Pakistan (MNN) — Talks between the Taliban and Pakistan have been suspended as the Pakistan's military is taking action in the region. According to reports, troops and Taliban militants have clashed in the Northwest Frontier Province, forcing hundreds of civilians to leave.
In February, after months of clashes, authorities in the area known as the Swat Valley agreed to a truce. The deal allowed the Taliban to imposed sharia law, or Islamic law, in order to achieve peace.
But militants last week moved into the adjacent Buner district which is just 60 miles from Islamabad. Pakistan military responded with force, prompting Taliban leaders to say the peace with Pakistan is worthless.
Paul Estabrooks, minister-at-large with Open Doors USA and an expert on the region, says the Taliban "got their sharia law for that area, and now basically they seem to be reneging on the peace agreement that came with it."
Last week we told you that Pakistan would fall into utter chaos in 12 to 18 months because the Taliban wants Pakistan along with its seaport and nuclear weapons. Estabrooks says, "They will want to add to their territorial hold there in northwest Pakistan and along that entire border with Afghanistan. So I think that will be the challenge in the days ahead. And what kind of resistance they'll meet is yet to be seen."
Whatever happens, Christians will face even more pressure. "They're already under tremendous pressure because they are a minority and because they are disrespected, in my opinion, in that country. They basically have no human rights."
However, Estabrooks says, "There have been just a few glimmers of hope lately with some overturning of some blasphemy cases, although the [Christians] still spent two years in prison before their case was overturned."
There is something all Christians can do. "We still believe prayer is the best answer," says Estabrooks, "and so we encourage our brothers and sisters here in the West to pray for the situation in Pakistan, especially in light of its impact on the growing church of Jesus Christ there."
If the Taliban does win in Pakistan, Estabrooks doesn't believe it will kill the church. "It'll just create more secret believers. Open Doors is dealing with and helping a large group of people all over the world who, because of those pressures, have become secret believers."