The deteriorating situation of minorities in Pakistan is leaving few options for their survival in the country. Every year, more than 5,000 families from religious minorities leave Pakistan.
Pastor Siddique Sindhu is just one example of a Christian who fled after surviving brutal torture due to his work as a Christian pastor. He is currently in the U.S., hoping to seek asylum.
The following is his personal account of what he endured as a Christian that forced him to flee his home and country:
“I am an ordained and theologically trained pastor from Pakistan. I started my career as a government servant in the ’90s working for the Motorway Project of the National High Authority.
“I experienced a calling to serve God, and therefore, I resigned from my job and trained for year to be a pastor. I was ordained in August 2001.
“After two years working in the Christian community, local Muslims started accusing me of converting Muslims to Christianity. In my many talks with them, I tried to make it clear that I was a messenger only, and that if people accepted Christianity, it was God working.
“My wife, children and I started worrying that the situation was becoming dangerous for us. On April 19, 2007, while coming from my church, I was kidnapped and taken to a location I did not recognize.
“I soon realized that many of the kidnappers were the same people who had send me threatening messages during my work as pastor. As they had demanded before, they wanted just one thing – that I accept Islam. I refused straightaway.
“That’s when they started torturing me, eventually breaking both of my legs. Afterwards, they screamed at me and tried to force me to stand up. (I was semi-conscious and incapable of obeying them.) They continued to hit me, trying to fracture my skull.
“I remember hearing one of the leaders say I should be left in the middle of the road so people would know “what happens to people who try to convert Muslims.”
“In the end, they agreed and I was left on the main road. I don’t know when or how, but someone found me and took me to the hospital where I was operated on for my injuries.
“For two years, I was unable to walk. It took another year before I could resume my work.
“When I re-started my ministry, I expanded my work to address human rights abuses, especially helping Christians who were facing persecution because of their faith.
“But again, I was chased by the Islamist fundamentalists. This time they didn’t attack me physically, but rather brought various criminal cases against me.
“I was sent to jail where I struggled for my freedom. After a long legal battle, I was finally granted the right to post bail. Once on the outside, I realized there was no other option: My family and I decided I had to leave the country.
“In 2016, I left Pakistan forever and applied asylum in the U.S. My family is still in Pakistan. Even though they live in a different city from where these events occurred, I constantly worry for their safety.
“My case has not been determined, but I have strong faith and pray that the decision will be favorable. I still have plans to work for the persecuted Christian community in Pakistan. I hope God will help me materialize my dreams.
While Pakistan is a predominantly an Islamic state created in the name of Islam, the country’s founder wished to create a secular state where all citizens — irrespective of their color, caste, creed, gender or religious allegiance — could live together in harmony.
However the fanatics are now part of the country’s legislative assemblies. Since the controversial Objectives Resolution of 1949 passed, which made Pakistan officially an Islamic state, several discriminatory laws against religious minorities have passed, causing serious difficulties to the survival of minorities in the country.
Every passing day brings more challenges to Christians as well as to other minority communities. Due to the severe escalation of human rights abuses, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom designated Pakistan as a “country of particular concern.”
At the recent UN Human Rights Commission Universal Periodic Review (where the human rights records of all UN member states are reviewed every five years) , U.S. representative Jesse Bernstein stressed the necessity of repealing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws which are frequently used against religious minorities.
Time and again, minorities, human rights activists, religious leaders and their places of worship and villages are attacked by Muslim fundamentalists. It is time for this to change.