Pakistan: Christians Defying Purge in the NW Frontier Province

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Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 429 | Wed 16 May 2007

- plus Apostasy Bill passed for review.

Despite President Musharraf's assurances and his reported alliance
with the West in the War on Terror, religious liberty and security
for Pakistan's three percent Christian minority have deteriorated
markedly. Many thousands of Islamic madrassas continue to pump out
militant and angry Taliban who are fluent in the Quran and hungry
for jihad in Afghanistan as well as the Islamisation of Pakistan.

At the root of Pakistan's problem is the pro-Sharia, Islamist
Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA: an alliance of six pro-Sharia,
Islamist parties), an avowed enemy of secularisation, progress and
'enlightened moderation'. MMA holds the balance of power in
Pakistan's National Assembly and President Musharraf frequently
makes quid pro quo deals with them to advance his own agenda, which
is to stay in power. But by doing this Musharraf is enabling MMA
to advance their agenda, which is the Islamisation of Pakistan.

On 9 May the MMA tabled its Apostasy Act 2006 in Pakistan's
National Assembly. Under this Act, a male apostate (one who leaves
Islam) would receive the death penalty and a female apostate would
be imprisoned for life or until she 'repents'. Apostates would also
forfeit their property and lose legal custody of their children.
The testimony of two witnesses would be sufficient for a
conviction. The National Assembly passed the bill for review by a
standing committee. During the same session, the Assembly rejected
a draft bill moved by minority member, Mr MP Bhandara, to amend the
notorious Blasphemy Law.

The MMA governs Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP),
bordering Afghanistan. Islamisation, Taliban and lawlessness are
rife. Over recent weeks Islamic militants in NWFP have perpetrated
numerous terrorist bombings aimed at purging NWFP of everything un-
Islamic. In Charsadda district (154km northeast of the provincial
capital, Peshawar) bombs planted in local markets have destroyed
numerous video, music and CD stalls and barber shops. Owners of
stores trading in the 'un-Islamic' have been ordered to close or
'suffer dire consequences'. Female students in neighbouring Mardan
district have been threatened if they keep attending school. Girls
Higher Secondary School at Gumbat was bombed in the early morning
of 4 May. On Tuesday 15 May a suicide bomber killed at least 25
people in a restaurant in Peshawar. Strapped to the leg of the
bomber was a message in Pashto that included the warning: 'Those
who spy for America will face this same fate.'

Some 500-600 Christians live in Charsadda district. Last week their
churches were issued hand-written letters in Urdu with the
ultimatum that Christians had ten days to close their churches and
flee. Any who stayed and did not convert to Islam would suffer the
consequences. While some families have reportedy fled, others
despite their fear have declared publicly that they will not flee
and will not convert. Security has been tightened and uniformed and
plainclothes police are providing protection and patrolling local


* protect and 'set at liberty' the Christians of NWFP, especially
those in Charsadda district where Christians have been
specifically targeted and threatened. 'Our Father in heaven ...
deliver us from evil.' (Luke 4:18 ESV; Matthew 6:13)

* intervene and overrule in the standing committee's deliberations
over the MMA's Apostasy Act 2006: may God's purposes prevail. 'I
know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can
be thwarted.' (Job 42:2)

* do a great work in Pakistan, giving 'sight to the blind' so that
Pakistanis will see the ugliness of hate and repression, and the
beauty of peace and liberty. (Luke 4:18)

* mercifully liberate and enlighten many captive hearts and minds,
miraculously enabling them to reject Islamisation and embrace
truth; 'Salvation belongs to the Lord.' (Luke 4:18; Jonah 2:9)




In Pakistan's highly Islamised and lawless North West Frontier
Province bordering Afghanistan, Islamic militants have ordered
Christians in Charsadda to close their churches and flee. Any who
stay and do not convert to Islam would suffer the consequences.
Some families have reportedly fled, but others amongst the 600
believers have vowed to defy the terrorists, stay and not convert.
On 9 May, Pakistan's National Assembly considered the Apostasy Act
2006 which, on the testimony of only two 'witnesses', would condemn
male apostates (one who leaves Islam) to death and female apostates
to imprisonment for life or until 'repentance'. While the Apostasy
Act was passed and referred to the standing committee, proposed
amendments to the notorious Blasphemy Law were rejected. Please
pray for God's intervention in Pakistan.

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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
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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.