October 20, 2020
To All Concerned with Religious Freedom and Minority Rights,
Pastor Sohail, Story of Fearless Believer!!!
Pastor Sohail Latif, a Christian pastor in Karachi, Pakistan, who had been imprisoned on a false charge since May, was granted bail and returned home to his loving family on Saturday, Oct.17. We spoke with Pastor Sohail soon after he arrived home. He was upbeat and fearless, delighted to be among his loved ones. Today, we are celebrating a win for minority rights and religious freedom upon Pastor Sohail’s return back home on bail. His next hearing date has been set for November 3rd, and we are advocating that all charges (which have yet to be delineated) be dropped.
There have been 5 First Information Reports (FIRs) filed against Pastor Sohail in the past. Authorities booked him as Sohail Latif alias “Pastor” to try to label him as a common thug, rather than the upstanding Christian leader and advocate for minority rights that he is. He was accused of using the religious platform to rile the people and then booked under a “Terrorism” charge for allegedly extorting money from the community. He served almost 6 months in prison while awaiting a proper hearing, leaving his wife and 5 children vulnerable during the Covid-19 pandemic.
When arrested back in May, he pleaded with senior police officers against the predatory land grabbers for the land committed to the minority Christian community. These poor minorities simply want to reside peacefully and in harmony, but always face the threat of persecution. The accusing party turned Pastor Sohail’s advocacy for the poorest of the poor into a terrorism charge! Karachi is facing a large vacuum due to lack of strong local leadership who understand and defend the concerns of the ethnic minorities and religious communities. In the absence of local enforcement of minority rights from the federal government, located in Islamabad, the plight of human rights is at stake.
Inspired by the current United States Administration’s focus on international religious freedom and their relentless fight to release Americans wrongfully imprisoned internationally, we took that same spirit in fighting and building a strong coalition to support Pastor Sohail Latif. Since our initial ten signatures on a letter addressed to the Ambassador of Pakistan to the U.S., H.E. Majeed Khan, we have grown the coalition of supportive individuals and organizations to 137 signatures.
The actions of different members of our coalition have helped win Pastor Sohail’s release on bail:
- A Pakistan Army intelligence officer from Islamabad personally visited her, and took her statement about the atrocities done on Sohail, along with statements from fellow members of the church Sohail leads. They are investigating the issue from their end.
- The President of Pakistan American Congress, Mr. Asad Chodhary, has been vocal and supports human rights. There have been efforts to engage with imams of mosques having predominantly Pakistani American attendees.
- Nadeem Nusrat, Chairman of SAMAF and leader of the Muhajir muslims, has personally facilitated a gift of Rupees 100,000.00 ($592.00) to the welfare of Pastor Sohail’s family.
- Other organizations around the world are raising funds to support Pastor Sohail and his family and other challenges faced by the Christian community in Pakistan.
The U.S. Constitution of our great nation protects all minorities and faiths with emphasis on the rule of law and order. We all enjoy the freedom to pursue opportunities and live in harmony despite our diversity. But we have seen the zealous diaspora leaders raising millions of dollars to host visiting heads of state from the countries they have immigrated from and championing causes on their behalf on various sensitive issues. We implore these immigrants to withhold such support unless and until the rights of minorities back in their home countries are safeguarded.
We strongly believe that the time has come for all of us to be the standard bearers of American values and defenders of minority rights and religious freedom, not just in the U.S., but in all nations. There has to be accountability for basic human rights from these visiting leaders and part of all trade talks.
Our call to action to all signatories is demanding reciprocity of human dignity with basic birthright to pursue freedom of religion and speech, and equal opportunity for all without regard to ethnicity, class or religious belief. Stand with us as we continue to advocate for Pastor Sohail and all those who are victimized on the basis of their ethnicity or religious belief.
(ALL PLEASE LIST YOUR NAME, PREFERRED EMAIL and ORGANIZATION)
- Mr. Puneet Ahluwalia, Executive Director, South Asia Minorities Alliance Foundation, [email protected]
- Mr. Nadeem Nusrat, Chairman, South Asia Minorities Alliance Foundation, [email protected]
- The Honorable Tom Garrett, former U.S. Congressman, and Senior Advisor to South Asia Minorities Alliance Foundation, [email protected]
- Mrs. Cheryl McCarthy, Director of The Ananias Project (Fresh Expressions US), [email protected]
- Mrs. Jennifer Z. Noyes, Executive Director, New Wineskins Missionary Network, [email protected]
- Rev. Dr. Elijah M Brown, General Secretary, Baptist World Alliance (BWA)
- Ambassador Bob Silverman, Former President of the American Foreign Service Association and Senior Advisor to South Asia Minorities Alliance Foundation, [email protected]
- Ms. Patricia Streeter, Co-Leader, Anglican Persecuted Church Network, [email protected]
- Ms. Faith McDonnell, Co-Leader, Anglican Persecuted Church Network, and Institute for Religion & Democracy, [email protected]
- Ms. Sandra Roberts, Director of Zameiru Ministries, Missionary, New Zealand, [email protected]