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06/08/2021 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – According to Pakistan Today, Christian religious and political leaders have expressed serious concerns over the results of Pakistan’s latest census. The Population and Housing Census – 2017, much delayed, reported that Pakistan’s Christian population is in decline.

According to official estimates from the 1998 census, Christians made up 1.59% of Pakistan’s total population, then 132 million. However, the 2017 census reports that Christians now comprise only 1.27% of the total population of 207.68 million.

We believe that the figures pertaining to the Christian population have been grossly underreported in the 2017 census,” Bishop Dr. Azad Marshall told Pakistan Today. “Several factors may have contributed to the inaccuracy of the data, including ignoring Christians living in small pockets across the country, incomplete filling of the census forms as a large number of our community members are not educated enough, as well as general ignorance of our people towards the importance of obtaining national identity cards and registering the birth of their children.

However, we can also not rule out hidden agendas behind the shockingly low numbers of the Christian population,” Bishop Marshall continued.

Due to the lower numbers reported in the 2017 census, Christians will likely be allocated less political representation in the Pakistan’s national and provincial legislatures. More Christians will also likely be excluded from government welfare and employment schemes due to the undercount.

Albert David, a member of the National Commission for Minorities, said that Christians should carry out their own census in four or five districts to check the authenticity of the 2017 census. “If the figures do not match the government numbers, we can then challenge the census results in the courts and demand a fresh census of minorities,” Albert told Pakistan Today.

Across Pakistan, Christians face high levels of discrimination due to their religious identity. This discrimination often determines what jobs they obtain, schools they attend, and even neighborhoods they live in. This discrimination has resulted in Pakistani Christians being overrepresented among Pakistan’s poor and destitute. The undercount of Pakistani Christians in the 2017 census, and its consequences, will likely only further these challenges for the country’s Christian community.

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