Pakistan has consistently ranked among the most difficult countries for Christian communities to exist. Blasphemy laws, discrimination and outright persecution have pushed Pakistan’s dwindling Christian population to the brink. Many are fleeing the country every day in search of a new home where they will not face such intense persecution. Faced with so many challenges and persecution, as noted below, who could blame them?
11/19/2014 Pakistan (MNN) – According to a new study, over 80% of the deaths caused by terrorist activity last year happened in only five countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Syria.
The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) says most, but not all, of 2013’s terrorist attacks were motivated by religion, and two-thirds of the attacks were carried out by members of radical Islam. The groups al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Islamic State, and Taliban were responsible for a majority of last year’s terrorist violence.
Pakistan, ranked third on the GTI behind Afghanistan and Iraq, saw a 37% rise in terrorism-related fatalities during 2013. The GTI says most attacks in Pakistan were against religious and educational institutions.
According to Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI), terrorism only adds to the challenges Pakistani Christians face daily.
The average income for a Pakistani citizen is somewhere near $3,100 USD, according to CIA data.
“Now, that’s [the] average. If you’re Christian, it’s less than that,” notes FMI’s Bruce Allen.
Nehemiah* is the director of FMI’s ministry in Pakistan. He says society’s worst jobs are saved for believers. Christians are appointed to menial tasks like street sweeping, cleaning sewers, or brick-making.
“We call them ‘Three D’ jobs. Three D jobs mean dirty, difficult, and dangerous,” Nehemiah explains. When he and his cohorts surveyed the largest Christian community in Lahore, Pakistan, they uncovered another startling statistic: “Almost 40-45% of women, Christian women, are involved in prostitution because of the poverty.”
The Pakistani Christians’ challenges don’t stop at employment.
“We need to help bolster and fortify the education system here. That’s one of the major areas where Christians are discriminated against,” Nehemiah shares.
Nehemiah and other FMI-supported pastors are adding classrooms to their church buildings so the children of Christ-followers and other religious minorities have a safe place to learn.
“It’s a long process, and it takes a generation for the fruit to be seen…but, there’s no other real way,” Allen adds.
A Pakistani NGO recently reported that between 1987 and October 2014, 1,438 people have been accused of blasphemy under Pakistan’s infamous law. Religious minorities account for 50% of those cases, and 182 Christians have been targeted; the latest arrest, a 40-year-old Christian professor, was made yesterday in Lahore.