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ICC Note: The asylum plea of a Pakistani Christian family in the U.K. has thrust the issue of Christian persecution in Pakistan back into the light. According to Open Doors World Watch List 2017, Pakistan is ranked the fourth most difficult country for Christians in the world. Blasphemy laws, forced conversions to Islam, and terrorists targeting Christians and their places of worship only name a few of the challenges Christians in Pakistan face on a daily basis.

06/14/2018 Pakistan (Daily Times) – Pakistan’s Christians, for the most part, live an essentially precarious existence. A few manage to flee the country as a last resort to protect themselves and their families. Yet the path to asylum is not an easy one. And even when successful, the journey to permanent status is never guaranteed. Meaning the risk of being sent back is ever-present.

Take the case of Maqsood Bakhsh. He and his family fled Pakistan back in 2012 after two Christians were fatally shot outside a court in Faisalabad some two years earlier; while in police custody, no less. The victims were killed over rumors that they had penned a controversial pamphlet that offended Muslim sensibilities. That Bakhsh was implicated in the blasphemy allegations meant the lives of he and his family were in danger.

Naturally, the primary care of duty rests with the Pakistani state. But that being said, it is unfathomable that after six long years of seeking asylum in Britain — a nation that still likes to trade on the outdated image of fighting for the underdog — all applications have been rejected. On the grounds that the Home Office does not consider this country particularly unsafe for Christians.

This underscores the myopia of the British authorities. Not least because the Christian support group Open Doors World Watch List 2017 ranked Pakistan the fourth most difficult country (of a total of 50) in which to be a Christian. And members of this minority faith are not just at risk from the religious right but terrorist groups, too. The Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a breakaway outfit of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) that pledges spiritual allegiance to ISIS, have intermittently targeted churches since 2015. Meanwhile the state has, at best, been ineffective in the face of such targeted hate-crimes.

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