Abstract

Religious minorities, including Christians, are facing severe discriminations in numerous
Muslim-majority countries. Yet in no country are Christians so systematically – and
institutionally – persecuted and victimised as in Pakistan. Here, the plight of the Christian
community ‘fully illustrates the vagaries, miseries and dangers of life as a religious
minority in Pakistan’ (Gregory 2012: 196). Besides the existence of anti-Christian
sentiments among individuals and groups (especially Jihadists, Islamist pressure groups,
and fanatic clerics), the main reason for the persistently deteriorating situation of the
Christian community in Pakistan is that the state itself is one of the main drivers of
suppression and persecution. Pakistani authorities at all levels, in alliance with radicalised
Islamists, actively sponsor violations to human and fundamental (political) rights of
Christians. As such, the persecution of Christians in Pakistan must be described as a
domestic form of state-sponsored terrorism. The suppression of Christians is systemic and
can be found all over Pakistan, from the centre to the provinces, in urban as well as in rural
areas. This was highlighted by the South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF) in a Policy Brief
published in 2018, which argued that ‘Pakistan plays a double game as a member of the
ICCPR [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights] that also persecutes religious
minorities. The oppression of minorities has become systemic in Pakistan’s top-down and
bottom-up jihad nexus of state and non-state actors forming alliances that work together in
targeting minorities’ (SADF 2018: 1). The current Government of Pakistan (GoP) seems
to continue this trend, instead of protecting the country’s minorities in general, and
Christians in particular. This not only constitutes a clear breach of numerous international
covenants but also betrays the electoral promises by Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan. This
SADF Research Report stresses three important patterns of state support to the persecution of Christians. First, that all types of governments, civilian and military, were involved in
the persecution and discrimination of Christians. Second, that there is no difference among
any of the major political parties regarding discrimination of Christians – all major political
parties in Pakistan are engaged in this persecution. Third, it is argued that the Pakistani
state is failing to protect its minorities and their rights not because of a lack in capacity but
because of a lack in political will. Furthermore, it is argued that the withdrawal of the
US/NATO combat troops from Afghanistan will further deteriorate the security and living
conditions of Christians in Pakistan. Finally, this reports states that PM Khan’s open
endorsement of Jihadism and an authoritarian form of governance, namely following the
“Chinese model”, means even worse news for the Christian community.

For the entire article click here- Minorities in Pakistan

Content Courtesy- SADF Research Report

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