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Shahbaz Bhatti was
assassinated for
speaking out against
the blasphemy laws.

Four years after Pakistan's government minister Shahbaz Bhatti was killed for objecting to the country's blasphemy laws, his brother, Paul Bhatti, told members of the United Kingdom's parliament that religious freedom in Pakistan appears to be growing.

Over the past 20 years, religiously motivated violence has killed an estimated 60,000 people within the country. Mindful of the risks Christians and other minority groups in Pakistan are facing, Paul states, "We are still facing the cruel and harsh realities of violence against the weak and voiceless." Yet, he also conveys a sense of optimism: "I am pleased to share with you that I feel and see that Pakistan is changing." This is largely due to the success of various military and civilian operations against terror, including the banning of extremist organizations and the weakening of terrorism.

Unfortunately, the present blasphemy laws, which are embedded in Sections 295 and 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code, can carry the death penalty. And there are no provisions to punish a false accuser or a false witness of blasphemy. Last October, the Lahore High Court upheld the death penalty for Christian mother Asia Bibi who was accused by coworkers of allegedly defiling their water bowl and blaspheming Islam. Previous reports on Asia's case are available here.

Following the assassination of former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who condemned the death penalty on behalf of Asia Bibi, the Supreme Court has upheld the penalty for the charged assassin, Mumtaz Qadri (the late governor's bodyguard). "We can gain inspiration and courage by looking to those who have gone before us; who stood for peace, justice and unity at such great cost," summarizes Paul Bhatti. He is hopeful that the peaceful, tolerant and religiously plural society envisioned by the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, is achievable.

Pakistan's Christian citizens, and all of us who share their burdens in prayer, can thank the Lord for the country's successful strides against terrorist activity. May this be the beginning of even greater achievements politically, judicially and spiritually in the future, including the need for amendments to the existing blasphemy laws. Please continue to uphold Asia Bibi, the Christian mother of five who is still on death row, asking for God's intervention, favour and ongoing protection over her life. As Paul Bhatti and others generate awareness about the plight of Pakistani believers like Asia, may the Lord increase their influence and courage so they can effectively motivate others to stand for truth and righteousness, and thus bring about more positive changes in their nation.

Current Ministry Projects

VOMC partners to train Christian women in sewing skills throughout Pakistan to provide a sustainable source of income for their families and encourage them in their faith and witness for Christ.

Project Funds: Families of Martyrs, Women’s Ministry

Country Information

Population
238,181,034 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Punjabi (44.7), Pashtun [Pathan] (15.4), Sindhi (14.1), Saraiki (8.4) Muhajirs (7.6) Balochi (3.6), Other (6.3)

Religion (%)
Islam (96.5), Other - Christian and Hindu (3.5)

Leader
President Arif Alvi (2018)

Government type
Federal parliamentary republic

Legal system
Common law system with Islamic law influence

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Pakistan

Pray that amendments will be made to Pakistan's existing blasphemy laws so that the country's citizens – including its children – will be protected from injustice and abuse. May our Lord's mercy and justice prevail, not only in the judiciary system but also in the hearts of the country's militants. Ask Him to transform their "hearts of stone" into hearts that are receptive to His love, mercy and the workings of His Holy Spirit – not only for the purpose of protecting the Christian minority but also for the salvation of their own eternal souls.

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