Church of Pakistan

The Church of Pakistan came into being on All Saints day in 1970, as a result of union amongst the Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and the Scottish Presbyterians. The motivation and the compulsion was to fulfill the last wish of our Lord “ that they may be completely one.” The impulse for this came from the Ecumenical conference of Edinburgh 1910 and the birth of the Church of South India in 1947.

It still maintains very strong and meaningful relationship with its “mother Churches” of the West, through participating both in bilateral and multi-lateral programs and engagements. It also keeps its doors open to other Churches, friends and well-wishers, who want to engage with the ministry in this part of the world.

Church Contribution in the Creation of Pakistan

The Church community has its roots in the Christian faith brought to South Asia by St. Thomas, one of the Twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. It somehow vanished during the subsequent invasions in the Northern areas of South Asia and survived only in South India, through the traditions of the small Mar-Thoma Church. It had its rebirth through the modern missionary movement from the West, so its present roots go back almost 200 years. It is almost equally divided between  Roman Catholic and Protestant  communities, along with the mushrooming of many small Independent and Pentecostal movements. The socio-economic position of the Community is rather poor, and unfortunately majority of them are still engaged in menial jobs. There is an urgent need to make them a viable and stable socio-economic Community. However, her faithfulness to the faith in Jesus Christ is solid and stable.

The Constitutional of 1973 and the Rights of the Minorities All constitution of Pakistan provide equal rights to religious minorities. They have freedom to worship and follow their culture. The 1973 Constitution provides fundamental rights to all citizens which provide important protections to religious minorities. The constitution of 1973 provided to minorities laid great emphasis of Fundamental Rights. The Fundamental Rights are given as under; All citizens are equal before law. No person should be deprived of life and liberty. There should be no discrimination on the ground of religion, caste, creed, sex or place of birth. All form of slavery and force labour are guaranteed. The freedom of speech, expression, association and cultural activities are guaranteed. The freedom of religious teaching of minorities within there institutions are granted. Safeguard against discrimination in government services and provided protection to the maintenance and development of the religious institutions of all communities are provided. The state shall safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities, including their due representation in the Federal and Provincial services. The state should give the following protections to the minorities:

  1.  Freedom of trade, business or profession
  2.  Freedom of speech
  3.  Right to information
  4.  Freedom to profess religion and to manage religious institutions.
  5.  Safeguard against taxation for purposes of any particular religion.
  6.  Safeguard as to educational institutions in respect of religion.
  7.  Provision as to property.
  8.  Protection of property rights.
  9.  Equality of citizens
  10.  Right to education
  11.  Non-discrimination in respect of access to public places.
  12.  Safeguard against discrimination in services
  13.  Preservation of language, script and culture” (Ahmed, 2010)

The Former Federal Minister of Law (PPP), Dr. Babar Awan said in his article “Wakalat Nama” published in Roznama Dunya, according to the article 36, protection of minorities: “The State shall safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities, including their due representation in the Federal and Provincial services” (Awan, 2014).

Minority representation in the Parliament and Provincial Assemblies are:

National Assembly 10 reserved seats Provincial Assemblies

Punjab                                                                                  8 seats

Sindh                                                                                     9 seats

Khyber Pakhtun Khwa                                                 3 seats

Balochistan                                                                        3 seats

The Christian Community:

The Christian community which has traditionally enjoyed full freedom of worship and peace in Pakistan, has sometimes been targeted here. However, unlike India where the Christians, including nuns and priests, have been hounded and killed mercilessly by the bands of RSS and other militant Hindu factions. The Christians in Pakistan have been generally treated with respect and tolerance which is the hallmark of Islamic teachings. Enjoying this freedom, the Christians have contributed their potential to different areas of national development. They have run some of the best educational institutions and have operated quality health care centres and hospitals. They have been peaceful even in the face of the worst provocation and violence.

Given this congeniality enjoyed by the Christians, the attack on a church comes as a shock that was difficult to absorb. President Pervez Musharraf who sent two of his ministers to Bahawalpur to express solidarity with the families of the victims, issued a strong statement vowing the government would do everything in its power to track down the culprits and bring them to justice. Those who expressed their horror and revulsion at the killings included all notable, political and religious leaders. Two delegations of Ulema’s met Religious Affairs Ministers, Col. Retd. SK Tressler to convey him their sympathy and anguish at the killings. Condemning the incidents in strongest terms, the leaders of Jammat-eIslami and JUI rightly emphasized the point that Islam teaches tolerance to its adherents and the attack on a gathering of worships could not be the done by the Muslim.

“The treatment meted out by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to the enemies of Islam at the Conquest of Makkah is actually what Islam stands for. It is this spirit of peace and co-existence in Islam that Christians in Pakistan have led their life free of any fear or threat to their life and property” (Wattoo, November 2001).

When the Pakistan Government established the Minority Affairs Commission, an important Christian leader Dr. John Joseph, Bishop of Faisalabad Diocese, welcomed the establishment of the Commission for identifying the problems faced by the minorities. He said that it was a right step in the right direction which would help the neglected minority to join the mainstream of national development. He said that nomination for the Commission should be made amongst the qualified persons having adequate knowledge of religion so that commonly acceptable legislation be proposed to redress the basic problems of minorities.

He said that equal rights should be provided to them in getting administration and employments. He adds that personal laws for Christians also require immediate legislation rights. He says that we shall try to resolve these problems through the Commission. Dr. John Joseph says that although minorities in Pakistan are enjoying equal rights, yet the ideal system to establish this equality is joint electoral system. However, he conceded that separate electoral system should continue for the interim period to pave the way for joint electoral system by elevating the socio-economic conditions of minorities through special development schemes launched by minority representatives elected under the present system.