The last three decades have witnessed atrocities, attacks and discriminations being committed against Christians in Pakistan. Increasing violence against Pakistani Christian children has been disturbingly evident all through 2012. Many Christian girls were kidnapped, raped and converted to Islam by force and even killed as in the case of Amariah Masih, who was shot dead on November 27, 2012, for resisting a Muslim man, Arif Gujjar’s attempt to rape her.

Christian children are frequently abducted and killed for nefarious purposes, as in the case of an 11-year-old Christian boy, Samuel Yaqoob, who went to the markets of Faisalabad to buy food for his family, never to return. His body was found mutilated and without any internal organs on August 17, 2012.

Another Christian boy, Waiz Masih, the 14-year-old son of Kramat Masih was killed in Islamabad on 19 August, 2012, by young Muslims, after a “discussion on religion”. The boy was savagely beaten by the miscreants and then thrown unconscious into a canal where he died.

On August 15, 2012, a Christian girl, 12-year-old Muqadas Kainat, was ambushed in a field near her home in Sahiwal by five Muslim men who “gang raped her and murdered” her. Police, as usual, did not arrest anyone.

Christian children have been accused of blasphemy as Rimsha Masih, a 14-year-old Christian girl suffering from Down’s Syndrome, who was arrested on false charges of blasphemy in August 2012.

Ryan Stanten, a 16-year-old Christian boy has gone into hiding along with his entire family after he was accused of sending text messages denigrating the Prophet Muhammad to friends and neighbors in the city of Karachi. Protesters ransacked his house and torched the furniture on 10 October, 2012

Sabir Bashir, a Christian teenager was tortured and killed in October 2011 in Khanewal District, Punjab, by Muslims for “land grabbing”. Criminals who want to steal the land belonging to Christians attack their children, who are seen as easy targets for intolerable abuse and acts of inhumanity.

There have been several hundreds of attacks all over Pakistan against Churches and Mission Schools. In 2012, at least six churches have been attacked, looted, fired upon or set ablaze in Pakistan. Most remain unreported as police avoid registering offences and the press keep away to avoid getting into complications. On February 23, 2012, a dozen armed Muslims stormed the Grace Ministry Church in Faisalabad and seriously wounded two Christians stating that the church was trying to evangelize Muslims. Sajid Masih was hit by bullets while Boota Masih, was pushed off the roof after being struck repeatedly with a rifle butt.

St Francis Church in Old Haji Camp area in Karachi was attacked on 9 October, 2012, by a violent mob of about 100 Muslims who pelted stones at the doors and windows of the church, damaging the Marian grotto and parishioners’ vehicles parked in the compound.

In Iqbal Town in Islamabad, on December 25, 2012, when Christian worshipers were coming out of different churches after Christmas services, more than one hundred Muslim extremists equipped with automatic rifles, pistols and sticks attacked Christian women, children and men. Ashraf Masih, while running to save his life was hit by a bullet in his leg, Iqbal Masih received bullet injuries to his leg and arm, Shahzad Masih was beaten with sticks mercilessly, Yousaf Masih was seriously injured while more than one dozen Christian women, men and children received injuries.

On September 21, 2012, violent mobs of Muslim protestors torched the Lutheran Church Mardan, built in 1937, the only Christian place for the 600 Christian families living in Mardan city. They stoned the church, desecrated the altar, tore copies of the Bible and prayer books and set everything on fire. St Paul’s high school, a library, a computer laboratory and houses of 4 clergymen, including Bishop Peter Majeed were also burnt down.

Half of the targeted churches are situated in Essa Nagri in Karachi which has a relatively large Christian population.

Philadelphia Pentecostal Church of Pakistan, situated in a congested lane of Karachi’s Essa Nagri locality was attacked for the second time this year, on 18 October, 2012, when armed men broke into the church from a graveyard situated next to it during a power outage. The rampaging Muslim mob broke the windows, threw the Bibles on the floor and took away cash donations worth Rs 40, 000.

A group of people praying in a mosque were so irked by the voices of children singing carols at a nearby church that they decided to silence them by attacking their house of worship. Muslim men stormed into the Philadelphia Pentecostal Church in New Mianwali Colony in Manghopir on 11 January, 2012, slapped the children, wrecked the furniture, smashed the microphone and kicked the altar stating that the children’s singing was disturbing their prayer.

A property of the Catholic Church in Garhi Shahu worth billions of rupees was razed by the Punjab government on 10 January, 2012. The property housed a home for elderly people, a girls’ school, a convent and a Chapel which were all demolished with no notice of eviction or transfer served on the legal holders of the property, the Catholic Church, Gosha-e-Aman.

The Seventh Day Adventist Church, also located in Essa Nagri was attacked on 19 May, 2012, when armed men barged into the church compound seeking illegal electricity connection from a pole, just before the evening mass was about to commence. Resistance by the worshippers resulted in firing which injured Aftab Bhatti Khairat Masih, 40, Khurram Afzal, 20, and Khurram Ishaq, 15.

St Luke’s Church, situated opposite the house of minority parliamentarian Saleem Khokhar, was also attacked in May 2012.

Nasir Masih, 24, and Rafi Masih, 25, were shot dead on September 15, 2012 when five gunmen entered their homes in Karachi’s Essa Nagri neighborhood and shot and killed them at close range.

Christians in Pakistan are a small and vulnerable minority with no political or economic power. There is an urgent need to protect them from violence and atrocities, propaganda and prejudice, which are being fuelled by fanatic clerics and anti-Christian groups. The Pakistani civil society and the media should stand up boldly for the safety and security of the peaceful Christian community who live in fear in their own country even though their contributions to the educational and social progress of the Pakistani nation are un-matched.