Pakistan has a population of 160 million; 95% are Muslim and Christians constitute a little less than 3% of the population. The constitution establishes Islam as the state religion and evangelization among Muslims is banned. In 1998, Sharia law was adopted in Pakistan, under which Christians have limited rights and today, even these limited rights are being challenged.
The Fides news agency recently reported that the Pakistan government, as part of a “devolution” to provide greater provincial autonomy, plans to abolish its national Ministry for Religious Minorities. Fides quotes unidentified sources in Pakistani politics who state that “the measure will remove issues about minority rights from the agenda of the central government”. Christians and Hindus have also organized press conferences and public meetings calling for a reconsideration of the decentralization measure.
In a further development, the Islamist political party Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islami has asked Pakistan’s Supreme Court to declare certain Bible passages as “blasphemous.” If their demand is not met, the political party will request that the Bible be formally banned in the country.
Amidst this uncertainty, Auxiliary Bishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore said Pakistani Christians should remain careful — and prayerful. “We must be wise and instead ask people to pray for us, to remember us before God.”
“What we need right now,” he said, “is prayers and patience.”