By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
LONDON (ANS) -- The director of the UK branch of an interdenominational organization working for Pakistani Christians persecuted because of their faith is asking for prayer from believers worldwide.
A news release from the UK director of The Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS-UK), Nasir Saeed, reported that Pakistan is going through difficult times.
Saeed said the army "is engaged in operations against the Taliban," considered an ongoing threat and more than 50,000 Pakistanis have been killed in terror attacks.
The release elaborated, by saying that in 2013 the Taliban attacked All Saints' Church in Peshawar, where at least 81 Christians were killed and many injured.
Many Christians believe that the Taliban and its followers have been involved in several attacks on Christian towns and churches.
According to the release, "Christians consider (the Taliban) a threat to Christianity in Pakistan, and to religious freedom. (The Taliban do) not accept the Pakistani constitution and want to impose their own version of Shariah in Pakistan - making Christians more vulnerable. They can also force Christians to convert to Islam and leave Pakistan."
CLAAS-UK said when the government of Pakistan started resisting the Taliban, the group threatened reprisals and the attacking of minorities' houses of worship.
As a result, Saeed said, Pakistani Christians fear further attacks on their churches and towns, while they are still trying to overcome the attacks they suffered in the past.
Because of the ongoing persecution against Christians and misuse of the country's strict blasphemy law against them, Christians have already started fleeing Pakistan, seeking asylum in Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and other countries.
Speaking in the news release, Saeed said that Christians are also experiencing troubles in other countries as some nations have not ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention. As a result, these individuals are not recognized as refugees
The 1951 Refugee Convention is the key legal document in defining who is a refugee, their rights and the legal obligations of states.
However, CLAAS-UK said, even when they are recognized as refugees, the process takes a long time-sometimes years.
Saeed said U.S. lawmakers have recently expressed their concern over the human rights violations, and have urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to protect the minorities.
He added, "The international community has raised its concern over the Christians' persecution on several occasions, but the Pakistani government has failed to protect Christians and other minorities in Pakistan."
The Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement works for religious freedom, to stop persecution of Christians in Pakistan because of blasphemy and other discriminatory laws, raise awareness, disseminate information and highlight the plight of Christians on an international level.
For more information visit www.claas.org.uk