Disabled Christian murdered over unpaid loan in Pakistan
According to reports from the British Asian Christian Association (BACA), Ahsan Masih was violently confined at gunpoint in the Faisalabad region and exposed to extreme torture, including electric shocks, whippings, beatings and mutilation, which ultimately lead to his death.
Ahsan Masih had a deep bond with Shahbaz Masih, his co-worker at a local brick kiln. Ahsan took on the role of a guarantor for a loan of Rs. 400,000 (the equivalent of £1034) that Shahbaz borrowed from Muslim landlords. They informally agreed that Shahbaz would work at the landlord’s farm until the debt was repaid. Ahsan helped him in his labour on the farm, despite a physical disability, which affected his right leg. Unfortunately, he became responsible for the loan after Shahbaz became ill. The Muslim landlords began to treat him with hostility and aggression, therefore Ahsan decided to go back to his home village.
Whilst Ahsan was working on a local farm with his brother, a group of unidentified men abducted him at gunpoint. Ahsan’s brother called the police right away. However, due to the missing number plate on the kidnappers’ vehicle, the police were unable to take immediate action.
According to Ahsan’s brother, Nadeem Masih: “Some unknown men in a white Nissan Corolla car arrived in the fields where Ahsan was cutting grass for the cattle. They brandished their guns, threatening me to stay silent. Then, they forcibly seized Ahsan, pulling him into the car, and swiftly drove away.”
The Muslim landlord informed Nadeem that his brother was in his custody and would be released when Shahbaz’s debt was paid.
However, Salarwala police officers found Ahsan dead on the 1st of September.
Nadeem filed a First Information Report against the suspected assailants, who are currently being held in police custody on charges of Ahsan’s murder and abduction.
Juliet Chowdhry, trustee for British Asian Christian Association, stated: “Ahsan’s tragic fate serves as a stark reminder that while laws may exist on paper, their effectiveness depends on their robust enforcement and the broader social and economic context. Such incidents not only shock the conscience but also serve as a reminder of the urgent need for authorities to take decisive action in order to ensure justice and restore the nation’s dignity.”
Pakistan is ranked number 7 on the Open Doors’ list of countries where Christians face the most severe persecution for their faith. The British Asian Christian Association pointed to blasphemy laws, violence, kidnappings, forced marriages and forced conversion to Islam amongst the pressures Christians suffer there.