With the increasing number of attacks on Christians in Pakistan, various Christian organizations in the United States as well as human rights organisations, have been pressuring the Pakistan Mission in the United Nations to take concrete steps to protect the community, Just Earth News (JEN) reported.
The Mission has received hundreds of such letters over the past year, sources informed. Incidentally, the increase in the attacks against Christians has coincided with the worsening law and order situation in Pakistan, due to the crumbling economy and deteriorating political situation, JEN reported.
These letters of protest by the organizations point to the systematic persecution of Christians, resulting in unjust punishments citing blasphemy, forced marriages of young Christian girls to older Muslim men, forced conversions in various parts of Pakistan and usurping of land and belongings of Christians. Recently, two Christian farmers were killed in two separate attacks In Pakistan.
Earlier in February 2023, Muhammad Waseem, a Muslim landowner in Punjab’s Khanewal district assaulted and killed Emmanuel Masih, a Christian farm labourer after falsely accusing him of stealing oranges from his property.
Similarly, a Christian guava farmer Allah Ditta was gunned down for resisting the stealing of his precious fruits by three Muslim youths. In both cases, the accused are still roaming free. Christian organizations have also highlighted the forceful marriage of a 15-year-old Christian girl, Sitara Arif, to a 60-year-old Muslim man, named Rana Tayyab.
Sitara was kidnapped last December and a case was registered only after two months despite repeated attempts by her family members.
Last year, a Christian priest, William Siraj, was gunned down in Pakistan’s northwest, in a targeted attack against the priests of the Church of Pakistan. Similarly, Christian schools in Pakistan which are run for poor Christian families are also targeted in the name of providing security, JEN reported.
In one such incident, a group of Islamists ransacked a school and looted the money meant for food and education of poor students in Sheikhpura city in Punjab province.
Pakistan, a Muslim-majority country, has a long history of Christian persecution. The country’s blasphemy laws have been used to target Christians and other religious minorities, leading to unjust imprisonment, torture and even death.
Every year, scores of such cases are registered which usually go unresolved. Many desist from complaining to the local law enforcement agencies as it will result in further isolation and targeted attacks, JEN reported.
The overall result of such targeted discrimination is the dwindling number of Christians in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, introduced in the 1980s, are notoriously vague and open to interpretation. The laws criminalize insults or acts deemed offensive to Islam and can carry severe punishments including the death penalty, JEN reported.
In reality, these laws have been used to silence dissent and target religious minorities and force them into conversions, forcefully marry Muslims and even usurp their land and belongings.