No one really knows the size of Pakistan’s Christian minority, nor of the entire population. The most recent census -- conducted in 1981 -- gave a rough count of 84 million people of whom not quite a million were Christian. The unofficial 1990 estimate is 108 million, with an explosive birth-rate of nearly 4 percent. That could soon mean up to 2 million Christians in this land of Islam.
The data published by the Pakistani government this January shows that the number of Christians in the country is approximately 3, 8 million. Their condition today can be described as catastrophic. In 1986, a law on blasphemy was adopted in Pakistan to become a tool for persecuting religious minorities. This law is often used to squaring personal accounts and to seize other people’s property. This law has become a tool for the tough persecution of religious minorities, especially Christians. Last year, at least 161 people were sentenced under the law of ‘blasphemy’ in Pakistan. Nine people accused of ‘blasphemy’ and ‘outrage against Islam’ were executed extra judicially. Even Muslim legal scholars admit that 95% of all the accusations of ‘blasphemy’ are false.
Christians are deprived of their rights under this law because a Muslim can report an outrage against Islam without providing witnesses or proof. The law on ‘blasphemy’ demands that the accused should be immediately sentenced. Recently the death sentence for Asia Bibi – who, asked about her faith, replied that she was a Christian and was accused of ‘blasphemy’ – was reconfirmed. As of February 1, 2012, over 580 000 people in 100 countries signed an appeal to the Pakistani government to release Asia Bibi. At present, her health is in critical condition.
A young mother has been falsely accused of “blaspheming” Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, because she rebuffed attempts by relatives who had converted to Islam to force her to renounce her Christian faith, family members said.
Police arrested 26-year-old Shamim Bibi, mother of a 5-month-old girl for “blasphemy” in Punjab Province after neighbors accused her of uttering remarks against Muhammad.
Several relatives had converted to Islam and tried to get Bibi to also leave her Christian faith. Neighbors claimed that in the argument over the two religions, Bibi had somehow blasphemed Islam.
The young mother is charged with breaking Section 295-C of Pakistan’s “blasphemy” law which is punishable by death or life imprisonment. The statue is following:
“Whoever by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”
If one rejects Islam, it is almost impossible not to violate the blasphemy law in some way or another since one is rejecting the claims of Islam and the prophet Mohammed. The controversial statute is far too vague and the punishment is ridiculously severe.
Response: Christians by their very presence and continued faith in Christianity could be charged almost any time under this vague law since their very refusal to join Islam stands as a rejection and an “innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly” against the so-called prophet of Islam and his religion.
There is no justice for Christians or minority religions in Pakistan as long as this law can be manipulated and used. According to Chained4Christ an organization working for persecuted Christians highlighted this, that the radical Muslims and extremists has passed a resolution that they would kill all the accused of blasphemy in the country or even they have left Pakistan. They would find them out and will perform their religious duties to wipe them out, and then no one could dare to do the act of blasphemy at all. As per my information what they mentioned in the resolution they can use all kinds of power and scarifies of their lives for this very cause, even it was decaled that Mumtaz Qadri the killer of Governor of Punjab has done a great act of honour for Islam we are proud of him. In this resolution it is specially and forcefully described the name of Robert Seraj who was even falsely trapped in blasphemy case would be killed as they find him and his family. It is been expressed that Robert Seraj used to work with news paper and Evangelist as well, they would never spare him in any case. Here, I would like to mention some more Christians who were forced to leave Pakistan because they were fixed falsely in blasphemy cases, and this their own homeland became hell for them. There was no chance for them to stay here anymore to save their precious lives; if they come back the cases are still pending and Islamic militants have showed their determination that they will not spare them at all accused will be wiped off from the surface particularly they mentioned the name of Robert Seraj and many more whom are on target.
In 2011, Aslam Masih, a 30 year-old Christian, died in a Pakistani prison. He too was arrested on the charge of ‘blasphemy’. For several months he was denied medical aid because of ‘safety considerations’. Recently two more Christians became victims of false accusations – the Protestant bishop Joseph Pervez and Pastor George Baber. They were forced to escape the country after they were incriminated ‘blasphemy’ and threatened by extremists. Both Christians planned to found an organization for the protection of the Christian community in Pakistan.
Many Christian women in Pakistan are forcefully married off to Muslims and forced to change their faith. In 2011, the Asian Human Rights Commission reported that annually about 700 Christian young women in Pakistan are forced to embrace Islam due to pressure or unwanted pregnancy. More often than not, such crimes remain unpunished. After an 18 year-old Catholic girl was killed early this year for her refusal to adopt Islam, the General Vicar of Faisalabad, Fr. Khalid Rashid, stated in his interview to the Fides agency that ‘cases like this one happen in Punjab every day’. Thus recently, the European mass media wrote about Sonya Bibi, a 20 year-old Christian who was beat up and raped by a group of Muslims and about Rebecca Bibi, 12, who lost sight after she was beat up by her Muslim employer.
According to the Conference of Catholic Bishops in Pakistan, over 700 cases of forceful conversion to Islam are registered annually in Pakistan today. The report entitled‘Monitoring Human Rights-2011’ records numerous cases of human rights violations and discrimination against Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan. In January 2012, a Catholic priest who had served in the country for eight years was arrested in Pakistan.
There are so many cases mentioned as above taking place in every part of Pakistan on daily bases. Mostly the prime victims are only helpless and voiceless poor Christians. There are also numerous cases where the Islamic militants have kidnapped Christian girls, forcing them to marriage and conversion to Islam. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 27/3/2012)
Government officials give these statements that Christians have no problem at all they equal rights but the reality is entirely different which is completely ridiculous, even the whole world knows about it. Government of Pakistan is well aware of it but cannot do anything because Islamic militants and extremists are very powerful and they are in every department. It’s on the record that these Islamic militants and extremists have passed resolutions against Christians whom are even charged under false blasphemy cases would be killed. Government of Pakistan cannot take any action against them. Here, I would request Chief Justice of Pakistan, Honourable Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to take notice of such injustice and Somoto action these very important matters too. So, persecuted Christians of Pakistan can feel that they are still in the main stream of the country.