Pakistan: On a precipice - Church at risk

General es 19/11/08

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 505 | Wed 19 Nov 2008

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PAKISTAN: ON A PRECIPICE -- CHURCH AT RISK
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Al Qaeda-Taliban jihadists already control most of Pakistan's
northern Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) that border
Afghanistan. They hold on to power through terror and the regular
execution of 'traitors' (anti-Taliban Pashtun tribal elders). From
their bases in the self-declared 'Islamic Republic of Waziristan'
they plot the assassinations and terror attacks perpetrated in
major cities across Pakistan. The 13 September bombing of the
Marriott Hotel in the heart of the capital, Islamabad, which killed
80 and wounded more than 250, is believed to have heralded an
escalation in the jihad.

In recent months Pakistan's al-Qaeda-Taliban jihadists have
advanced their jihad right into the heart of Peshawar, the capital
city of North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Peshawar, some 150km
west of Islamabad on the road to the Khyber Pass and Kabul,
Afghanistan, is a strategic centre for both military deployments
and aid distribution. In the past week, terror has surged. On
Wednesday 12 November, gunmen ambushed the vehicle of an American
aid worker and strafed it with bullets, killing the aid worker and
his driver as they travelled through University Town in Peshawar's
'high security zone'. The next day, militants abducted an Iranian
diplomat after killing his escort. Then on Friday 14th, two foreign
journalists -- one Japanese and one Afghan -- were shot and wounded
in a botched kidnapping.

Various local, regional and international forces have vested
interests in advancing the jihad inside Pakistan. India has long
provoked insecurity in Pakistan for domestic political and geo-
strategic gain. Despite this, Indian intelligence agencies are used
as major suppliers of information in the 'war on terror'.
Similarly, America has frequently focused on short term
achievements and scapegoating that can be exploited in the American
domestic political arena for political gain rather than confess
failings, do the intelligence gathering, and reassess strategy.
Because of its alleged success at 'curing' Islamists of their
militancy, Saudi Arabia, the world's leading disseminator of
Wahhabism (hardline, intolerant, pro-jihad, pro-Sharia, anti-
Shi'ite and anti-Christian Islam), has been asked to assist in
pacifying the FATA. This may well mean that some interesting deals
will be brokered.

Saudi Arabia started pumping money-coated Wahhabism into Pakistan
after the 1979 Shi'ite Islamic Revolution in Iran, to the delight
of Pakistan's then Sunni Islamist military dictator, General
Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. As Islamisation and radicalisation escalated
through the 1980s, fuelled considerably by the 'jihad' against the
communists in Afghanistan, the rights and security of Pakistan's
Christian minority declined. Pakistan's infamous anti-blasphemy law
is one of the most savage tools of religious persecution in the
world. This law mandates that any person accused of blasphemy
against Islam or the 'prophet' (Mohammed) be immediately arrested --
no evidence is required and the trial comes years later and is held
under a cloud of Islamic threats and hysteria. The constant threat
of an accusation of blasphemy is a sword at the neck of every
Pakistani Christian. Wahhabist clerics, who are powerful simply
because they can mobilise strikes and riots, ensure that social,
political, educational, legal and religious reform is permanently
paralysed. But wide-scale reform is desperately needed and wanted
by the majority of urban Pakistanis.

An al-Qaeda-Taliban jihadist victory in Pakistan would not only be
disastrous for global security, it would be devastating for
Pakistan's three million Christians (two percent of the
population), some of whom are already suffering Taliban repression
or are fleeing jihad.


PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR:

* God to protect, sustain and provide for Pakistani Christians in
NWFP presently suffering under Taliban repression, persecution
and advancing jihad.

* God to draw the Pakistani Church into the scriptures and prayer,
building their faith, maturity and unity; may he protect them
from terrorism.

* the Holy Spirit to empower the witness of the Pakistani Church
so that confused, disillusioned Pakistani Muslims may be
transformed by the gospel of grace (Romans 1:16).

* God to demonstrate his radical grace by witnessing directly
through dreams and visions to jihadists throughout the FATA.

'And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul,
Saul, why are you persecuting me?" And he said, "Who are you Lord?"
And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."' (Acts 9:4,5
ESV)


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SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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PAKISTAN ON A PRECIPICE - CHURCH AT RISK

The security situation in Pakistan is deteriorating. Al-Qaeda-
Taliban jihadists, having already captured most of the north-
western tribal regions, are escalating their terror right in the
heart of Peshawar, the capital city of North West Frontier
Province. They are also ramping up their terror attacks in
Pakistan's major cities, including Islamabad. Pakistan's Christians
have seen their rights and security decline over nearly three
decades of advancing Islamisation and escalating radicalisation.
Pakistan's blasphemy law is one of the most insidious tools of
religious persecution in the world today. An al-Qaeda-Taliban
victory in Pakistan would be disastrous for global security and
totally devastating for Pakistan's three million Christians (two
percent of the population), some of whom are already suffering
under Taliban rule in the north-west. Please pray for the Church in
Pakistan.

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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.

RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.