#8 in Christian persecution, Pakistan

SCORE87.38 REGIONAsia PERSECUTION TYPEIslamic oppression RELIGIONIslam PERSECUTION LEVELExtreme POPULATION212,107,000 CHRISTIAN4,080,000 GOVERNMENTFederal Parliamentary Republic LEADERPrime Minister Imran Khan PROFILE OF PERSECUTION Violence 16.7/16.7Church Life 13.1/16.7National Life 14.9/16.7Community Life 15.1/16.7Family Life 14.0/16.7Private Life 13.6/16.7 How the scoring worksDownload country dossier with in-depth research What does persecution look like in Pakistan? In Pakistan, Christians are considered second-class citizens and are discriminated against in every aspect of life. Church leaders can be arrested if they don’t abide by the authorities’ wishes. These arrests act as warnings to the Christian minority and intimidates them further. The COVID-19 crisis led to an increase of aid being provided to Christian day laborers only if they converted to Islam. Pakistan’s infamous blasphemy laws continue to be leveraged to accuse non-Muslims (or minority Muslim sects) of insulting the Prophet Mohammed or the Quran—even a false accusation can lead to mob violence. Additionally, a silent epidemic of kidnappings, forced marriages and forced conversion of Christian girls and women continue to take place in Pakistan. Meet “Arzoo,” a Pakistani girl who was kidnapped at age 13 and forced to convert to Islam and marry her abductor “’Arzoo’ is a third-generation Pakistani Christian girl,” says one source who wishes not to be named. “She is one of many who go through the trauma of abduction and forced conversion annually. Christians in Pakistan are asking for prayer for the legal procedures and trial that lie ahead, for justice to be upheld and lives and families to be safeguarded.” What has changed this year? Persecution has remained steady in Pakistan this year. Violence against Christians for their faith continues to happen at extreme levels, but discrimination and pressure are daily realities for Christians throughout the country. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a campaign where hardline Islamists tied food aid to conversions, and Christian hospital workers were sent to COVID-19 wards with no protective gear, because they are viewed as expendable. Christians can be taunted for wearing a cross necklace, accusations of blasphemy can happen because of Facebook posts (and lead to violent mob reprisals) and anyone who converts from Islam is viewed as an apostate. Who is most vulnerable to persecution? Since most Christians live in Punjab Province, many incidents of persecution, discrimination and intolerance occur there. However, next to Punjab, the province of Sindh is also notorious for being a hotspot for bonded labor, affecting many Christians as well. All Christians in Pakistan are potential victims of abuse and discrimination, but anyone caught converting from Islam bears the brunt of persecution in Pakistan. Even established churches come under pressure and surveillance from the government. What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Pakistan? Open Doors is active in the Persian Gulf countries through the ALIVE network of partner churches, but for reasons of security, we cannot say what we exactly do where. Population statistic: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed April 2021).

Pray for Pakistan

  • Pray for believers who are working dangerous and unsanitary jobs, that God will keep them healthy and safe, despite their working conditions. Pray for any believers who are accused of blasphemy, that they would be kept safe and delivered from false accusations. Pray for the entire Christian community of Pakistan, that they would be encouraged and kept from exhaustion and despair.

  • Pray for the government and religious leaders of Pakistan. Ask God to soften the hearts of people in charge, that they would extend an open hand to Pakistani Christians and allow different religions to peacefully worship and live out their faith in Pakistan.

  • Pray for the women and girls who are kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim men. Pray for healing from the deep trauma they endure and ask God to deliver His people from the deep wounds of the enemy.Pray for the women and girls who are kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim men. Pray for healing from the deep trauma they endure and ask God to deliver His people from the deep wounds of the enemy.

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SCORE 63.90 REGION Central Asia PERSECUTION TYPE Dictatorial paranoia RELIGION Islam PERSECUTION LEVEL Very High POPULATION 18,957,000 CHRISTIAN 4,847,000 GOVERNMENT Presidential republic LEADER Presi