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ICC Note: Now that Imran Khan and his PTI party have won the majority of the votes in Pakistan’s national elections, many are looking to see what the new government will do for the country’s marginalized minorities. Among these minorities are Christians, who often treated like second class citizens. Will the new government under Khan focus any attention on assisting Pakistan’s persecuted Christian community?

07/30/2018 Pakistan (Daily Times) – Most Pakistanis have reveled in the defeat of far-right hardline Islamic parties such as the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek (AAT), Ahle-Sunnat-Wal-Jammat (ASWJ) and others in the 2018 general elections.

While it may be a relief that candidates such as Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who promised to ‘put every blasphemer in his grave’ and ASWJ leader Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi who vowed that “if his party gained power by the evening, and if any Shia is left alive in Pakistan by the next morning, then change my name” — did not win many seats, what may trouble many of us, and rightly so, is the attitude of many conservatives in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and some statements by Imran Khan himself. In a conference at Islamabad before the elections, Khan stated that “we stand with Article 295-C and will defend it”. Moreover, Many PTI members courted pro-Qadri constituencies, by asking them if ‘they would vote for the party that executed their leader’. This blatant support of a law that condemns Ahmadis and other non-Muslim minorities has caused many to refer to him as ‘Taliban Khan’ once again.

While the new Prime Minister claims that his policies will benefit the ‘victims’, he speaks mostly of the victims of poverty, corruption and feudalism. What of the most persecuted section of Pakistani society – victims of radical religiosity? Whether it be the Ahmadis whose boycott of the elections has been ignored by all major parties, the Shias who face intense violence despite being Muslims, and the Pakistani Christians and Hindus who have been allocated a second-class citizen status since 1947 — there is little space in Pakistan for someone who is not a conservative Sunni Muslim.

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For interviews with William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].