In Pakistan, Christians frequently encounter difficulties as they grapple with restricted rights and safety issues. Discrimination and persecution against the Christian minority persist, marked by instances of violence, targeted attacks, and societal exclusion.
We observed another tragedy of Christian Persecution in Mandiala Warraich, Gujranwala, Pakistan, amplifying the ongoing religious tensions in the region. Zaman Butt, a Muslim youth, took the life of teenage Christian student Sunil Masih during a violent incident, creating shockwaves of fear and anger within the Christian minority.
According to Mehboob Gill, an eyewitness, and Sunil Masih’s uncle, the incident transpired on 5th Feb,2024 around 5:30 pm in the Christian colony. Zaman Butt, accompanied by Yaseen Malik, Ashraf Ullah, and Adil Abdul, armed with weapons, arrived at the Christian colony and began firing at Sunil Masih in the chest. Even these violent Muslim youths also started firing on other residents of the Christian colony, but luckily, none were injured.
After the assault, Sunil Masih was immediately taken to Gondal Medical Complex. Unfortunately, Sunil Masih lost his life before reaching the hospital, and yet the medical staff also pronounced him dead upon arrival. However, Cantt Police in Gujranwala registered the FIR, but the police have yet to arrest anyone.
This incident was part of an ongoing tension between the Christian and Muslim communities in the area, starting from May 2023. At a wedding, Muslim youths supposedly tried to disrupt the event and later attacked a church. In response, the Christian community took to the streets in protest, but local intervention and police mediation temporarily eased the situation. However, once again, the Christian community is under threat from Muslim youths. According to local Christian members of the community, Muslim youths often harass Christian girls and women when they are going to church, school, or any other place.
We have observed that since August 2023, particularly in Punjab, Pakistan, the persecution of Christians has reached its peak. Hundreds of incidents of Christian persecution were recorded in the last six months. However, law enforcement agencies and the government have failed to protect the Christian community in Pakistan, which constitutes less than 5% of the total population.