her body in an empty plot of land near his house. The Christian mom was coming home with Shahzad, the driver of her employer, after she had received $1,000, a salary of three months’ work. The driver robbed her of the money and killed her. In October 2022, her son came to our office and asked for help. Our lawyers represented him; and in March 2023, the trial court sentenced Shahzad to life in prison.
In another case, State v. Khalil Ahmed, a 5-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by Khalil Ahmed in 2018. Like the case mentioned above, we also won this case at the trial court. Ahmed was sentenced to life imprisonment. His case came up on appeal this May. Our attorneys argued the case at the Lahore High Court and the court upheld his conviction.
In a similar case, Abdul Waleed v. Ramish Masih, a few Muslim boys beat up a Christian boy after he had told his employer that one of the Muslim boys (who was also his co-worker) was stealing from the employer. Our team got involved and helped the parties reconcile and settle out of court.
Assault and murder in land grab cases are not uncommon in Pakistan. In Munir Shahzad v. Wali Khan, our client’s son was murdered by two Muslim men, Wali Khan and Adam Khan, over a land dispute. The Khans wanted to illegally occupy Shahzad’s land and attacked the Christian family. During the fight, they hit Munir Shahzad’s son with a brick on the back of his head. Shahzad’s son died. The Khans applied for bail in July 2023. After hearing the argument presented by our lawyers opposing the bail, the court dismissed the Khans’ application. After trying at the lower court, the Khans applied for bail at the High Court, which was also denied. Our team continues to represent the Christian family and is preparing for trial.
In another land dispute case, State v Faisal Bashir, a Muslim family attacked Saleem Jamal and his two sons, Sunil Saleem and Anil Saleem, and stabbed them multiple times when the Christian family stopped them from illegally building a wall around their land in order to adjoin it to their property. One of the four defendants is in prison, and the others are fugitives. Faisal Bashir applied for bail, which our team opposed, and the court denied him bail. The trial is ongoing.
These are just a few examples of victories from the many cases the OLA is fighting. We hope that this provides a picture of the scale of work that the ACLJ is engaged in around the world. We hope to have good outcomes next year in the cases that are still ongoing. Happy New Year from our team in Pakistan.