By Martin Roth, BosNewsLife Senior Special Correspondent

downloadISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– Two Pakistani Christians have launched legal proceedings against the country’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), after twice being refused permission to board a flight to Sri Lanka on the pretext that they might defect, BosNewsLife learned.

This follows reports that the FIA has regularly been stopping Christians from flying out of Pakistan.

The two Christians, Irfan Masih and his sister Maria Batool, from Kasur, a city on the border with India, said they were planning to visit a family friend and had visas, sponsor letters and all other necessary documentation.

On the second occasion, on June 1, they were able to check in and receive boarding passes, but were then stopped from boarding the aircraft. They said FIA officials told them that Pakistani Christians had been traveling to Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka to seek asylum, and therefore they would not be allowed to leave the country.

The lawyer for the pair, Mushtaq Gill, said that citizens whose passports stated their religion as Christian were often ordered to provide evidence that they would return to Pakistan. He said that on a trip to Italy in December 2014 he was apprehended by FIA officials at the airport, and was only allowed to travel after asking other officials to intervene.


“This is also a very serious issue to raise globally,” Gill told BosNewsLife. “The fact that so many Christians are seeking asylum abroad, speaks volumes of the persecution they face in this country. Christians in Pakistan face discrimination; mob violence; misuse of blasphemy laws; inequality before law; threats and harassment; and unequal job opportunities,” he added in separate remarks.

Pakistani Christian rights activists say the FIA regularly apprehends Christians as they are about to board international flights and takes them to interrogation rooms where they are “disrespected and harassed.”

The Pakistan Christian Post website claimed that some Pakistani Christians who are regular travelers to Europe and North America are forced to pay bribes to FIA officials before being allowed to board their flights.

Activists say Pakistani Christians face widespread persecution, and many have been killed in church attacks and other violence while several remain jailed on what critics view as trumped-up charges of blasphemy against Islam, the main religion in the Asian nation.

(Martin Roth is BosNewsLife’s Senior Special Correspondent covering global challenges in these strategic times impacting the Church and/or compassionate professionals. The Australian international journalist is also an author of several books. Visit his website at: ).


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