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‘Soft’ coup ensues in Pakistan

Pakistan (MNN) — Pakistan’s army has engaged in a soft coup. In efforts to keep the country functioning, the Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa recently sought out economic advice in private meetings. Brother Nehemiah, ministry liaison for FMI, gives us some insight into the current situation.

“They select the government, and they rule the government through a democracy in Pakistan. And I mean, you can say puppets…It’s very common in Pakistan now that civilians or the business community are meeting with [the] chief of army in Pakistan,” Brother Nehemiah explains.

“[The] army says they don’t call it a soft coup, they call it compulsory intervention. They thought ‘we have to intervene in the civil government.’”

Coup History in Pakistan

Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa (Photo obtained via Wikimedia Commons. Attribution: Inter Services Public Relations [CC BY-SA 4.0])

As it turns out, soft coups are common in Pakistan. This commonality stems from Pakistan’s history. The country was military-controlled for over three decades (1958-1971; 1977-1988; 1999-2008). Brother Nehemiah says these days, most Pakistanis are not concerned with soft coups.

However, there is a shift happening in the culture. Pakistani society has typically held high respect for its military. Now, this sentiment is starting to change. Brother Nehemiah says there are groups of people with less endearing feelings towards the military who no longer support the army’s compulsory intervention.

Concern for Christian Persecution

Furthermore, this soft coup has the potential to increase Christian persecution in the country.

“The military are…controlling the media. In print media, or electronic media, they’re trying to deter them and there is no news going out. So, people [have] more leverage, or I mean more privileged, to hunt down Christians,” Brother Nehemiah says.

Christians are now marking the bottoms their common-use vessels such as this cup to indicate that it is suitable for a Christian to use (and therefore unsuitable for a Muslim to use). Such markings will help Christians avoid controversies with Muslims such as the one that embroiled Asia Bibi with blasphemy charges. (Photo courtesy of FMI)

Pakistan already has strict blasphemy laws on the books. These blasphemy laws carry an automatic death sentence prefaced with a fee. However, adequate evidence is rarely a necessity for a blasphemy conviction. The result is an abuse of the blasphemy laws, and minorities like Christians are often falsely convicted. Read more about Pakistan’s blasphemy laws here. 

Given this context, one can imagine the danger posed to minorities when a military undermines its government, takes control over the media, and unevenly applied blasphemy laws are available for abuse.

With this in mind, pray for the preparations of Pakistani Christians enduring this coup. Pray for their protection and creativity in continuing their ministry. Pray for justice in Pakistan despite the corruption. Finally, pray for the Gospel to soften hard hearts.

Learn more about FMI’s work in Pakistan and how to support local pastors here.

Header photo courtesy of FMI.

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