A politician who has become a champion for the Christian minority in Pakistan has been subject to an attack at the hands of armed gunmen. The home of Khalil Tahir Sindu was fired upon by a group of assailants on motorbikes back in late April. Thankfully, the parliamentarian, who is the former Provincial Minister of Punjab for human rights and minorities, was not at home at the time.
International Christian Concern reports that the politician and his family have been safely move to Canada for security reasons. "CCTV cameras show that four unidentified attackers open gunfire at my house around 10:15 to 10:20 pm,” Sindu shared with local media. “However, these attacks will never detach me from my community.”
There are around four million Christians living in Pakistan, out of a population of approximately 212 million. Followers of Jesus face endemic persecution and discrimination, often working the most menial jobs in society. In addition, the country's archaic Islamic blasphemy laws mean that beleivers are routinely imprisoned after being accused of insulting the prohet Muhammad. This was most famously seen in the case of Asia Bibi, who spent a decade on death row for a crime she did not commit.
Those who defend the rights of Christians often find themselves persecuted or even killed. Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer were both assasinated in 2011 for advocating against the blasphemy laws.
In a 2015 interview with Dawn.com, Sindu talked about becoming friends with Bhatti while in college - the pair were roommates for seven years.
"He was a year junior to me," Sindu explained. "Politics was our main area of interest and minority rights was our pet topic. We would often discuss the blasphemy law which particularly endangers minorities."
Sindu also spoke of his work to eradicate anti-Chrstian bias in the country, particularly regarding employment opportunities.
"Recently a government advertisement in a local daily sought applications from minorities for janitorial positions. Such work is assigned to Christians only. I complained to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif that the government should not post discriminatory advertisements. It is highly offensive," he said. "The CM ordered Punjab Chief Secretary Khizar Hayat Gondal to remove such postings and ensure that it's not repeated again."
Open Doors lists Pakistan at number 5 on its 'World Watch List' - a ranking of the most oppressive countries in which to live as a Christian.