Christians and Hindus who fled from a military offensive against insurgents in tribal northwest Pakistan say the Taliban treated them with relative tolerance, contrary to the militants’ brutal reputation.
Some 2,000 people from the country’s often embattled religious minorities have fled an army operation that began in mid-June in the North Waziristan tribal district for the nearby town of Bannu, where many have taken refuge in Christian schools.
Like nearly half a million other residents who have escaped the fighting, they spoke of the hardship of living in a zone that has been caught in conflict for more than a decade.
North Waziristan, on the border with Afghanistan, has been a haven for Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants for years.
But despite the Taliban’s demand for an Islamic state and their claim on numerous bloody attacks on minorities, a number of Christians and Hindus from their home base told AFP they had not been singled out for mistreatment.
A small Christian and Hindu community has lived in the restive tribal belt since the days of British rule.
Pakistan’s population of 180 million is around 97 percent Muslim, with minorities like Christians and Hindus often facing severe discrimination in education and the workplace.
They have also come under attack by Islamist militants in recent years, including a suicide bomb attack on a church in the city of Peshawar last year that killed nearly 100 people.
Many report that the Taliban were sympathetic towards them following the Peshawar bombing.
- Pray the Taliban will continue to show tolerance and find Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior
- Pray for peace and religious freedom in Pakistan
- Pray the enemies of our Lord will be quick to fail and swift in seeking Christ’s salvation