Pakistan (MNN) — Tension between Pakistan’s government and a radical Islamist group turned deadly this weekend. “It has led to a lot of unrest and violence in the streets of Pakistan,” Todd Nettleton with The Voice of the Martyrs USA says.
“As of Sunday, this political party, TLP, was holding some police as hostages.”
Two people died in street clashes. Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) members took 11 police officers hostage, then eventually released them. The TLP met with authorities yesterday for the second round of negotiations.
The TLP-government conflict is rooted in foreign affairs. More about that here. “This is a political party whose basis is anyone accused of blasphemy should be executed,” Nettleton says of TLP.
“In recent days, they have been pushing for the expulsion of a French diplomat. The Pakistani government is saying, ‘No, we’re not going to do that’.”
At first glance, this political unrest seems a far cry from Christian persecution. However, “Christians [could be] symbolically targeted in this unrest and in the violence that’s going on. One of the challenges for Christians in Pakistan is that they are often seen as a Western religion,” Nettleton explains.
“They (TLP) have animosity towards Western ideas, so Christians could potentially be caught in the crossfire of that, or they could be targeted.”
Pray this conflict resolves without further bloodshed. Ask the Lord to protect His followers in Pakistan. “Pray that God will protect and watch over and encourage them during this time. Pray for peace to be restored in the streets of Pakistan,” Nettleton says.
“The second thing we can do is make sure our government leaders know that we care about religious freedom; we care about Pakistan protecting their Christian population,” he continues. Look for ways to advocate through VOM USA here.
“I’ve often reminded American Christians [that] in our society, the elected officials – at least in theory – work for us. We need to let them know what our priorities are.”
Header image is a representative photo courtesy of Aleem Yousaf via Wikimedia Commons.