PAKISTAN – Nadeem Joseph’s family awaits justice

Sabaat | Kashif Nawab | September 21, 2020

Nadeem Joseph died after being shot injured along with some family members in June this year in an apparent neighbourhood confrontation, even though the incident reeks of religious hatred following the settling in of a Christian family in a Muslim-majority locality.

Despite the hardships following the brutal incident, Nadeem’s wife, Shaheen, is standing tall and pursuing the case in court. The family hopes they can get justice.

However, surviving after having lost the family’s sole bread-earner is not easy. Even though the provincial government disbursed a one-time grant of Rs500,000 to the family, it is not going to last them long.

Abdesh Nadeem, one of the two teenage sons, said his mother is suffering from immense mental stress. To add to the economic and physical pressures, the family claims to be receiving threats to their lives on behalf of the accused, who were arrested recently after having secured bail-before-arrest earlier. The family claims they should not only be granted further monetary assistance but also protection so they can pursue the case in court.

While the police and judiciary seem to be turning a blind eye to the transgressions of the accused, the Christian community has come to the Joseph family’s aid.

Minorities’ Member National Assembly (MNA) James Iqbal had financially assisted Nadeem while he was in hospital while Jamshed Thomas, another MNA from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, had raised the issue in the assembly. Similarly, Senator Kamran Michael also highlighted the matter in the Upper House of Parliament. Moreover, Nadeem’s case garnered support from Christians and rights activists across the world. The family’s lawyer is also a Christian contesting the case free-of-charge.

Qamar Naseem, a Peshawar-based human rights activist, regretted the incident, saying it shows how difficult, if not impossible, it is for minorities to enter the mainstream. “The majority of minorities reside in slums where they are only able and expected to do low-paying jobs,” he stated, adding that those who do manage to climb the economic ladder are faced with issues of residence and schooling as they are not welcome in Muslim neighbourhoods.

“We have been told that it [Nadeem Joseph’s killing] was a result of a dispute caused by use of silencer-less motorcycle by Joseph’s son,” said prominent human rights lawyer Asad Jamal, adding that, “Be that as it may, it’s a fact that Christians in Pakistan are systematically discriminated against at multiple social and political levels.”