My Friends are in Prison in Pakistan

by MW Cook

     Well now…

     It’s been an interesting time so far. For any of you who do not know what’s going on, I’ll start from the beginning.

     I arrived in Pakistan at the beginning of this week, eager to visit my family, in-laws and friends. During the very first night, my dear friends, Nathaniel and Hillary Barnett, were arrested by the Pakistani police.

     They had seen that their visa was going to expire a few weeks before their flight out of Pakistan. They sent their applications to to the government just like they had been told. But the application took much longer than they were led to believe and their visa expired while the process was still ongoing. Nate was arrested in the streets near their home in Karachi. Hillary was picked up at my in-laws house in Sanghar as they were busily preparing for a wedding.

     They are now in a federal penitentiary.

     They have a very good lawyer. His hope is that they can get the government to release them into house arrest until their flight, which is booked for the end of this month.

     Why is this happening? To throw people in prison for such a small thing is not common. Some people suggest that the current political is making things worse. Or maybe a few over-zealous police officers or magistrates have made it worse. It’s anyone’s guess. The result is the same.

     What can you do? You can do more than you think. I was just thinking of a neat passage uttered by the prophet Isaiah.

“You who put the LORD in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.”

     I’d like to propose Operation No Rest. The first aspect of it is for those of you who pray. Just like Isaiah told his people to give God no rest until he restored Jerusalem, give your God no rest until he moves and takes his people out of prison.
     The second aspect is for those of you who are Canadian citizens. The lawyer has said one of the best things you can do on that side of the ocean is to contact ever MP and government official you can and tell them what’s going on and what you’d like them to do about it. And then to do it again. And again. And again until it becomes clear that the only way you’ll leave them alone is if they get mobilized and get our people out of prison.

     What are their conditions like? I was able to see Hillary yesterday. She’s in the women’s section of the prison and has not been able to communicate with her husband at all. Food and clothing are an issue but some friends and I are taking care of that for them both, making deliveries daily. She is strong and in reasonably good spirits. Her only real complaint is that she does not know what is happening to her husband. I hope to be able to see him in a few days.

     How are they being treated? Well, actually. The prison officials are kind and know that if Canadian citizens are mistreated there will be a lot of problems for them. They are guarded and protected. Which, to be honest, is a lot more than can be said for many of the others in that prison.

     My family and I plan to live in Karachi until this matter is resolved. I’ll be trying to get more information and keep you updated as best as I can. Hopefully daily.