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CHRISTIANS IN PAKISTAN

CHRISTIANS IN PAKISTAN Christianity arrived in the areas that now constitute Pakistan as a result of the work done by European missionaries in the 16th to the 20th centuries The missionaries concentrated their efforts mostly on the members of the scheduled castes, who were receptive to their overtures, given the low social status they occupied in the highly structured Hindu religion When the Hindus and Sikhs left Pakistan at the time of partition in 1947, the Christians stayed behind Some of them played important roles in Pakistan; one of them, A R Cornelius, became chief justice of the Supreme Court With Zia ul-Haq’s program of Islamization-the introduction, in particular, of the Hadud Ordinances, which prescribed heavy punishment for defaming Islam-Pakistan became a progressively less tolerant society, especially toward the minorities Among the religious groups that were especially discriminated against were the Ahmadiyas and the Christians Although no firm estimates are available, the former number about 5 million and the latter 2 million, in a population estimated at 137 million during mid-1998



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