UPDATE: Bruce Allen sent this late-breaking update to MNN, noting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is appealing to radical Muslims in Pakistan: http://tribune.com.pk/story/757186/spillover-effect-isis-making-inroads-into-pakistan-afghanistan/
Pakistan (MNN) — Pakistan protests are entering their third week, and protestors are reportedly ratcheting up their intensity, as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif clings to power.
“The whole country is on a knife’s edge right now,” says Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaires International (FMI). “It’s gotten fairly violent in the clashes with police, as they’re trying to maintain order and calm.”
In mid-August, thousands of protestors began filing into the capital city of Islamabad to voice disapproval of what they deemed a “corrupt government.” Two prominent figures are at the helm of the unrest, Allen says.
“One is a former cricket player turned politician; another is an Islamic cleric from Canada who’s arrived on the scene. He’s also Pakistani,” states Allen.
“They’ve rallied support against what they call a ‘very corrupt’ government and are calling for the ouster of the Prime Minister.”
While this unrest may look very similar to demonstrations that formed the Arab Spring–widespread civilian uprisings against corrupt government institutions, Allen says these Pakistan protests aren’t shaped from the same mold.
“This is, sad to say, ‘politics as usual’ for Pakistan,” he explains.
Ever since Pakistan was partitioned out of India in 1947, there has only been one successful democratic transfer of power. Sharif himself was ousted during his second reign as Pakistan’s Prime Minister in 1999.
“In the past, it’s always been assassinations, coups, or martial law,” says Allen, referring to the way power is transferred in Pakistan.
Christians sometimes bear the brunt of community unhappiness during times of unrest, he adds.
“When the majority population [feels] frustrated with what’s happening in the country, [they] take it out on a Christian,” Allen says.
Even in the midst of turmoil, Pakistani Gospel workers helped by FMI are continuing to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. One pastor is trying street evangelism to share the Gospel with curious Muslims, and FMI was also able to sponsor the distribution of 500 New Testaments in northern Pakistan.
“We currently support about 40 pastors and evangelists, church planters in Pakistan. We have 20 online who are in need of support,” says Allen. “They’re doing an incredibly courageous work.”
Pray for peace, and pray for an end to these Pakistan protests. Pray that believers would avoid being tangled up in corrupt politics.