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Christian nurses' 'poisoning' in Pak: Community demands probe

world Updated: Aug 01, 2012 16:13 IST

Pakistan's minority Christian community's leaders have demanded an impartial inquiry into the alleged poisoning of nine nurses at a government-run hospital.

The nine Christian trainee nurses at the Civil Hospital in Karachi fell ill on Sunday night after reportedly drinking poisoned tea prepared at their hostel.

They were claimed to have been deliberately poisoned because of their faith.

According to one of the affected nurses, a colleague had made the tea after 10pm and they fell ill immediately after drinking it.

The nurses were taken to the Civil Hospital's emergency ward and sent back after treatment.

They developed complications the next morning and had to be taken to the hospital again.

Parliamentarian Saleem Khokhar told The Express Tribune that the government and police should launch a joint investigation to find out the actual cause of the poisoning.

Rumours initially suggested that the poisoning occurred as the nurses were drinking tea while their Muslim colleagues were fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramzan.

Khokhar ruled this out, saying the incident took place late at night when everyone had broken their fast.

Condemning the incident, Christian leader Michael Javed sought a judicial investigation.

Claiming that society had become extremely intolerant and was not allowing minorities to live in peace, the former legislator asked the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of the incident.

"The government has turned a blind eye to the persecution of minorities; our girls are being (forcibly) converted and our churches are being attacked," he said.

Javed said it was unfortunate if the nurses were really poisoned because the religious minorities respect the Muslim faith and refrain from drinking and eating in front of them during Ramzan.

Abdul Hai of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan expressed concern at the incident.

"A large number of nurses are Christians and are (already) subjected to ill-treatment and prejudice," he said.