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Persecution of Christians in Pakistan in the Light of History

Updated on March 11, 2015
Ms Dee profile image

Deidre has a Masters in applied linguistics and translation for her 20 years overseas, then she worked as a certified provider of the MBTI®.

Being a Christian in Pakistan is not an easy way to go. Christians there—now 2% of the population—pay a high price for being in the minority. In Islamabad (The City of Islam), a community of 5,000 of them live in extreme poverty, separated from the rest of society by a very high wall; far different from the time of Pakistan's independence.

When it gained independence in 1947, Pakistan tried to create a secular environment where all religions could thrive. However, since the mid 1970s a huge shift has taken shape, culminating in a democratic republic with Islam as the state religion, taking on more and more Islamic laws. This has led to the controversial blasphemy laws, which are used to show Christians are "un-Islamic." More and more forced conversions to Islam are taking place.

by Omer Wazir
by Omer Wazir | Source

Attacks on Christians

  • October 2001 - gunmen on motorcycles (officials think maybe a banned Islamic group) fire on a Protestant congregation in the Punjab, killing 18 people.
  • March 2002 - five people killed in an attack on a church in Islamabad
  • August 2002 - masked gunmen storm a Christian missionary school for foreigners in Islamabad, killing six, and grenades are thrown at a church in the grounds of a Christian hospital in NW Pakistan, killing three nurses.
  • September 2002 - two terrorists enter the "Peace and Justice Institute", Karachi, where they separate Muslims from the Christians, then murder seven Pakistani Christians shooting them in the head
  • December 2002 - three young girls are killed when a hand grenade was thrown into a church near Lahore on Christmas Day.
  • November 2005 - 3,000 militant Islamists attack Christians in Sangla Hill, Pakistan, over allegations of violation of blasphemy laws by a Pakistani Christian named Yousaf Masih, destroying Roman Catholic, Salvation Army and United Presbyterian churches.
  • June 2006 - Pakistani Christian stonemason, Nasir Ashraf, was drinking water from a public facility using a glass chained to the facility, when he was assaulted by Muslims for "polluting the glass." A mob gathered, beat Ashraf, and called him a "Christian dog." Bystanders encouraged the beating and joined in. Ashraf was eventually hospitalized.
  • August 2007 - Christian missionary couple, Rev. Arif and Kathleen Khan, are gunned down by militant Islamists in Islamabad who make false accusations.

Persecuted in Pakistan

  • August 2009 - six Christians, including 4 women and a child, are burnt alive by militant Islamists; a church is set ablaze in Gojra, Pakistan, when violence broke out after an alleged desecration of the Qur'an.

When there is an attack on Muslims in Afghanistan or Iraq, problems increase for Pakistani Christian communities because they are seen as connected to those attacks on Muslims. Pakistani Christians are harassed at the work place and Christian women, valued so little by Muslims, are easy targets for rape, with justice for them hard to come by.

Pakistan's Blasphemy Law

The blasphemy law, 295c, allows a Muslim to make an accusation without any evidence. This provides, in essence, an open invitation to drum up false evidence to accuse a Christian of insulting or slandering the prophet Mohammed or the Qur'an; often a set up to be tricked into some offense.

Insertion of new section 295-C, Act XLV of 1860. In the Pakistan Penal Code (Act XLV of 1860), after section 295-B, the following new section shall be inserted, namely:
Use of derogatory remarks, etc. in respect of the Holy Prophet. Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

Militants have packed courtrooms and often pressured judges to prolong trials indefinitely or to rule a guilty verdict. This is immediately followed by jailing, weeks of torture and often ends in death, or a life sentence. It is hard to challenge such laws because they are instituted as Islamic law upheld by the military dictatorship.

Bhatti predicts own assassination

Assassination of a government cabinet member

Pakistan's minister for minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, was just assassinated. Why? He was a Christian who had retained his position in the Pakistan government following a major reshuffle on 10 February. Islamists killed him though for opposing Pakistan's blasphemy laws. His family and government officials are in disagreement on the amount of security provided Minister Bhatti.

Bhatti fought for the right for Christians to freely worship, and against radical Islam and blasphemy laws. It is said that he was "a tractor who pulled the Christian community forward." His death leaves behind a major void that will be hard to fill. This video, released by the group First Step Forum, is said to have been recorded four months ago.

Though Bhatti had requested the President and PM enhance security measures, after seeing suspicious activity at work and around his residence, no action was taken—certainly not the commandos now claimed to have been deployed for protection. He was not even provided a bullet-proof vehicle that several former ministers who no longer serve are still allowed to use.

600 Christian Families Flee

© 2011 Deidre Shelden


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    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      Good point, FitnezzJim. And it is the minorities who usually get the brunt of the destroying; either that or the unalert.

    • FitnezzJim profile image

      FitnezzJim 6 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

      Bad leaders have a tendency to rally people on the basis of destroying something.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      From what I read on recent news and from sites like Int'l Christian Concern, it is getting worse and worse for minorities there, thus the reason for this article I posted.

    • profile image

      Kareena 6 years ago

      How is the present situation in Pakistan. Is it improving.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      Good to get your clarification, SAH. Are the minority officially making requests to governments for help? Thanks for your information on this!

    • SayedAthar Husain profile image

      SayedAthar Husain 6 years ago from London

      Ms Dee,

      The region of Pakistan upto Punjab is in deep trouble because of militants. The Muslims with right teaching are in minority. Moreover they are not militants and cannot force the militants to righteousness. The world support is needed to prepare ground to enforce correct Islam and as I said the correct Islam is the teaching from the Imams of the house of the Prophet Mohammad SAWW.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      The faith, SAH, is not the government, apparently. What I don't understand from what you say then is why the Muslims from the 'right' SAWW teaching are not rising up against what you say the Madresshas are doing. They are they ones to correct the thinking, if what you say is true. They are the ones who need to unite and oppose the Madresshas who are imparting the 'wrong' teaching. You would be the ones who understand best where they are wrong. Not the entire world. Are Muslims with the 'correct' teaching holding back in fear?

    • SayedAthar Husain profile image

      SayedAthar Husain 6 years ago from London

      The Muslim faith does not allow any excess on anyone in any form. That which the so called Muslims do in the name of Islam is all bigotry, mischief and a deliberate attempt to impose theirr iterpretaion of Islam. The Madresshas imparting these teachings must be controlled. That's where a combined world effort is needed .

      But first of all the world must determine and affix the rule that Islam coming from the teachings of the progenies of Prophet Mohammad SAWW only is the right one and that Islam has to be propagated. Once the thinking through that has been corrected, the peaceful Pakistan will return. We want the Christians, the Jews, the Zoroatrians and the non-Muslims and want them to flourish in Pakistan.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      Amen, Betty! Christ is the only hope. Thanks for your read and response :)

    • Betty Johansen profile image

      Betty Johansen 6 years ago

      What a grievous situation! We have to keep praying and trusting for the Lord's intervention. It is the only hope.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      Yes, Osita, it is happening EVERYWHERE, isn't it. And our leaders of the non-Islamic world seem to be duped into inaction believing lies that these militants are working for peace. Absurd! Preposterous! Foolish!

    • Osita Ebiem profile image

      Osita Ebiem 6 years ago from New York

      This has been a very informative read and very horrific and disturbing. Thanks for informing us. All the names could be exchanged for Nigerian ones or anywhere else where islam holds sway, it's pathetic.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      I very much appreciate your read and feedback, BP!

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 6 years ago

      Will the persecution and suffering ever end? Sadly, I think not. Up and useful and awesome.