(BosNewsLife) – Christians in Pakistan faced a new period of uncertainty Monday, July 18, amid news of increased violence against believers and the adoption of what human rights groups call “a move towards a Taliban-style government” in a key region. “The Hasba Act [in Pakistan ‘s North West Frontier Province ]” adopted Friday, July 15, by the mainly Islamic local legislature will create “a department modeled on the repressive Department of Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue in [neighboring] Afghanistan ,” said Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
“This department led to religious police roaming Afghan streets confronting men without beards of sufficient length and enforcing the universal wearing of the head-to-toe burqa dress,” added CSW, which investigates the situation of reportedly persecuted Christians in the area. The Pakistan government Friday, July 15, reportedly asked the Supreme Court to rule on the controversial Islamic law. News of the legislation comes as worries increase over the health of a Pakistani Christian, who was arrested last month in the same province and charged under Pakistan s already tight blasphemy law, human rights activists say. Police arrested 60-year old Yousaf Masih on June 28, in Nowshera, North-West Frontier Province , on the grounds that he desecrated the Koran by allegedly burning pages with Koranic verses written on them. Soon after several Christian areas of Pakistan were reportedly attacked and hundreds of homes were destroyed by Islamic militants around the city of Peshawar, about 172 km (107 miles) west of the capital Islamabad. But the Voice Of the Martyrs (VOM) USA , a Christian human rights watchdog, said Masih can not read.