Pakistan
Islamic Republic of Pakistan
September 5-8
Asia


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GEOGRAPHY

Area 796,095 sq.km, which includes 83,700 sq.km of the third of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan. Arid mountains in the north and west. Sindh desert in southeast. Vast irrigation schemes in the fertile Indus valley.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 156,483,155 +2.81% 197 per sq. km.
2010 199,744,986 +2.41% 251 per sq. km.
2025 262,999,723 +1.49% 330 per sq. km.

Several million migrant workers in Persian Gulf and elsewhere.

Capital Islamabad 1.1 mill. Other major cities: Karachi 11.9m (maybe 16m+); Lahore 6.25m; Faisalabad 2.3m; Rawalpindi 2.1m; Multan 1.5m; Gujranwala 1.45m; Hyderabad 1.4m; Peshawar 1,325,000. Urbanites 33%.

PEOPLES

Indo-Aryan 78.8%.

Panjabi-related 56.4%. Panjabi 75m; Saraiki 15m; Hindko 5.8m; Dogri 840,000. Northern plains, politically dominant.

Sindhi 11.8%; 18.5m in southeast.

Mohajirs (Urdu-speaking) 7.6%. Indian Muslim immigrants at time of independence. Mainly Karachi and Hyderabad.

Northern peoples 2%. Numerous smaller groups. Largest: Khowari (Chitrali) 370,000; Shina 400,000; Kohistani 260,000; Kashmiri 140,000; Torwali 90,000.

Tribal peoples of Sindh 1%. 14 groups; largest: Koli(4) 288,000; Bagri 276,000; Marwari Bhil (Dhatki, 3) 256,000; Meghwar Bhil 220,000.

Indo-Iranian 18.5%

Pathan 13.1%. Speaking Pushtu (Pashtun), two main groups: Pakhtun (mainly Pakistan) 8.1m; Pashtun (mainly Afghan – many refugees) 12.3m, straddling the Afghan border.

Baluch 4.2%. 6.7m in the west.

Persian 1.2%. Tajik 1,450,000; Dari/Hazara 340,000; Iranian 40,000; Wakhi 25,000; Parsee 7,000.

Dravidian 1.6%. Brahui 2.6m who live among the Baluch.

Tibetan 0.5%. In the far north and Kashmir: Balti-Purik 800,000.

Other 0.6%. Uzbek 640,000; Arab 155,000.

Literacy 38% officially, many estimate it is nearer 25%. Official language Urdu, which is becoming widely used by all. All languages 69. Languages with Scriptures 5Bi 6NT 9por 16w.i.p.

ECONOMY

Main exports are sports goods, textiles, garments and heroin. Much of the agricultural land and commerce is controlled by a few, very wealthy, families. About 40% of government income is spent on the military and development of nuclear weapons. Other factors besieging the economy include uncontrolled population growth, lack of water and land, plus the effects of the Afghanistan wars and refugees, and a high level of corruption. The infrastructure of the country is being eroded through lack of investment. The extreme Islamist movement is deeply influencing the state such that economic collapse could be hastened. HDI 0.508; 138th/174. Public debt 36% of GNP. Income/person $500 (1.6% of USA).

POLITICS

Muslim politicians insisted on a separate state resulting in the partition of British-ruled India at independence in 1947. Pakistan's subsequent disastrous history includes four conflicts with India, the loss of Bangladesh, the destabilizing effects of two decades of war in Afghanistan and political upheavals. There have been a series of inept civilian governments and autocratic military dictatorships each as corrupt as its predecessor. Policy has increasingly been dictated by an Islamist extremist minority which has close ties with the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. The civilian government of Nawaz Sharif was overthrown in a military coup in 1999.

RELIGION

An Islamic republic. The government of Nawaz Sharif pursued a policy of Islamization of the legal system, taxation, public life and discrimination against all Muslim and non-Muslim religious minorities despite widespread popular misgivings. Shari'a law has been increasingly applied – even to Christians and Hindus – despite its contravention of the constitution. This gives numerous opportunities for the majority Sunni Muslims to oppress and persecute Shi'a Muslims, Ahmaddiya, Hindus and Christians. Despite promises, the military ruler, General Musharraf, has backed away from regulating the procedure for blasphemy charges in the face of violent threats by Islamists. Yet there remains a surprising degree of religious freedom and the government regularly assures minorities of their freedom and opportunities under the law. Persecution index 17th in the world.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Muslim 96.08 150,349,015 +2.8%
Christian 2.31 3,614,761 +3.7%
Hindu 1.50 2,347,247 +2.8%
Baha'i 0.06 93,890 +6.6%
Other 0.03 46,945 +11.5%
Traditional ethnic 0.02 31,297 -5.2%

The Ahmaddiya are a deviant sect of Islam that is not considered Muslim by the state. However, they are included in the Muslim percentages here.

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 20 1.28 1,997 +5.0%
Independent 29 0.32 502 +4.9%
Catholic 1 0.70 1,100 +2.6%
Marginal 2 0.01 18 +1.4%

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Ch of Pakistan P 1,856 464,000 1,160,000
Catholic C 100 540,000 1,100,000
Presbyterian Ch of Pak P 210 75,000 420,000
Assoc Reformed Presb P 50 35,971 150,000
Salvation Army P 650 40,000 57,000
National Methodist P 214 19,231 55,000
Full Gospel Assemblies P 60 13,932 45,000
Christian Brethren P 112 11,000 36,000
Seventh-day Adventist P 79 5,986 15,000
Ch of God (Cleveland) P 70 4,519 14,000
Baptist Bible Fellowship P 50 1,500 2,700
Evang Alliance P 8 700 2,000
Jehovah's Witnesses M 10 501 1,700
Other denoms [41]   2,276 368,800 556,000
Total Christians [54]   5,745 1,581,200 3,614,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 0.4 616 +6.9%
Charismatic 0.3 447 +5.5%
  Pentecostal 0.1 82 +6.0%

Missionaries from Pakistan
P,I,A 174 in 15 agencies; nearly all in Pakistan.

Expatriates to Pakistan
P,I,A 579 in 66 agencies from 23 countries: USA 172, UK 103, Canada 83, Korea 42, Australia 38.



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Challenges for Prayer

1 After half a century of misrule, Pakistan needs a government that allows a real democracy to develop and spends its income on economic rather than military development, ends a culture of uncontrolled corruption and gives a fair deal to all its citizens. Pray for the binding of the spirit of lawlessness and violence that has crippled this nation, and for the raising up of leaders of integrity.

2 Islamism has severely damaged the economy and social cohesion of society. It has trampled on the constitutional rights of women and minorities, subverted the judicial system and brought fear and violence to this nation. The growing network of Islamic schools is poisoning the next generation with hatred for India, the West and Christians, and extolling a willingness to die fighting for Islam. Pray that this ideology might be so discredited that its influence may be broken.

3 Shari'a law has only been partially implemented, but its effects for minorities are dire. There is a mandatory death sentence for 'disrespect to the Prophet' and a life sentence for desecration of the Qur'an. The potential for malicious rumours and false charges against Christians has been realized. Innocent people have been sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. Any judge that seeks to dismiss the charges is intimidated and threatened. Pray for the abrogation of discriminatory legislation – specifically, the blasphemy law – implementation of a fair system of justice and a police force that impartially applies the law.

4 Christian missions have been working in the land since 1833. Christian standards and institutions have had a deep impact on the country – a fact which Islamists want to ignore. Presbyterians, Anglicans, Methodists and, later, Salvation Army missionaries pioneered the work. There was a great turning to the Lord from among six of the 30 scheduled Hindu castes between 1890 and 1930. This was accompanied by revival in 1904. Other missions, predominantly evangelical, entered Pakistan around the time of independence. There are few Muslims who would think of becoming Christians. Most despise the humble origins of the church here which first reached the Hindu 'untouchables', or Dalit of the Panjab, or tribal peoples of the Sindh. Pray that these barriers of culture, religion and history may be broken down. Pray for more effective partnering between groups in their ministry.

5 Christians who come from a Muslim background are particularly under threat with the implementation of shari'a law. There are possibly thousands of secret believers, but only a small, yet increasing number have confessed Christ and identify openly as Christians – for it could lead to their martyrdom. Pray for protection, multiplication, and for good integration into culturally appropriate Christian fellowships. All too often such believers have the double trauma of rejection by their community and then non-acceptance by the Christian community.

6 The Church has grown despite many social disadvantages. Many Christians live in deep poverty and on the margins of society but the last two decades have shown a distinct improvement through the emphasis on education with more embarking on professional careers. Pray for:

a) Revival. Lack of teaching, poverty and illiteracy have hastened the lowering of spiritual standards, nominalism, corruption and the practice of occultism among those who profess to be Christian. There has been little significant conversion growth for several decades except among the Mawaris and Koli in the Sindh desert.

b) Spiritual leadership in the churches. There has been a tragic history of leadership struggles, court cases, factionalism and divisions in some denominations. Pray that they may be models of spirituality and godliness.

c) Courage to share their faith with non-Christians. Everything conspires to make Christians fearful, introspective and silent, yet despite the negatives, there is a considerable degree of freedom to openly share the gospel. Only a few have a burden for reaching Muslims. OM teams have challenged many believers to become involved in outreach – pray that this challenge may affect whole congregations.

d) Unity. PEACE is the Pakistan Evangelical Alliance formed to encourage mission and evangelism. Pray that it may also bring about greater unity.

e) A missionary vision. Some Pakistani believers have started fellowship groups in a number of Middle Eastern lands, some with an outreach to non-Christians but there is much fragmentation in the work. Pray for those involved in such ministry, which is often at considerable personal risk.

7 Persecution and intimidation have become a growing reality since 1991. Christians are barred from some professions and the most menial tasks are reserved for Christians alone. They have been politically marginalized by voting on separate electoral rolls. Their testimony in court is half the value of a Muslim's – meaning there is little redress in the courts and little publicity in the press for violence and blatant discrimination against them. Beatings, imprisonments and even some cases of murder go unpunished, as well as the destruction of property and churches. There are a number of incidents where Christian girls have been abducted, raped, forced to become Muslim and, even when their abductors are taken to court, charges against them have been dismissed. In 1998 a whole Christian village of 30,000 was razed by a Muslim mob on the basis of a rumour. Fear and dismay have gripped the Christian community. Pray that these sufferings may draw Christians close to the Lord and strengthen them in faith and courage so that they may bear a pure testimony to those who oppress them.

8 Leadership training. There are 12 Protestant and 6 Catholic theological colleges and Bible schools, the best known being the inter-church/mission theological seminary and United Bible Training Centre at Gujranwala. Pray for this and also the TEAM-related Bible Institute in Rawalpindi. Too few prospective leaders respond to the call of God, and lack of finance limits many yet others have emigrated to the West. Pray that a higher proportion of Pakistani Christian leaders may be able to serve in national churches without needing the support of foreign agencies. A number of denominations use TEE courses from the Open Theological Seminary in Lahore which has 900 students in 60 centres. New, innovative ways of training new leaders, despite their poverty and lack of education are needed.

9 The unreached. Over 160 ethnic groups and 40 language groups are without viable, indigenous congregations and an effective cross-cultural missions initiative. Few countries present a greater challenge for missions. Pray specifically for the larger groups mentioned in the lists above. Also pray for:

a) The Baluch and the Brahui. Some 75% of the world's 4.5m Baluch live in Pakistan. There are only about 10 known Christian Baluch in the world, though there are reports of some groups of believers in Baluchistan. Over 1 million live and work in Karachi. Baluchistan is largely desert and not open for expatriate workers. Pray for the inter-agency fellowship that is reaching out to this strategic and restive people. There are only a few known Christians among the Brahui, who live among them. FEBA broadcast every week in both Baluch and Brahui; the JESUS film is in both languages.

b) The Pathan of the North West Frontier with Afghanistan who are famed for their combativeness and clannishness. They control the lucrative drug and weapons trade in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Over 2m live in Karachi. There are only two known Pushtu-speaking congregations, and a steadily growing number of believers. A handful of expatriate workers are committed to ministry among them (TEAM, North West Frontier Fellowship and others operating as NGOs).

c) The peoples of the far north. Over 27 smaller people groups live in the mountain valleys of Kashmir, Kohistan, Swat, Dir, Chitral, Gilgit and the Hunza. The Kalash are largely animist, but turning to Islam since 1975. All the other peoples are Muslim – Sunni, Shi'a and Ismaili. Pray especially for the Burusha of the Hunza, the Tibetan-related Balti, the Khowari of Chitral, the Shina, as well as the numerous smaller groups. There is not one known church among any of these peoples and only a handful of Christians. The medical work of the Brethren has been the means of many openings for the gospel.

d) The Panjabi majority on the Indus plain. Christians are almost exclusively from the Hindu minorities that were originally at the bottom of the social order. Christar, CBI, SIM and CMS have planted growing churches among them. Few Muslims have been reached.

e) The Sindhi. CBI, FEBI and some other groups are seeking to reach them, but there are less than 50 known believers and no truly Sindhi congregation of believers. FEBA broadcasts in both Sindhi and Panjabi. A Sindhi Partnership has been formed linking churches and agencies with ministry to them.

f) Karachi, which is a lawless city. With its huge population (double the official figures) inter-ethnic conflicts, kidnappings and violent crime are endemic, yet it is a key to reaching the country. There are an estimated 1 million drug addicts in the city, and CMS and others have commenced a ministry to them. The 120,000 Christians in the city are almost entirely Panjabi and Goanese. Pray for outreach and church-planting teams to be set apart for every ethnic group in the city – especially for the Urdu-speaking Mohajirs, the 500,000 Ismaili Muslims, the 7,000 wealthy Parsees and numerous Afghan refugees.

g) Afghan refugees. Their numbers have fallen but there are around 1.8 million in camps and increasingly in the cities. Most are Dari- and Pushtu-speaking, but there are also many Uzbek, Tajik and other groups represented. For years Christian aid organizations provided valuable material and spiritual aid, but the ministry has been greatly reduced due to extremist Muslim pressure, persecution, kidnapping and even murder of Christian workers. Pray for those who continue this thankless task for Jesus' sake, and pray for eternal fruit. There are a number of Afghan believers in Karachi and Islamabad.

h) The Ahmaddiya. This is an aggressively missionary-minded Muslim sect but largely driven underground in Pakistan by intense Muslim persecution. Few of the three million Ahmaddiya world-wide have ever come to Christ, but their sufferings are making them more open for the good news.

10 Young people are a major subject for prayer since 50% of the population is under 15. Only 25% of children go to school and exploitative child-labour affects 6 to 20 million. Drug abuse is a major problem. Few ministries major on either Christian or non-Christian youth. Good work is being done by SU, CEF, CCCI, Church Foundation Seminars and YFC, but the labourers equipped for these specialized ministries are few. Pray for the ministry of SU staff workers. Pray for PFES(IFES) who have 15 staff workers and an expanding ministry among 1,000 or more Christians in 20 universities and colleges.

11 Expatriate workers continue to minister in the country and there are many opportunities for service. Most are serving within existing church structures and institutions, and a minority in pioneer outreach and church planting. Pray for their protection, their fruitfulness and for creative opportunities to reach the numerous unreached peoples and areas. Some major agencies: Interserve (83 workers), TEAM (58), CMS (41), SIM (24), OM (10).

12 Pakistanis have emigrated all over the world in recent years – especially to the Middle East, North America, Britain and Australia. Very few Muslims of Pakistani origin have come to Christ in these lands, and Christians have done relatively little to reach out to them. This is particularly true for the 500,000 living in Britain. Pray that some of these emigrants might gain a burden to return to share the gospel.

13 Christian help ministries:

a) Bible translation. This is a big challenge with only 7 languages having a NT or Bible. Translation teams are working on 16 languages, and a further three need extensive revision. Research may reveal that up to 55 languages require NT translation teams. Pray for expatriates and nationals to be called and equipped for translation work.

b) Bible correspondence courses. These have proved a useful means for teaching Christians and non-Christians and a major factor in Muslims coming to Christ. Pray for the inter-mission Pakistan Bible Correspondence Institute – with five regional centres and 40 staff with 9-10,000 students actively involved. Also pray for courses run by the Swedish Pentecostals. Pray for the staff and students, and that there may be eternal fruit.

c) Literature production. The MIK Christian Publishing House was pioneered by Brethren missionaries. Here a wide range of Christian literature, including SGM publications, is translated, edited and published. Pray for vision and faith for writers, staff and readers alike.

d) Literature distribution. The Bible Society has a vital Bible printing, translating and distribution network. CLC has two bookstores and 9 workers. OM teams have distributed millions of leaflets and books around the country.

e) The JESUS film has been widely shown in 13 languages with possibly 16% of the population having viewed it. A further 12 languages are in preparation. Pray for the protection of projection teams and receptiveness in every community where it is shown.

f) Christian radio. The lack of mature, trained Christians in many languages hinders the faster expansion of this vital ministry; yet new broadcasting languages are being added by the 'Radio by 2000' partnership of TWR, FEBA, HCJB, etc. FEBC broadcast in Urdu, Panjabi, Pushtu, Baluch, Dari, Sindhi, Hindko, Brahui and Siraiki; TWR in Urdu. IBRA produce the largest number of daily programmes in Pushtu, and broadcast twice weekly in Panjabi and Hindko. For many this is the only way to hear the gospel. Broadcasting hours are limited, however.

g) Cassettes. GRN have prepared recordings for distribution in 71 languages and dialects.

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