How many Christians are there in Pakistan?
There are 4.1 million Christians in Pakistan – which is only 1.9% of the country’s population of more than 212 million people.
How are Christians persecuted in Pakistan?
In Pakistan, Christians are considered second-class citizens and are discriminated against in every aspect of public and private life. Believers who have converted from Islam are the most vulnerable to persecution.
Christian women and girls are particularly vulnerable in Pakistan. Reports indicate there is a silent epidemic of kidnappings, forced marriages and forced conversion of Christian girls and women in Pakistan. These ‘marriages’ mean that a girl’s parents don’t have legal recourse to rescue their (often underage) daughter – and it is a widely-used tactic to persecute minority faith communities, such as Christians.
Christians, particularly Christian men, are often compelled to take lower-state jobs referred to as ‘chura’, a derogatory word meaning ‘filthy’. The Covid-19 crisis led to an increase of aid being provided to Christian day labourers only if they converted to Islam. Church leaders can be arrested if they don't abide by the authorities' wishes, and these arrests are often intended to act as warnings to intimidate the Christian minority.
Pakistan's infamous blasphemy laws continue to be leveraged to accuse Christians and other non-Muslims of insulting the Prophet Mohammed or the Quran. False accusations are often made to target Christians after an unrelated dispute, and even a false accusation can lead to mob violence.
What’s life like for Christians in Pakistan?
Arzoo is one of the many Christian girls who has suffered from targeted persecution in Pakistan. She was 13 when she was taken from her parents by a 44-year-old Muslim man. Two days later, Arzoo’s father was informed that the abductor had produced a marriage certificate stating Arzoo was 18 and had converted to Islam. A court gave custody to the ‘husband’.
“Arzoo is a third-generation Pakistani Christian girl”, says a source who wishes not to be named. “She is one of many who go through the trauma of abduction and forced conversion. Christians in Pakistan are asking for prayer for the legal procedures and trial that lie ahead, for justice to be upheld and lives and families to be safeguarded.”
Thankfully, after outcry both inside and outside Pakistan, judges ordered Arzoo’s release. She still needs healing from her terrible trauma – and it’s not certain that the legal process is over. And, of course, there are many other Christian girls who still need justice, and protection from future attack.
“We are thankful to those Pakistanis who have raised their voice on behalf of Arzoo,” says a local church leader. “We are thankful to those brothers and sisters around the world who have continued to pray for Pakistan.”
Is it getting easier to be a Christian in Pakistan?
Pakistan has fallen three places in the World Watch List, and the persecution score has fallen slightly. While there has been a very small decrease in pressure, which is good news, the reason that Pakistan’s position has fallen is more connected with persecution worsening in other countries.
How can I help Christians in the Persian Gulf?
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Pakistan. Your prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors is active in the Persian Gulf countries through our network of partner churches, but for security reasons, we cannot say what we do where.
Father God, may our brothers and sisters in Pakistan know that they are loved and valued by You today - that You see them as treasured and precious. Please restore and heal the many girls and women who have been abducted, and comfort believers who are currently imprisoned. Help the church in Pakistan to shine as a light in the darkness.