Shooting of 15-year-old activist didn’t slow push for equality

By January 7, 2013

Pakistan (MNN) — The Pakistan United Christian Movement (PUCM), a new political party in Pakistan, is gaining momentum under Chairman Albert David, a Pakistani-Christian activist.

According to Voice of the Martyrs, Canada’s source, Assist News, David launched the PUCM political party in October 2012. PUCM operates under the slogan: “Equality for all Pakistanis.” David believes that Christians should pursue activity in Pakistan’s political arena “to ensure their increased visibility and importance.”

But that can sometimes be easier said than done. Representation often comes with the ability to hold seats in the Pakistan Parliament. Over the past 65 years of the National assembly, the 207 seats in parliament went up to 335, and seats for women increased from 15 to 60. But the seats for minorities—which include Christians—were disproportionally increased from 10 to 14.

Pakistan has gone up in the ranks every year for the past three years on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List of countries committing acts of Christian persecution. In 2010, Pakistan was #14 on the list. In 2011, Pakistan leaped three places to the 11th rank. Last year, Pakistan broke the top 10.

PUCM is “based on the biblical message in Psalm 133:1 — “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” PUCM’s mission is to promote and build unity among the Christians of Pakistan reflecting mutual respect and understanding, political and socio-economic progress, and prosperity.”

According to VOMC, “Christians are regularly barred from jobs or face troubles from their employers and co-workers. Christian merchants are often harassed.”

The PUCM doesn’t just want to see better equality and treatment of Christians. According to the PUCM’s mission, they also want “increased representation, including women, in legislative forums at Federal and Provincial levels.”

The need for better treatment of Pakistani women is critical. Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old Pakistani girl, was released from a hospital in the UK last Friday after being shot in the head by Taliban for promoting girls’ education.

Malala’s stand for girls’ rights to education came in a blog article for the BBC in Urdu. The article focused on the Taliban’s ban on education for girls in the Swat valley and was written under a pen name. Her article was nominated for several awards.

Malala said in interviews with Pakistani journalist Owais Tohid, "I wanted to scream, shout, and tell the whole world what we were going through. But it was not possible. The Taliban would have killed me, my father, my whole family. I would have died without leaving any mark. So I chose to write with a different name. And it worked, as my valley has been freed.”

Malala went on to say, "I want to change the political system so there is social justice and equality and change in the status of girls and women. I plan to set up my own academy for girls.”

According to The CIA World Factbook’s 2009 estimates, the average Pakistani boy stays in school for 8 years, while girls only get 6 years of education. Only 40% of Pakistani girls over the age of 15 can even read and write. For boys, that number is nearly 70%.

The marginalization of women, Christians, and other minorities are common in Pakistan, especially with Sharia law becoming increasingly applied in the Muslim-majority areas. According to Pakistan’s Law 295, or the Blasphemy Law, blaspheming Islam and the Qur’an are criminal offenses. Blaspheming against Mohammed will result in a death sentence.

Please pray for the PUCM to raise awareness for greater equality in Pakistan. Pray for Christians, women, and other minorities suffering discrimination. Pray for the Lord’s strength and peace to fill Christians in Pakistan as they spread the Gospel.

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