Population: 201,942,393 estimated
Size: 803,940 sq km (three times the size of the UK)
Main language: Urdu
Other minorities: 2%
Pakistan, divided into East and West sections, was founded in 1947 as a Muslim homeland for Muslims by the Quaid e Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah who left India. In 1971, Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan, gained independence after a nine-month civil war.
He proclaimed that his countrymen “may belong to any religion, caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state”, but the reality is different for Christians who are today considered as outcasts.
The constitution of Pakistan establishes Islam as the state religion, and provides all its citizens the right to profess, practice and propagate their religion subject to law, public order, and morality. The constitution limits the political rights of Pakistan’s non-Muslims, and only Muslims are allowed to become the President or the Prime Minister.
Today’s Pakistan is a poor and populous country, suffering from internal political disputes, lack of foreign investment, and costly confrontations with India.
A culture of violence and corruption leaves religious minorities, especially Christians very vulnerable. Islamic fanatics who commit terrible atrocities to Christians and Christian communities are rarely prosecuted or punished.
Often Christians in Pakistan are treated like ‘second class’ citizens. They have limited political and civic rights and live under fear of discrimination and even of imprisonment under the auspices of the country’s ill-drafted 295C Blasphemy law.
Right now, CLAAS is campaigning for the abolishment of the Blasphemy law and other discriminatory laws, policies and practices.
A Sacrifice Never Forgotten…
Bishop John Joseph paid the ultimate sacrifice in front of the Pakistan’s Sahiwal court on the 6th of May 1998 in protest of the death sentence handed to a Christian girl, Ayub Masih, who was later released on the 15th of August 2002.
He wrote prior to taking his own life …
“I shall count myself extremely fortunate if in this mission of breaking the barriers, our Lord accepts the sacrifice of my blood for the benefits of his people”
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