For some, the suicide bombing targeting Christians in Lahore, Pakistan was the first time they had ever heard of Pakistani Christians. These individuals were then horrified to learn that Christians and their places of worship are often targeted by Pakistan’s plethora of terrorist organizations. Unfortunately, that is not all Pakistan’s persecuted Christians face because of their religious identity. In many human rights circles, Pakistan is considered one of the hardest places to be a Christians. Strict blasphemy laws, forced conversions, and widespread discrimination make living in Pakistan as a Christian almost impossible.
4/21/2016 Pakistan (USA Today) – The Easter bombing in Lahore, Pakistan, that killed 70 last month is one of many recent attacks targeting Christians in the country, but terrorism is far from the only threat to the nation’s oppressed minority.
A breakaway Taliban faction claimed responsibility for the March 27 attack on a park crowded with families. The group said it specifically targeted Pakistan’s Christian community, although most of the victims ended up being Muslims. The same militants took credit for twin bombings of a Christian church in Lahore last year.
Beyond major attacks by terror groups, including several other church explosions in the past few years, Pakistan’s 3 million Christians face economic marginalization and persecution at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists.
The minority represents about 1.6% of the country’s population and mostly resides in the urban areas of Pakistan, concentrated in major cities like Karachi and Lahore. Yet an overwhelming majority are confined to the low-paying, menial jobs of sanitary or domestic work.
“I have been denied promotions several times because I am Christian,” said Liaqat James, 36, an office worker at a private company in the province of Punjab. “They won’t tell you directly but you know why you are being kept behind others. I have close relatives who were denied jobs in the public and private sector only because they were Christians.”
Under Pakistani law, government institutes must reserve 5% of jobs for minorities, but Nazir S. Bhatti, president of the Pakistan Christian Congress calls the decree a “mockery” for Christians.
In 2015, a government hospital in Lahore caused an uproar among human rights activists after its job advertisement reserved sanitary work for non-Muslims. Similar incidents have been reported in other parts of the country.
Today, most Christian men work in sanitation, while Christian women majorly work as domestic maids. About 95% of Pakistani Christians are involved with sanitary or domestic work, Bhatti said.