- (Photo: Reuters/Mohsin Raza)
The Archbishop of Karachi and the head of the Council of Pakistani Bishops revealed that Christians in the country are under constant pressure to convert to Islam, most notably in schools.
In the wake of the deadliest church bombing in the country, Bishop Joseph Coats sent a note to an Italian association named Aid to Churches in Need, stating that Pakistan "is one of the most difficult countries to live in for Christians."
"The daily lives of religious minorities in Pakistan are characterized by poverty, injustice and discrimination. Non-Muslims are identified as second-class citizens in school textbooks. Teachers repeatedly ask students to write essays titled: write a letter to your friend encouraging him to convert to Islam," according to the Italian AKI agency.
81 Christians who were attending worship service were killed and 150 others were wounded after two Taliban suicide bombers stormed the building in northwest Pakistan.
Blood, body parts and pages from the Bible could be seen at the church and after the attack, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper called it "the deadliest ever (attack) targeting Christians in Pakistan."
About 400 worshippers were exchanging greetings after the service at the 130-year-old All Saints Church in the city of Peshawar when the two bombers, each carrying about 6kg (13 pounds) of explosives, launched the attack.
"I saw myself in the air and then on the ground inside a huge fire of ball," Sabir John, a church member who lost one of his arms in the blast, told The Guardian.
"I've never seen such piles of human bodies," Arshad Javed, chief executive of Peshawar's Lady Reading Hospital, told Wall Street Journal.
All Saints Church comes under the Church of Pakistan denomination, a united church that is part of the Anglican Communion and a member church of the World Methodist Council.
There are about 70,000 Christians in Peshawar. The community accounts for about two percent of the 180 million people in Pakistan.