A group of masked men set fire to Christian Television Channel Gawahi TV in Pakistani port city of Karachi overnight. The attackers fled as the building collapsed due to the fire. According to employees, the arson attack occurred at 2.30am (local time). The fire destroyed entire complex including studios, computers, Bibles and cable network equipment.
Gawahi television was established in February 2013 in a joint collaboration between Catholic and Protestant communities, to “spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Pakistan. The channel which reportedly had 12 million viewers was under constant threat by Muslim radicals.
Gawahi TV studios was located in South District of Karachi, an area which had a large Christian population but is surrounded by Muslim majority.
The station management had denounced past threats and despite many requests, police and authorities did not provide the necessary security. Some members of the Catholic Church, including several priests, visited the scene of the fire, expressing disappointment at what happened.
Fr. John Arif, of the Diocese of Karachi, said:
“It was disheartening to see the entire building and all equipment burned. The channel was set up to communicate the word of God. There have been threats and now the matter is under investigation. We hope to soon see the channel on air again. We pray for peace and tolerance.”
Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC also condemned the attack and demanded arrest of culprits involved in the incident.
“It is surprising that Pakistani Electronic media owned by Muslims have again not bothered to cover setting on fire incident of Gawahi TV when minor issues are taken as breaking news by it” said Nazir Bhatti.