Pakistan is a complex blend of old and new. Ancient Islamic influences predate the country itself. It is home to Taxila, one of the oldest universities in the world. Dozens of distinctive cultures are also scattered through the various tribes in the Karakoram mountain range. With a fusion of diverse customs, this nation finds unity through the predominantly shared Islamic faith on which it was founded.
After Pakistan’s formation in 1947, it went to war with India over the Kashmir land. Though this particular conflict only lasted from 1947 to 1948, the region remains contested to this day. Despite its rich culture, Pakistan is a poor nation with bleak economic outlooks. An estimated 35% of the people live in poverty, and children are often pulled out of school to help provide for their families. Substance abuse is rampant; this is the most heroin-addicted country in the world. Pakistan was also the seventh country to successfully develop and test nuclear weapons. In addition, terrorism has brought widespread devastation, killing thousands and hindering any economic development. From as early as 2005, Pakistani schools have been targeted by the Taliban, and hundreds of students have been killed. Fragile government control has allowed the Islamic State and many other Islamic terrorist groups to thrive. Tribal lands, which are largely outside the government’s control, have become safe havens for lawlessness and a regrouping point for the Taliban.
Over 95% Muslim, with a Sunni majority, Pakistan is the third largest Islamic nation – and the center of the unevangelized world. Despite constitutional guarantees of religious freedom, this is one of the world’s most persecuted nations. Though it is less than 2% of the population, Christianity is the second largest religious minority. Countless Christian villages dot the Punjab heartland, with a significant population in the southern city of Karachi. But Bible translation remains very difficult, and only a few of the seventy languages have a completed New Testament. With much of the country controlled by Islamic fanaticism, believers face extreme persecution and are often among the poorest. Yet, in the face of conflict and despair, prayer movements are rising up, and Muslims are increasingly coming to Christ!