The issues faced by the Pakistani Christians are multidimensional and complicated; and part of the tragedy is that our Christian community is neither fully aware of the depth and breadth of the problem, nor have any clue about how to effectively deal
First of all they don't have strong leadership, which could give them hope and a clear sense of direction. Secondly they have the problem of living in a country, where they face persecution and discrimination; and are economically exploited by the majority community. Thirdly they look towards the so-called Christian west, where an average person on the street is not even aware that there are any Christians in Pakistan. Even a large number of western Christians are also unaware that there are millions of Christians in Pakistan.
Another problem is that wherever a few Pakistani Christians get together, they would mostly discuss these above mentioned problems; and very little effort is done in brainstorming about the feasible solutions to these issue faced by the Christian community in Pakistan. We are like a person whose house is on fire; and all he is doing is to talk about that fire, and how damaging it is for his house. But unless he is going to say, that my house is on fire, and this is what I am going to do to put it out, obviously nothing is going to change. Similarly it is the time for the Pakistani Christians to think and discuss the solutions to the problems they face; because we have discussed the problems for the last 54 years of our history, and nothing has changed. I agree that there is no simple solution to these complicated issues, but there are certain things that can definitely be done. There are certain steps, which only those of us living overseas can take; whereas there are certain steps that only those of us living in Pakistan can take. In this article, I will primarily focus on the measures that can be taken by Pakistani Christians living overseas, especially those of us living in the UK and the rest of the developed western world. There are four major issues, which the Pakistani Christians living overseas can address. These issues are:
1. Economic development
2. Political action & awareness
3. Developing strong voice and recognition
5. Religious values
The economic problem is an overall issue of Pakistan as a developing country, and the poor GNP level is pushing more and more people below the poverty line every year. Though Christians being poorest of the poor in Pakistani society bear the brunt of it more heavily. We need to have a forum of Pakistani Christians in the UK, who have economic know-how; and the issues related to economic development. We probably don't have the sources for initiating macro-development such as establishing mills, factories and huge industrial plants for the Pakistani Christians; but we can definitely focus on the issues related to the uplift of Pakistani Christians through projects of microeconomics. Possibilities in the area of alternative technology can also be explored in the geographical and cultural context of Pakistan. Moreover, there are organizations and groups in the west, who are committed to the elevation of poverty and hunger through long term sustainable development; and their support and expertise can be requested to release the Pakistani Christian community from the vicious cycle of poverty and deprivation.
The issue of political influence is very crucial for any long-term change. Though Pakistani Christians living in the UK cannot be part of the active political process in Pakistan, but there are other political activities they can engage into for the betterment of their fellow brethren back home. Actively participating in British politics at every level, and lobbying the British MPs and MEPs is one such important activity. There are already capable leaders like Nasir Saeed, George Felix, James Shera, Dr. Peter David and C.J. Gill, who are doing some good work through writing letters to the people in authority; but sadly there is no coordinated corporate effort being done to achieve the desired results.
The issue of not having any recognition and lack of voice is very depressing, because even a vast majority of Western Christians is not aware that there are any Christians in Pakistan; let alone recognize the problems faced by them. Media is a very powerful medium for getting yourself recognized, and we need to pay more attention to this field; by focusing on secular and Christian media alike. I would like to acknowledge the individual efforts done in the UK by Pakistani Christians such as Shareef Masih Ahsan, S.H. Singh, Yaqub Masih, Benjamin Lawrence and Mr. Dutt.
A large percentage of British Pakistani Christians is very weak in terms of awareness about our Christian faith, and the situation with the second and third generation is even worse. This poses a huge stumbling block in the way of our sharing our faith with people of other faiths; because how we can confidently share our faith with others, when we don't have any clue about it ourselves. Nominal Christianity is on the rise among Pakistani Christians in Pakistan, and especially among those of us living in the UK. Those Pakistani Christians involved in ministry in the UK should be part of a forum, where they can meet at least once a year for discussing various approaches and methodologies about the role of Pakistani Christians in the church growth, both in Britain and Pakistan.
There is an urgent need for"Ideology Council" of Pakistani Christians in the UK, working as an umbrella for these four different forums or task groups to address the above-mentioned four issues effectively. There is a need to have passionate and experienced Pakistani Christians involved in these forums, which are determined to see the uplift of their brethren in Pakistan.
Due to the limitations of this article, I have only been able to scratch the surface about various feasible solutions to the problems we face. I would encourage those of you with more knowledge in any of the above-mentioned areas, to please enlighten us all; that how we can help Pakistani Christians stand on their own feet, and become a prosperous and vibrant nation.