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Church Worker Freed: CEN 1.11.08 p 7. January 12, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan, Islam.
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mano-rumalshah.jpgThe General Secretary of the Diocese of Peshawar has been freed unharmed 26 days after he and his driver were seized by kidnappers along Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier.

Dr. Reginald Humayun Zaheeruddin, the Medical Superintendent of Pennell Memorial Hospital in Bannu was returning home from the town of Dera Ismail Khan when suspected Taliban militants stopped his car, taking him prisoner.

While details of the negotiations to free Dr. Zaheeruddin remain unclear, the secretary to Bishop Mano Rumalshah (pictured) of Peshawar, Mr. Yaqub Sahotara reports the bishop had been working to secure the doctor’s release.

“Thankfully [Dr. Zaheeruddin] returned home after 26 days and we breathed a sigh of relief but it has been a traumatic experience for all of us,” Mr. Sahotara said.

While always precarious, the safety of Pakistan’s Christian minority has taken a perilous turn since the Dec 27 assassination of Benazir Bhutto. “Again yesterday [Jan 6] five Christians have been kidnapped in South Waziristan area,” he told The Church of England Newspaper.

Police suspect Taliban insurgents affiliated with Baitullah Mehsud of kidnapping the five men as they were driving to Dera Ismail Khan near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. In return for freeing the five Pakistani Christians, the Taliban are demanding the release of six of Baitullah Mehsud’s lieutenants held by police.

Baitullah Mahsud has been named by the government of President Pervez Musharraf as the leader of the group that assassinated Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Benzair Bhutto.

Bishop Rafiq Masih of Hyderabad told CEN the murder of Benazir Bhutto was a “national tragedy” and “severe attack on the hope of a new democratic government.”

Christians had also come under threat in the Diocese of Hyderabad following the assassination, he reported. “Since we are serving in Sindh, which is surrounded by other small suburbs with heavy vote block of PPP, we ask your special prayers for us,” he said.

All Christians were united in “appeal and pray for the national harmony in Pakistan at this difficult time,” he said.

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