Pastor Meets with Imprisoned Zafar Bhatti

Zafar Bhatti
Zafar Bhatti
Photo: Pakistan Christian Post

Zafar Bhatti has been held in prison for 12 years on allegations of blasphemy. Although initially sentenced to life imprisonment in 2017, the Christian man's punishment was changed to include the death penalty in January 2022. During his time in prison, Zafar has faced various health issues. Diagnosed with diabetes, he suffered two minor heart attacks in 2019 and another in 2020. For previously published reports on Zafar's case, go to this page.

On May 2nd, a pastor was able to visit Zafar at the Adyala Prison in Rawalpindi. The visiting Christian leader reported that Zafar's health remains a serious concern. Prison doctors have expressed alarm that his heart function is very poor and there are no further treatment options available. Zafar's wife, Nawab, is also in poor health. Blind in one eye, she has developed cataracts in the other. Although cataract surgery is being arranged, she is currently unable to visit her husband in prison.

The detained believer is continuing to appeal his sentence. While a court hearing had been scheduled for May 2nd, no judge was willing to hear his case. Consequently, the appeal session is currently listed as pending, with no set date. According to supporters of Zafar, the Christian man has a strong case, but judges in Pakistan have been unwilling to hear blasphemy appeals due to intimidation and pressure from the public to hand down convictions, regardless of the evidence. Prison authorities have recommended that Zafar appeal for bail on medical grounds, likely to avoid international scrutiny should his condition worsen in prison.

On behalf of Zafar and his lawyers, pray that God will grant them wisdom and guidance as they consider their next steps. May the Lord also intervene in the hearts of Pakistan's judges, in hopes they will be receptive to the Holy Spirit's promptings so that a successful appeal hearing will soon take place – leading to this long-suffering believer's safe release from prison. Please also pray for the health concerns that both Zafar and his wife are experiencing, asking our Heavenly Father to provide for their medical needs and ultimately grant them divine healing.

  • 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
    247,653,551 (2023 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 Asif Ali Zardari (2024)

    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.

Pakistan News

  • Blasphemy Conviction for Online Posts
    Furniture and possessions are strewn on a street. Some of them are burning.
    The riots in 2023.
    Photo: Morning Star News

    In August 2023, the Christian colony of Jaranwala was filled with violence after allegations of blasphemy were made against two brothers. During the rampage, as many as 400 homes and 26 church buildings were damaged or destroyed. For more details, and to view video footage of the attacks, see this page.

  • Wife of Nazir Masih Dies of a Heart Attack
    Naseem and Nazir
    Naseem and Nazir
    Photo: Morning Star News
     

    In May, shocking images of mob violence were revealed after 74-year-old Nazir Masih was falsely accused of burning pages from the Quran. The elderly Christian man was fatally wounded during the resulting mob violence, which also led to the destruction of his shoemaking business, along with several attacks against other Christians. Further details on the violent rampage are available here.

  • Christian Falsely Accused of Blasphemy Succumbs to Injuries
    A fire is burning in the street. People are milling about in the background. Nazir Masih's photo is also in a corner of the image.
    Angered mob members burned
    Nazir Masih's belongings in the street.
    Photos: ECSPE

    On May 25th, an angry mob rampaged through a Christian community in Sargodha, Punjab, instigated by false allegations that a 74-year-old Christian man named Nazir Masih had burned pages of the Quran. For more details on the attack, see this report. With deep sorrow, we regret to announce that Nazir succumbed to his injuries just after midnight on June 3rd.

  • Allegations Lead to Mob Violence
    A fire is burning in the street. People are milling about in the background.
    Angered mob members burned
    Nazir Masih's belongings in the street.
    Photo: ECSPE

    An angry mob consisting of hundreds of people rampaged through a Christian community in Sargodha, Punjab, on May 25th. Thankfully, police were able to disperse the crowd with tear gas and rescue at least two Christian families whose homes had been surrounded. However, significant damages took place during the mob attack, and 74-year-old Nazir Masih was left with life-threatening injuries. Stirred up by Islamic clerics who accused Nazir of blasphemy, the mob ransacked and burned the Christian man's home and shoemaking business. The crowd also attacked other Christians in the community and threw stones at responding police, injuring at least ten officers.