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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Shockingly few Pakistani Christians gain UK asylum

The British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) recently used a Freedom of Information access request to find out how many Pakistani Christians had applied for aslyum in the UK over the last few years, and how many have had their claims accepted.  The BPCA after repeated cases came to their attention where the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and Home Office had rejected asylum claims of Pakistani Christians on what they considered to be spurious grounds.

'The results were an eye-opener' said BPCA chairman Wilson Chowdhry.  'Firstly, given the deplorable situation in Pakistan for Christians, we were surprised there weren't more applications.  For instance, newspaper articles report that in 2011 about 4000 people from Pakistan sought asylum from the UK.  However, despite the fact that Christians in Pakistan are badly persecuted and an especial target of the blasphemy laws, we found from the Home Office figures that only 108 of these 4000 were Christians.  Secondly, we found out that consistently, fewer than half were given leave to stay.  Given the situation of Christians in Pakistan, and the appeals we have been involved in, we strongly believe the proportion should be much higher and we call on the UKBA and Home Office to better understand the situation of Christians in Pakistan.  We find they significantly underestimate the amount of persecution Christians suffer and claim that 'ordinary Christians' are free to live and practice their faith if they 'keep their heads down'.  This keeping their heads down, seems to include not standing up for the rights of Christians or obeying the Christian command to evangelize.'

The home office figures are as follows :

Year                                   2010          2011          2012        2013  (outcomes to date)  Total
Claims                                25              108            118          58                                       309
Success / leave to stay      7                47              49            23                                       126

BPCA researcher Nasarani ki Himmet noted that 'We have had several Pakistani Christians, including church ministers, report that it was easy for Muslims to get to the West, but not for Christians, with several suggested reasons.  When we compare the percentages of applications of Christians to that of the Pakistani official figures, the proportion of Christians seeking asylum constitutes slightly higher than the official figures for Pakistan, although we, along with many other researchers, believe the true percentage of Christians in Pakistan to be significantly higher, as there is some evidence to show that the official figures have been artificially lowered for political reasons.  On that basis, these figures show that proportionately fewer Christians are getting to the stage where they can at least claim asylum in the UK, and the perception of Christians in Pakistan is justified.   But more to the point, even if we accept the official figures, when we consider the amount of persecution Christians endure in Pakistan, these figures are very much on the low side.'  

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