Pakistan achieved independence in 1947. In 1956 it became an Islamic Republic, while at the same time guaranteeing freedom of religion and equal citizens rights. In 1971 East Pakistan became independent as Bangladesh, taking with it the majority of Pakistans Hindus.
So Pakistan became an increasingly Islamic state squeezing the smaller religious minorities.
Under the governments of Ali Bhutto and Zia ul-Haq the introduction of ever more stringent Islamic Laws transformed the country. Sharia Law was introduced by President Zia and reinforced by President Sharif in 1991. Since 1991 tensions between Muslims and Christians (2% of the population) have been deteriorating. The introduction of the “Blasphemy Laws” are having devastating consequences for all minorities, isolating them from the rest of the population, especially Christians. Many are presently languishing in prison under this legislation which is open to very varied interpretation.
Equally damaging is the abduction and forced conversion of women and girls. It is estimated that some 700 are abducted each year, often to be raped and then forced to marry Muslim men, which also involves forced conversion.
New laws allow the government to monitor and close down NGOs, and any church not registered as an NGO will be considered illegal. Church activities are closely watched and reported on.
On top of these harassments, the Christian churches face the added threats from Islamic militants, including the Taliban, with violence, bombings and threats with many killed and injured each year.
Many Christians also suffer from institutionalised discrimination, with occupations seen as low, dirty and derogatory being officially reserved for Christians most of whom are from the poor classes.
The scandal of the bonded workers in the brick making industry, where whole families end up becoming virtual slaves is well documented.
Conversion to Christianity is growing, though the fear of being labelled “apostate”.which carries the threat of the death penalty, and certain ostracism in society, makes many hesitant to make life changing decision for Christ.