The new year is proving challenging for Pakistani churches. By mid-spring, some may be shut down. Typically, persecution against Christians in the country stems from society or family. However, FMI’s Bruce Allen says there is now a state-sponsored tactic targeting churches.
“On January 2, the government of the Punjab province, which is kind of the breadbasket of the nation, announced a crackdown on Christian churches across the province. The mandate was veiled with a lot of polite overtones…But the bottom line was that any church that the government deems does not comply with newly imposed security standards by March 31, the government will forcibly seal and close. And they say ‘this is our top priority’,” Allen explains.
Mandatory security updates
Government inspections for a few FMI supported churches are already scheduled. These churches have less than three months maximum to be in shape for security approval. This is a challenge. Christians in Pakistan are a minority; most are impoverished and oppressed. Their churches do not have funds for security updates.
“The mandate I have seen does not specify what the minimum-security requirements for the churches are. But, our national director in Pakistan explains that he believes that churches should immediately equip themselves, at the least, with metal detectors, and closed-circuit television cameras with off-site monitoring, and archiving of imaging,” Allen says.