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Pakistani Christians faced worst religious freedom issues in year 2018. By Nazir S Bhatti

The Pakistani Christians always expressed their grave concerns on imposed election system which forced them to vote for Muslims in their constituencies and accept their representation selected by Muslim leaders on reserved seats in parliament.

As 2018 was election year in Pakistan and demand of voting right for them to elect their leaders with their vote in parliament on reserved seats became at full swing but unfortunately elections held on July 25, 2018, without due consideration to this due and genuine demand.

The Pakistani Christians enjoyed elections electing their representatives from national elections from 1985-98 but on intimation and pressure of powerful Pakistani establishment some religious leaders and Churches demanded Joint electorate and met military Dictator General Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad in 2000 and after that voting right for minorities were abolished and in 2002 national general elections that right was snatched and Muslim political parties were empowered to pick minority individuals of their choice and select on reserve seats in parliament.

The Churches and Christian clergy argued that Joint electorate system will make a way out to prevent Christians from false accusations of blasphemy laws as Muslims parliamentarians who will be elected by Christian votes will present legislation in parliament to stop misuse of blasphemy laws.

Unfortunately, none of Muslim member parliament member talked about stopping misuse of blasphemy laws but legislated military dictators’ orders of Joint electorate endorsed as part of constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan under 18th Amendment.

The Pakistani Christians witness rising abduction of Christian women and forcibly converting them to Islam, Gang rape of Christian women, murder of innocent Christians on petty issues and dispute covering under blasphemy laws, increasing unemployment of Christian youth in government and semi-government institutions and due share in resources of federation.

The only promising action was seen, the release of blasphemy accused Christian woman Asia Bibi was facing death sentence but again she was taken in protective custody by secret service agencies of Pakistan and moved to undisclosed location from release of jail where she was not even allowed to attend Christmas services; which disappointed all who expected freedom for Asia Bibi.

As conclusion, the year 2018 was not any year of relief for millions of Pakistani Christians but rising violence against them when justice was not ensured in any unjust incident against them.


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