Christian family fear death if forced to return to Pakistan after failed asylum bid

'It is true that lots of Christians live in Pakistan but once you have been targeted by Islamic extremists who know your name and your face, it is impossible to live'

Mattha Busby
Monday 11 June 2018 00:14
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The Bakhsh family fear they face death if forced to return to Pakistan. Cameron Brooks
The Bakhsh family fear they face death if forced to return to Pakistan. Cameron Brooks

The Home Office has been urged to grant asylum to a Pakistani family who fear death if they are forced to leave the UK after six years of unsuccessful applications for asylum.

Maqsood Bakhsh fled Pakistan in 2012 with his wife Parveen and their sons Somer and Areebs, then aged nine and seven, after Islamic extremists threatened to kill him because of his religious beliefs.

Glasgow North East Labour MP Paul Sweeney plans to raise the case in the House of Commons and has been in discussions with the family.

Mr Bakhsh, a Christian, has appealed to the prime minister for leave to remain but the Home Office has repeatedly rejected his family’s asylum applications, mainly because officials do not believe they would be at risk in Pakistan.

"Prime Minister, please help us because I do not understand why the Home Office keep rejecting us,” said Mr Bakhsh.

"They keep telling us that some parts of Pakistan are safe for Christians.

"It is true that lots of Christians live in Pakistan but once you have been targeted by Islamic extremists who know your name and your face, it is impossible to live.

"Four of my friends have been killed by Islamic extremists and my sister-in- law's brother is serving life in jail because of the blasphemy law.

"My nephew was kidnapped last month and no one knows what has happened to him."

The catalyst of the death threat was the murder of two Christians shot outside a court, while in police custody, in Faisalabad two years previously.

Pastor Rashid Emmanuel, 32, and Sajid, 24, were subsequently accused of writing a pamphlet critical of the Prophet Muhammad that flouted Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law, which carries the death penalty.

Mr Bakhsh, 50, claims the people responsible for the deaths believe he is in league with the two men and would kill him and his family if they had the chance.

The family have been appealing for asylum since they fled Pakistan and arrived in the UK in 2012.

The Bakhsh’s, who live in north Glasgow, have now been told they have exhausted the process and have no right to appeal. However, they plan to launch a legal challenge.

Mr Bakhsh, who was a commissioner at the Kirk's General Assembly in 2017, worked as a data analyst in Pakistan and holds two Master's degrees, while his wife is a trained neonatal midwife with 17-years of experience.

Due to their immigration status both have been unable to work since arriving in Scotland and survive on benefits and charity.

"Not being able to use our talents and abilities to make a contribution to this great country has been very hard and frustrating for us," said Mr Bakhsh.

"We love this city, my sons feel Scottish and they are thriving here.

"They feel safe, which is my biggest concern, and want to stay with all their friends - the only people they know - and get a good education," he added.

Rev Linda Pollock, a minister at Possilpark Parish Church where Mr Bakhsh is an elder, said their situation is "unconscionable".

"I hope that the Home Office will re-examine the family's case, stop treating them as numbers and acknowledge them as human beings because they have so much to give to Scotland."

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