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2021 WORLD WATCH LIST #5

PAKISTAN

Country rank

5

Persecution score

88.16

Last year’s rank

5

Region

Asia

Persecution Type

Dictatorial paranoia (Very strong), Islamic oppression (Very strong), Ethno-religious hostility (Strong), Organized corruption and crime (Strong)

Persecution Level

Extreme

Population

208,362,000

Christians

4,052,000 (1.9%) Data source: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed February 2020).

Main Religion

Islam

Government

Federal parliamentary republic

Leader

Prime Minister Imran Khan

In cooperation with local partners and churches, Open Doors supports the church in South Asia through:
• Socio-economic development
• Literacy classes
• Emergency relief
• Bible, discipleship, pastoral training
• Christian literature and Bible distribution
• Trauma counselling
• Women’s ministry

ABOUT PAKISTAN

What does persecution look like in Pakistan?

Christians in Pakistan face extreme persecution in every area of their lives. Believers who have converted from Islam face the greatest levels of persecution, but all Christians are considered second-class citizens in this strongly Islamic country. They are given jobs perceived as low, dirty and dishonorable, and can be victims of bonded labor. There are some Christians among the middle classes, but they are still considered inferior to their Muslim counterparts and often face severe workplace discrimination.

Christian girls are at risk of abduction and rape, and are often forced to marry their attackers and coerced into converting to Islam.

Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws are used to target Christians, and Islamic extremist groups vehemently “defend” these laws, including attacking or killing those believed to have contravened them.

Christian churches do exist, but those that are active in outreach face severe persecution from society.

How women experience persecution

Christian young women and girls are particularly vulnerable in Pakistan. They are often abducted, raped, forced to marry their abductor and converted by force. The authorities do not protect the women and girls, and regularly side with the perpetrator. Girls and women are frequently forced to testify in court that they converted voluntarily. Christian families who try to challenge the marriage are often accused of harassing the Muslim family. Once married, the Christian woman has no protection against her new “family.”

There have also been reports of targeted trafficking of Christian girls for both bonded labor and a prostitution ring that smuggles Christian girls into China.

How men experience persecution

There are hundreds of cases against Christian men under the country’s harsh blasphemy laws. Often these are used to target Christians after a dispute relating to work or tenancy, rather than genuine cases. Christian men live in constant fear of blasphemy allegations, destruction of their property, arrest, imprisonment, beatings, torture and execution.

What has changed this year?

Pakistan remains one of the hardest places to live as a Christian, and violent persecution against Christians and church buildings continues to be particularly bad. 

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

All Christians are at risk of persecution in Pakistan, particularly those from a Muslim background.     

How can I help Christians in Pakistan?

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Pakistan?

Open Doors raises prayer and  support for persecuted believers in Pakistan.

Pray

– Pray for courage for Christians in Pakistan to speak about their faith, despite their fears that their words may be used against them. Pray for wisdom for them, and that God will give them the right words to say. 

– Pray for protection over Pakistan’s churches, especially around holidays such as Christmas and Easter, when terrorist attacks have happened in the past.

– Pray for protection for young Christian women and girls. Pray for those who have already been abducted and forced to convert and marry, that God will comfort them and give them strength. Pray that they will know His love, even in their terrible circumstances. 

A PRAYER FOR PAKISTAN

Father God, it looks almost impossible to follow You in Pakistan, but we know that with You all things are possible. Please draw close to men, women and children who are suffering extreme persecution for their faith, showing them Your love, steadfastness and power . 

Your gift today will show our persecuted brothers and sisters in Pakistan, and other countries in the World Watch List they are loved and remembered by you.