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Religious Minorities Remain Vulnerable to the Taliban’s Brutal Rule

10/06/2021 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the government of Pakistan has launched a global effort to raise support for the current Taliban government of Afghanistan. Senior-level officials in Pakistan are engaging in this effort through speeches, op-eds, and interviews, as well as diplomatic efforts with Western governments. Much of this push revolves around calls for more development assistance in Pakistan.

The effort comes as the hardline Taliban government begins to assume control over the country and implement its agenda through various segments of Afghanistan. The interim government has been criticized for various maneuvers that include the appointment of a cabinet that does not reflect the diversity of the country and clamping down on religious minorities and women, among several other hardline measures.

During his speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said regarding the current government of Afghanistan, “There is only one way to go. We must strengthen and stabilize the current government for the sake of the people of Afghanistan.”

Turkey is also calling for recognition of the Taliban on the world stage. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined Prime Minister Khan in asking the UNGA to recognize the Taliban. Turkey and Pakistan have recently strengthened their own alliance and are collaborating on establishing the Taliban as a player on the international stage.

Some have argued that an appeal on behalf of the Taliban makes sense for Pakistan as Afghanistan continues to progress into a humanitarian disaster. The country is seeing significant price surges in basic items like cooking oil. The looming economic disaster creates the distinct possibility for a regional humanitarian disaster. Afghanistan’s economy was largely supported by foreign aid over the last several years, but that aid came to an end with the withdrawal of the United States and its allies in late August.

In the wake of these realities, Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for the world to “strengthen and stabilize” the new government in Kabul. Such calls will likely go unanswered given the horrendous human rights record of the Taliban and the hardline government they are creating.

Christians and religious minorities throughout Afghanistan are living in fear of being targeted by the Taliban. As the Taliban took over the country, reports of threats and intimidation of the local Church became commonplace. The Taliban’s calls for general amnesty have been received with distrust throughout, and little hope remains for a reformed Taliban.

Afghanistan’s Christians make up a small community estimated at approximately 8,000-12,000 people. Most Afghan Christians are converts from Islam. Their conversion makes them prime targets for killing by the Taliban as they are considered apostates and subject to the harshest punishments under the Taliban’s extreme version of Islam.

Matias Perttula, the Director of Advocacy for International Christian Concern, said, “We’re deeply troubled by extremist maneuvers of the Taliban against human rights and religious freedom. Prime Minister Khan and President Erdogan’s calls to support the Taliban government in the wake of their atrocious and dismal human rights record is a desperate attempt at legitimizing evil. We are deeply concerned for the welfare of the Afghan people and especially Christians and religious minorities. We hope and pray that their rights and liberties will be respected and honored going forward. We hope to see a brighter day for Afghanistan and the people who call it home.”

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