July 22, 2019

PAK7 and Shifting Attitudes Towards Christians in Pakistan

PAK7 held a discussion about shifting attitudes toward Christians in Pakistan at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC on July 19, 2019.

PAK7 International Chair and Director of the Oxford Centre, Michael Nazir-Ali discussed the the history of Pakistan and needs of the Christian community in there. PAK7 US President Mark Hausfeld outlined how Christian media can make a positive contribution to the country at large as well as the Christian Community.

Bishop Nazir Ali, who was born and ministered in Pakistan said the story of the Christian faith in South Asia began quite early, likely with the Apostle Thomas. Later the Moguls were quite sympathetic toward Christians, employing thousands of Christians in their army and civil service. Two Mogul princes were baptized. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, missionaries did medical and educational work and saw mass movements into Christianity.

Interestingly, in the twentieth century, the “All-India Christian Association made alliance with the Muslim League.” The helped gain independence for the new nation. The founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali-Jinnah, welcomed their participation and enthusiastically guaranteed equal treatment of Christians and other minorities. He indicated that “in the vote which precipitated the inclusion of west Punjab in Pakistan, there was a tie, but three Christian votes broke the tie, and only this vote “made Pakistan a viable nation at all.”

In Ali-Jinnah’s first speech to the assembly, he made a strong plea for religious freedom, saying one’s religion “had nothing to do with the state.” He also pointed out that in the flag of Pakistan, the green represents the majority population and the white stood for the minority population. The white bar was wide to indicate the inclusion of future minorities. Thus persecution and discrimination are at variance with the founding vision of Pakistan to be “the land of the pure.” PAK7 therefore represents a “hopeful beginning.”

Dr. Mark Hausfeld presented PAK7 as part of the solution to the problems indicated by Bishop Nazir-Ali.

Dr. Mark Hausfeld presented PAK7 as part of the solution to the problems indicated by Bishop Nazir-Ali.He outlined the PAK7 vision to share God’s love with all peoples, to equip the Church, to raise the profile of Christians and to contribute to the good of society. PAK7 will do so with high-quality programs made for all Pakistanis. We will focus on children and youth and produce programs people will love to watch. In this way we will be able to shift attitudes toward Christians in Pakistan and make a positive contribution to realizing the original vision of being “the Land of the Pure” where all Pakistanis can live in harmony.

PAK7 International Chair,Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, PAKA7 US President Dr. Mark Hausfeld and Bishop Marshall

PAK7 US Chairman Mike Underhill addresses the audience

Many thanks to IRD (the Institute on Religion and Democracy) writer Rick Plasterer, who provided as source material a more detailed article on Bishop Nazir-Ali’s talk for the IRD’s web site, which this article draws upon.