July 18th, 2008 12:37 EST
Continued Persecution of Christians in 'US Ally' Pakistan
Report Details: Professor Shaun Gregory [author], The Christian Minority in Pakistan: Issues and Options, Pakistan Security Research Unit [PSRU], University of Bradford, UK. 18 July 2008. Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 0044(0)1274-234182.
Full report available free of charge (in PDF) here.
Report Overview and Main Findings
This report describes the persecution of Christians in terms of both the historical experience of Christians in Pakistan and of the draconian religious laws introduced in Pakistan through the 1980s and 1990s. It shows that under the military rule of President General Pervez Musharraf, after 1999, a number of attempts were made to reform these laws and improve the situation of Christians and other minorities in Pakistan, but that these have largely failed because of opposition from Islamist and conservative Islamic forces in Pakistan. The main findings of the report are:
- Christians across Pakistan, numbering perhaps 10 million, are subject to violence, intimidation, torture, rape, false imprisonment, forced conversion, bonded labour, forced marriage, and child kidnapping. Christians have been forced from their homes and their places of worship have been desecrated or destroyed;
- Christians in Pakistan are identified with the West and bear the brunt of the backlash against US and NATO military operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan;
- Christians have suffered for decades under draconian religious laws, particularly blasphemy laws , "Hudood" laws, and laws of evidence;
- Attempts at reform under President General Pervez Musharraf have either failed or have been watered down because of opposition from Islamist and conservative Islamic forces in Pakistan;
- Law enforcement and legal authorities in Pakistan do little to protect Christians;
- The new civilian government of Pakistan has taken some significant steps to progress the rights and security of Christians in Pakistan, but face stern opposition;
- Urgent changes are still needed to improve the situation of Christians and other minorities in Pakistan: (a) repeal or amend the religious laws; (b) provide proportionate political representation for Christians in all national and provincial political assemblies; (c) guarantee the rights, interests and property of Christians; and (d) provide restitution for Christians who have suffered under draconian religious laws;
- The treatment of Pakistan`s Christian minority is a litmus test of Pakistan`s claims to modernity and pluralism.