Prayers asked regarding August 12 trial
Pakistani court prevents consecration of an elected Anglican bishop
SPECIAL TO THE LAMBETH DAILY
by David A. Sardar
The consecration of Pakistan's Karachi Diocese bishop-elect, the Rev Ejaz Inayat, has been restrained by the Sindh High Court (SHC), and as a result Mr Inayat was unable to attend the Lambeth Conference. Mr Inayat was duly elected as the forth Bishop of Karachi on October 1, 1997, but police were deployed outside the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Karachi on November 1 to prevent his consecration. His enthronement remains on hold under the SHC orders and Mr Inayat is forbidden to conduct religious ceremonies or take part in his administrative duties in the diocese.
The SHC's intervention in church affairs was instigated by a civil suit (No. 1454) registered by Ashraf Masih and four other Christian plaintiffs against Mr Inayat and 31 other top ranking Church of Pakistan leaders. Mr Inayat's election was challenged by the plaintiffs on the grounds that he was defending a forced conversion charge of a Muslim woman and that there had been violations of the Church's constitution during his election procedure.
The bishop-elect was earlier cleared and ``acquitted with honour'' of falsified charges of kidnapping and thereafter converting a Muslim girl into Christian faith. Moderator Bishop Samuel Azriah, Deputy Moderator Bishop John Samuel, Bishop Alexander John Malik of Lahore, Bishop Mano Rumalshah of Peshwar, Bishop Samuel Pervaiz of Silakot, Bishop Azad Marshal of the Arabian Gulf, and Bishop S. K. Dass of Hyderbad issued a joint statement November 1 stating that they upheld the election of Mr Inayat as the Bishop of Karachi. In an earlier interview with this reporter, Mr Inayat confirmed that he had indeed baptised a Muslim woman last December. He said,``Free will conversion is allowed by law in Pakistan,'' adding, ``Legally there is no restriction, and as a Christian pastor, it was for me a command of Jesus Christ.''
In an interview on August 1, he stated, ``I and my diocese are victims of `judicial terrorism' against Christians in Pakistan'' and asked the world-wide churches to remember him on August 12, the scheduled date for the civil suit against him to be heard by the SHC. ``We are facing a `Justice-delayed/ Justice-denied' situation,'' commented Anwar L. Dean, president of Pakistan Peoples Party Minority Wing.
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