Pakistan (MNN) – Earlier this year, Pakistan dropped from #4 to #5 on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List. But, this could change.
“So far in the first six months of 2018, we’ve seen more kidnappings, rape of Christians, forced marriages and therefore forced conversions to Islam. The false charges of blasphemy… are just an increasing thing,” FMI‘s Bruce Allen shares.
“Beatings that go along with that. And targeted murders of Christians simply because of their faith in Jesus Christ—people getting gunned down in the streets or suicide bombings at churches, things of that nature.”
Rising Pressures Against Christians
Christians are even treated as second-class citizens for not being part of the majority religion of Islam. Organized terrorist attacks have been made on them, which Allen says has left the majority population feeling as though it has impunity.
For example, Allen recalls a young man visiting his pregnant sister at a hospital. His sister had been denied medical care. He tried to speak with the medical staff to amend the situation and get her help.
Then, the security guard and some of the staff beat him to death because of his faith.
A 25-year-old Christian woman suffered burns over 80 percent of her body and then died six days later from her injuries. Why was she attacked? Because she refused the marriage offer of a Muslim man.
On Friday, July 13, at least 149 people were killed and 186 were injured during a political rally in the Mastung region of Balochistan when a suicide bomber attacked. The attack targeted both Christians and Muslims. ISIS has since claimed responsibility for the attack.
Then, on July 18, a church in Faisalabad was vandalized by militant Muslims. Allen says, based on photos from the church site, the damage was not as intense as past church attacks, but it was enough to scare the Christians in the local community. After the attack, local Christians fled their homes out of fear for their lives.
Pakistan Holds Elections
Today, Pakistan is holding elections. Along with the seat for prime minister, there are 272 general seats of the National Assembly, plus another 577 general seats from the provincial assemblies for Punjab, Sindh, Khyber, Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan, up for grabs. And the results could indicate what’s to come for Christians in the country.
Allen shares how one favorable prime minister candidate, Imran Khan—chairman of Pakistan’s Centrist party—Tehreek-e-Insaf, could be a threat to not only Christians, but the rest of Pakistan’s minorities. In past years, this candidate was moderate when it came to blasphemy laws, but this has changed.
“In recent days he says ‘yeah, the blasphemy laws are great.’ He praised them, and in an effort to just garner more votes at political rallies in recent days, he said that he stands along with article 295 C, which is that portion of the penal code that describes blasphemy laws and the penalties for it,” Allen explains.
One problem with upholding these blasphemy laws—they require a mandatory fine and even death sentence upon conviction. Furthermore, a blasphemy conviction does not require evidence.
“It’s a scary thought to think that someone like that could become the next prime minister of Pakistan. And just to get votes, do something that is very rash and very abusive to a segment of his population,” Allen says.
Be Prayerful, Be Active
So please, pray. Use this awareness about Pakistan’s elections and the knowledge of the rise in persecution to pray for the specific challenges facing Christians, and other minorities, in Pakistan. Also, pray for peace during this voting processes, transparency with no election fraud, and for the officials who will be elected.
Continue to ask God for positive change to Pakistan’s current blasphemy laws, which has been on the docket for Pakistan’s parliament, but has seen little to no action.
Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ to demonstrate Christ’s compassion despite their trials, for their growth in wisdom and discernment, and for their courage to speak God’s truth into their culture.
And finally, pray for the necessary funds for FMI supported churches to add security measures and first aid gear to their church sites.
*The World Watch List (WWL) ranks the top 50 countries where Christian persecution is most severe. Pakistan is currently number five. Find the World Watch List here!