Believers concerned over upheaval in Pakistan

By November 6, 2007

Pakistan (MNN) — Pakistani Christians are bracing for more sectarian violence after President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency.  

The Pakistani government says it still plans to hold a national election by mid-January.  Musharraf says he's trying to restore order, so the crackdown on his opposition continues. Opponents accuse Musharraf of quashing dissenters and derailing legal challenges to his authority.

Voice of the Martyrs' Todd Nettleton explains: "He has suspended the country's constitution and essentially put the army in control of the country at this point in time. We're hearing reports of opposition party members being rounded up, so this very much is a concerning situation in Pakistan. Obviously, the Christians there could potentially be caught up in the middle of this upheaval." 

According to Open Doors, they may already be experiencing that. A worker with the Church of Pakistan in Peshawar confirmed that Christians in Swat have been forced to accept Islamic law.

"Militants have begun to enforce Muslim customs, which is creating problems for the local community," said Ashar Dean, assistant director of communications for the diocese.

Ministry is likely to be affected. Until public order is restored, Nettleton says, "Right now, any kind of a large gathering is suspect. So any kind of a large church meeting would be suspect to the government."

Meanwhile, Islamists continue to increase their efforts to establish Islamic rule in Swat following a government crackdown on militants at Lal Masjid mosque in Islamabad in July.

Prayer, says Nettleton, is much needed for believers in this region. "Right now, I think that Christians are keeping their heads down and waiting to see what comes out of this. We need to pray that they'll be safe; we need to pray that they'll be protected; and I think we can also pray that this can be a time of ministry."

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