Christians in Pakistan face a number of key challenges. Firstly, the lack of political activity, participation and knowledge of the Christians in Pakistan is astonishing. At a time when youngsters all over the world are looking for political democratic solutions for their problems, Christians in Pakistan remain ignorant of their political stature. This also presents opportunity for minority activists and NGOs, who can play a critical role in raising awareness regarding political rights which Christians in Pakistan possess. Moreover, seminars and workshops on "legal rights of Christians in Pakistan‟ for Christian youth may prove pivotal in the survival of Christians in Pakistan.
Secondly, Christians living in Pakistan have traditionally been an underprivileged class. The nonexistence of government initiatives to uplift the economic status of Christians presents an extremely grim future. The „quota system‟, implemented in many political and academic institutions, creates reverse discrimination, where members of majority feel discriminated. Thus, instead of creating harmony, it further deteriorates the fluctuating relationship among Christians and the majority. Micro-finance initiatives, technical colleges, business incubators, tech-labs and other forms of support for businesses owned by Christians can substantially improve the living standards of this persecuted community. Business activity is essential for the progress of any community. The delusional grandeur of the success, discipline and immaculate performance of Christian Institutions in Pakistan is long forgotten. Missionary schools, colleges and hospitals have been replaced by efficient and effective schools, colleges and hospitals. Christian Institutions need to revamp and restructure themselves to meet the challenges of the dynamic economic, social and technological conditions.
Thirdly, Christians in Pakistan remain isolated and segregated from local communities. They like to live in their own restricted neighborhoods and they support their own relatives. This has led to a lack of participation of Christians in the social issues of Pakistan. Christian Institutions in Pakistan need to raise their voice on the social challenges which Pakistan is facing and they must present their solutions to the competent authorities in order to positively contribute to the Pakistani society. Recently, there have been some efforts towards integrating with Muslim political leaders and activists by many Christian leaders. Muslim leaders are seen celebrating Christmas and Easter while Christian leaders are seen celebrating Eids. This harmonious activity needs to be translated into social and economic partnerships. Social contributions of Christians must have a proper agenda and must be brought to public knowledge in the right spirit.
When Pakistan achieved independence in 1947, the organization and activities of the Christian community changed drastically. Christians in Punjab and Sindh had been quite active after 1945 in their support for Muhammad Ali Jinnah's Muslim League. Even before the final phase of the movement, leading Indian Christians like Pothan Joseph had rendered valuable services as journalists and propagandists of the Muslim League. Jinnah had repeatedly promised all citizens of Pakistan complete equality of citizenship, but this promise was not kept by his successors. Pakistan became an Islamic Republic in 1956, making Islam the source of legislation and cornerstone of the national identity, while guaranteeing freedom of religion and equal citizenship to all citizens. In the mass population exchanges that occurred between Pakistan and India upon independence due to conflict between Muslims and followers of Indian religions, most Hindus and nearly all Sikhs fled the country. Pakistani Punjab is now over 2% Christian, with very few Hindus left. Christians have made some contributions to the Pakistani national life. Pakistan's first non-Muslim Chief Justice of Pakistan Supreme Court was Justice A. R. Cornelius. Pakistani Christians also distinguished themselves as great fighter pilots in the Pakistan Air Force. Notable amongst them are Cecil Chaudhry, Peter O'Reilly and Mervyn L Middlecoat. Christians have also contributed as educationists, doctors, lawyers and businessmen. One of Pakistan's cricketers, Yousuf Youhana, was born Christian, but later on converted to Islam, taking the Islamic name Mohammad Yousuf. In Britain, the bishop emeritus of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali is a Pakistani Christian.
There is no definitive figure, but Christians make up roughly 1.6% of the population of Pakistan, as many as Hindus, according to the latest official statistics.Christians mostly converted from Hinduism to escape the caste-dominated Indian society before the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. But changing religion didn’t help: the roots of discrimination based on caste run deep in both Indian and Pakistani society.The plight of Christians has persisted for decades, but there has also been a rise of hatred against Christians since the late 1980s, when the dictator Zia ul Haq introduced Pakistan’s blasphemy law, particularly used to persecute Christians.
But even among minorities, Christians are particularly singled out, for a number of reasons. They are visible: they live mostly in urban areas and are often employed in low-wage jobs. They are also the poorest of the community. In December 2015, the Capital Development Authority of Islamabad submitted a report suggesting that the Christian “ugly slums” of the capital be destroyed to keep the city clean. The CDA, in this unprecedentedly stupid move (“their Trump Moment” as the English daily Dawn put it), argued that the campaign of destruction would preserve Islamabad’s aesthetics and maintain its Muslim-majority demographic balance.The proposal was rightly contested by political parties, activists, and NGOs and thwarted by the Supreme Court, but it was a worrying sign of just how poorly Christians are thought of by the Pakistani elite.Christians are historically considered to have positively contributed to Pakistani statehood, thus helping the development of the Pakistani society, but today they, along with other non-Muslims, are forbidden from holding high office. The Christian vote in Pakistan is around 1.3 million, second to the Hindu vote, which is around 1.5 million. While the Hindu vote is mostly concentrated in the Sindh and Punjab regions, Christian voters are more scattered. Since the minority vote is restricted to a few electorates, political parties are not generally interested in serving them, though there is a lot of lip service to minority issues.Minority representatives protest the problem of segregation from mainstream politics. There is no doubt that the electoral system adds to the problems of already frustrated minority communities in Pakistan. Minorities don’t have the right to place their own candidates in elections. They can vote for any Muslim candidate in their constituency from within the general seats, and they also have the right to vote for a minority candidate, but they don’t have the right to choose these. They are instead given minority seats for which tickets are allotted by mainstream political parties.
The persecution of minorities has accelerated in Pakistan since 2012. Between the years 2012 and 2015, 351 acts of violence were carried out against minorities. According to the report, State of Religious Freedom in Pakistan, published by Jinnah Institute (2015): “Pakistani Christians faced intense and persistent threats, harassment and acts of violence during the reporting period from January 2012 to June 2015. Over 40 attacks of varying intensity targeted the Christian community, seven churches were damaged and 14 Christians were charged with blasphemy. Sexual assault cases; forced conversions and kidnapping were common and often went unchecked by the state. In 2013, an arson attack on a working class Christian settlement of Joseph Colony, and a suicide attack on the All Saints Church in Peshawar resulted in a heightened sense of insecurity among members of the Christian community, leading to an increase in the number of Christian citizens seeking asylum abroad. 2014 ended on a tragic note when a poor Christian couple, working in a brick-kiln, was burnt alive by a frenzied Muslim mob due to allegations of blasphemy in Punjab province. This pattern of persecution and violence continued in 2015 as two churches were bombed in Lahore's Christian neighborhood of Youhanabad. The situation led to communal rioting when a Christian mob allegedly lynched two Muslim men in the aftermath of the church attacks. In contrast to responses to attacks by Muslim extremist groups targeting religious minorities, the Punjab police displayed a noticeably higher level of commitment in investigating alleged acts of aggression by members of minority groups. Protection of minority groups remained a low priority”.