Target: Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif
Goal: Provide equal rights and better protection for Christian minorities.
Christian minorities constitute only 2 percent of Pakistan’s 180 million people, but they have been marginalized in Pakistani society and subjected to acts of horrific violence. When Pakistan was partitioned in the departure of British colonial rule in 1947, the founding father of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, promised to treat minorities equally. However, his successors have done just the opposite. They introduced an increasingly strict observance of a conservative brand of Islam in government. Instead of equal integration, Christians continue to be segregated and threatened by religious terrorism. The recent bombing of a church in Peshawar that left 85 dead, is only the tip of a decades-long history of minority, targeted violence, and persecution. Christianity has been associated with the West and as a result, they are a convenient target for retaliation by actions they have no responsibility for.
Discrimination against Christians is embedded in the constitution and society. For example, non Muslims cannot serve in the higher echelons of political office like president, prime minister, or federal judge. They are also limited economically because it is very difficult for minorities to rise in rank in public sector jobs. Most Christians have menial jobs like cleaning up street garbage and sewage. The most fearful, discriminatory laws that all minorities in Pakistan dread is blasphemy. It is often enforced ambiguously, and the punishment for the convicted is death. The law is abused by people to underhandedly settle disputes. Mere accusations of blasphemy by a neighbor often escalate into mob, vigilante violence. For example, in March 2013, youth accused of blasphemy in the city of Lahore, resulted in the burning of 200 houses and 80 shops in a Christian neighborhood. Although there were police nearby, they did little to nothing to stop the mob. Christians are becoming disillusioned by the Pakistani government, because they seem to have no power to alleviate these social injustices or refuse to make substantial changes.
Sign this petition to demand better protection for Christian minorities.
Dear Prime Minister Sharif,
Christian minorities are living in fear in Pakistan because they do not believe the government can protect them from Islamic extremists. In general the Christian population does not carry any animosity towards Muslims, and they simply want to live in harmony. Ignoring violence against minorities will only embolden perpetrators to repeat their actions without impunity, and this will continue to erode the social fabric of Pakistan. The founding father of your nation, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, wished for a haven for Muslims when he lobbied for the partition of Pakistan, but he also envisioned a harmonious society where minorities could be integrated as equals. Not only has your government failed to protect Christian minorities, it has failed to stop the sectarian violence within your Muslim majority. Your country will continue to stagnate economically, socially, and politically if these issues are not addressed. Foreign and domestic businesses will not trust the safety and profitability of their establishments and capital investments in an increasingly unstable country. Capital and intellectual flight will threaten the future of your country.
The international community will continue to see your state as a pariah if these very minimal protections are not provided to all citizens of Pakistan. Please take action against abuses against Christian minorities and bring order to an increasingly lawless society.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: joel.parham via Flickr