05/23/2021 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – According to the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN), the Christian population of Pakistan has declined over the past two decades. Church leaders point to the persecution and discriminate experienced by Pakistani Christians as an explanation for this decline.
According to the recently released Pakistan Bureau of Statistics Report regarding the 2017 Census, Christians make up 1.27% of Pakistan’s total population of 207.68 million. Most Christians, according to the census, currently reside in the Punjab province.
The number reported by the 2017 census marked a decline in the Christian population when compared to the 1998 census. At that time, Christians reportedly made up 1.59% of the total population.
“I was expecting a drop in the Christian population as so many people have migrated to Bangkok, Colombo, Kuala Lumpur, and Jakarta,” Father Bonnie Mendes, former regional coordinator of Caritas Asia, told UCAN. “Discrimination is high at the local level.”
“The true figures were hidden,” Bishop Samson Shukardin of Hyderabad told UCAN. “Our community doesn’t give enough importance to national identity cards.”
“Incidents of violence against them are increasing,” Bishop Shukardin continued. “Our people are worried about what to do.”
According to International Christian Concern’s Factsheet on Christian Persecution in Pakistan, Christians endured at least 25 incidents of persecution between January 1 and March 31, 2021. These incidents included false blasphemy accusations, religiously motivated murders, abductions, forced conversions, and instances of intimidation.