No eggs; just a broken shell.
While the Christian world celebrated Easter last month, a 7-year-old Christian Pakistani girl will remember Easter 2014 as the day she was gang raped. Although her persecutors delayed her family from seeking medical care, she was finally hospitalized three days later in critical condition. And when her family was able to file a police report, all accused rapists were released.
This marks only one incident signaling a devastating 22 percent increase in violence toward religious minorities from last year. The latest annual report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) called 2013 “one of the darkest years” for Pakistani Christians. This, in a country already tagged last year on Open Doors’ Persecution Watch List as the world’s number 13 most dangerous country for Christians. In this year’s list, Open Doors bumped Pakistan up to number 8.
According to human rights group HRCP, 687 people were killed last year in a 22 percent increase from the previous year in more than 200 sectarian attacks. Meanwhile, 1319 people were injured, a 46 percent increase over last year.
The nation’s smaller communities of Shia, Christian, Buddhist and Ahmadi believers suffer discrimination by the growing militant Islamic presence. Indeed, institutionalized minority discrimination has increased since Pakistan’s government began pursuing a policy of Islamization in the 1980s.
The country’s notorious blasphemy law, which imposes the death penalty on anyone defaming Mohammed and commands life imprisonment for anyone defiling the Qu’ran, has been used to justify an increasing amount of beatings, abductions, murder, rape and forced conversion.
“Minorities in Pakistan are increasingly feeling insecure since the present government came to power in June last year,” said HRCP secretary general IA Rehman.
The increasing and imposing presence of the Pakistani Taliban, called Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), places pressure for last year’s newly placed government to enforce Sharia Islamic law. A Taliban faction is blamed for numerous suicide bombings and other attacks in Pakistan, including September’s twin suicide bombing of a church that left close to 100 dead and many more injured. The HRCP report stated this was the highest death toll ever in a single attack against Christians in Pakistan.
The Peshawar Anglican Diocese bishop, the Rt. Rev. Humphrey Peters, reported that the attack represents a “total failure of the new [provincial] Government… and [that the] government has failed to provide security to the minorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.”
Now, following a seven-year insurgency which took thousands of lives, the Pakistani government has planned peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban. This could have “immense repercussions” on religious minorities, according to Rehman.
“How can you talk to people who are killing civilians?” said Tahir Naveed Chaudhary, chairman of the Pakistan Minorities Alliance. “We are just wasting time and we will lose more people. This is a message that the government must take concrete steps against terrorists.”
PRAY for the Pakistani government to relent on the blasphemy laws and stand up to the Taliban (The Bible, Isaiah 33:22).
PRAY for the oppressors of the Pakistani Believers to see the Holy Spirit released upon them and their captors in the midst of torture (The Bible, 1 Corinthians 2:4-5).
PRAY for the raising up of leaders of integrity who will assist those who most need their protection (The Bible, Psalm 138:8).
PRAY for the global body of Christ to stand in prayer for the persecuted brethren (The Bible, Matthew 1:1).