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pakistan Archives - Mission Network News

Will ISIS go nuclear?

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Debate continues over the probability and likelihood of a nuclear ISIS. While reportedly improbable, Central Asia could be a starting point for the Islamic State’s nuclear ambitions.

ISIS in Central Asia

(Wikipedia)

(Wikipedia)

In March, terrorists handed out hundreds of notices on official ISIS letterhead before and after the bombing of a Shi’ite mosque.

Though officials continue to deny an Islamic State presence in Pakistan, “they’re operating there,” says Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI).

“Their recruiting pamphlets are there across Pakistan; brick-and-mortar office buildings.”

Yet, a bigger concern is the growth of ISIS in neighboring Afghanistan.

Earlier this week, the top commander of U.S. forces in the region called for more troops because ISIS and al-Qaeda were increasing in strength.

“The ISIS influence is stronger in Afghanistan than in Pakistan,” claims this security analyst.

“However, Pakistan would not be able to counter the threat alone if he conflict in Afghanistan worsens and Pakistani and Afghani militants inspired by the ISIS try to capture territory along the Pak-Afghan border for establishing a ‘caliphate.’”

(Photo cred: FMI)

(Photo cred: FMI)

While clearly present in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Islamic State’s “hold” on Central Asia as a whole is arguable.

“No Central Asian government has produced much by way of proof that Islamic State is operating in any substantial fashion within the region,” said a blogger on Eurasianet.org.

Meanwhile, indigenous missionaries supported by FMI are pressing forward without fear.

Pakistan: Anti-Blasphemy Laws

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FMI_Muslim prayer in Pakistan

Muslim workers pause for a few minutes along an alleyway in the afternoon to offer their ritual prayers.
(Image, caption courtesy FMI)

According to Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI), terrorists aren’t the only source of persecution for Pakistani Christians.

Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws were first put into place in 1927, but the amendment that has made the laws infamous for persecution wasn’t added until 1986. Between 1927 and 1986, there were only seven violations of Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law; however, from 1986 onward, as many as 4,000 cases were formed.

According to Contributoria.com, half of the people charged were minorities.

Today, the laws are mostly used to persecute Pakistan’s religious minority groups, such as Christians and Shi’ite Muslims.

“What is so ironic is Pakistan itself was founded for the protection of minorities,” says Allen, referring to the Pakistan-India split of 1947.

He says those belonging to the “religious majority” in Pakistan follow Sunni Islam. Shi’ite Muslims comprise 10% of the remaining population, while Christians and Hindus make up less than 4%. Less than one-percent of Pakistani’s are evangelical Christ-followers.

Nevertheless, “They’re ALL being affected by these anti-blasphemy laws,” says Allen.

You can help provide a safe haven for persecuted Pakistani Christians here.

“We operate several safe houses where they can go for crisis or transition and receive medical care, a safe place to live; perhaps some vocational training,” says Allen.

Get more FMI updates here.

“Pray for the repeal of the anti-blasphemy laws. They are being so abused in Pakistan,” Allen suggests.

“[Pray] that God moves in the hearts of the political leadership to see that justice — true justice — gets done.”

Pakistani Flag

Police in Pakistan torture Christian man to death

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Pakistan (MNN) – Open Doors USA confirms the unsettling circumstances surrounding the torture and death of a 28-year old gardener in Pakistan.

Police took Amir Masih into custody on August 28. Three days later, says Isaac Six of Open Doors USA, he was dead. “What’s shocking and brutal about this is that it was carried out by the authorities and that it was done so blatantly. The family was able to pick up Mr. Masih after he’d been tortured for days. He was alive for a few hours to tell his story to the family before he passed away. “

Justice for Amir?

Stock photo of police in Lahore. Pakistan (Photo courtesy of Luke X Martin/Flickr/CC)

Mr. Masih’s employer accused him of theft, which led to the arrest. As for due process? Christians in Pakistan face widespread discrimination and religious intolerance. They often face false accusations with little to no recourse or protection.

In this situation, Six says, “The evidence is blatant that there was terrible torture done here, and it looks like the authorities are investigating, which is good. But often in these cases, there’s no accountability for those who are responsible. That’s the thing we’re following closely.”   

While the case garnered widespread attention, Six cautions, That doesn’t mean that they necessarily will be justice. Sometimes after the attention blows over, everything sort of fades away, and it becomes harder to really hold people accountable.”

The attention could complicate justice. “A lot of Pakistani society has been radicalized, and I want to quantify that a bit, but there’s a number of very powerful groups that are very fanatical about a very radical form of Islam, and they hold a lot of sway. So even when the government or others want to do the right thing, it’s sometimes very difficult to do that.”

(Photo of Asia Bibi and her lawyer, courtesy of Open Doors USA)

Citing Asia Bibi’s case, he reminds us, “Just the hint that she would be released and then that she might be able to leave the country led to tens of thousands of people in the streets rioting and calling for her to be executed.” Death threats plagued court officials, and Bibi’s lawyer eventually left the country. 

Christians are second-class citizens in Pakistan

Pakistan is fifth on the current Open Doors USA World Watch List, a report that ranks the 50 countries where it is most challenging to profess and practice the Christian faith. The irony is that the country’s founder promoted religious freedom, yet some of the world’s most widely-known cases of Christian persecution happened there.   

(Screen capture courtesy of Prayercast)

Even the call for societal change on a large scale is risky. Politicians calling for blasphemy law reforms face death threats. Assassins killed two.

Six says the conversation continues. “It’s always great to talk about societal change. One of the ways that really happens is through the Gospel. It is important for those on the front lines of this to continue doing that important work because I think that’s the only way we’re really going to see change.”

A call for supernatural change

As far as what an outsider can do to promote change within Pakistan, Six makes this request: “It’s the number one request we ever hear when working with the persecuted Church, and that is to pray. In this case, of course, praying for the family. First that, they would find strength, and they’d be comforted, that people and supporters would surround them during this time and help meet their needs; praying for those authorities who are investigating to follow a just path and to hold people accountable for this; praying for broader change in Pakistan and for peace in that country.” 

Masih’s wife and two sons, one 7-years-old and the other 14-days-old, survive him.

 

 

(Headline photo courtesy Wikimedia/CC)