A young Pakistani Christian woman who travelled to Australia for surgery, after she was seriously injured in a twin suicide bombing at her church in Peshawar in 2013, says that three years on “countries in the West still fail to recognise the persecution of Christians in Pakistan”.
Kashmala Munawar was 17 years old when the Anglican All Saints Church in Pakistan’s north-west was attacked by Islamists on a Sunday morning in September 2013. At least 80 people were killed in what was then described as the deadliest attack ever against Pakistani Christians.
Munawar had to have her right leg amputated after the attack, while her left leg was left shattered. In early 2014, the Australian Association of Pakistani Christians brought her to Melbourne, Australia, for treatment, where, with the help of another charity, Children First Foundation, she learned to walk again.
Three years on, she told Pakistan Christian Post that in some ways she is “grateful” for what happened to her. “If It were not for the losing of a leg I would never have escaped the crazy unprovoked hatred in Pakistan,” she said. “In some ways I am grateful that God took my leg, as it has given me a freedom that I could never have imagined, had I still had my leg.”
She said the Christian community in Peshawar lives in constant fear of “being attacked by Muslim neighbours, a police force who don’t want to help us but actually enjoy arresting us, schools in which we are bullied and treated as pariahs”, and of “being caught up in blasphemy allegations”.
She says it’s time for Western countries to start recognising the persecution of Christians in Pakistan, saying that when Pakistanis flee to the West, they are “told they should just give up their property and lives to jealous Muslims and simply move to another city. Yet even those who flee from one city to the next inevitably find themselves persecuted again”.
One of the hardest things for her, she says, was when after four months in Australia, her mother, who had come with her, was sent back to Pakistan because her daughter had reached adulthood. She says it left her alone and isolated, especially when she was told it was better for her to stay in Australia once she had recovered because the type of care that she might need in the future is hard to find in Pakistan.
She has now enrolled in a social-work course and wants to get involved in humanitarian work to help Pakistani Christians back home.
To watch a short interview Munawar conducted with the Australian broadcaster SBS in 2014, click here.