The summertime floods have devastated Pakistan—inundating one-fifth of the country, displacing millions, destroying and altering landscapes. But in other ways the floods changed very little. The country was already facing a perilous humanitarian and social situation. The floods have led some to wonder whether there is a future for the country.
A petition calling for the repeal of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which impose the death sentence on a person found desecrating the Qur’an, has been delivered to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan, a long, mountainous region on the border with Afghanistan, may be the world's most violent area. I asked Mano Rumalshah, bishop of the Church of Pakistan's 70,000-member NWFP diocese, "How do you serve as a Christian in this hostile region, where violence has become the norm and you’re held down economically, socially and politically? How do you incarnate Christ when you live here?"
Greg Mortenson grew up in Tanganyika, now Tanzania, the son of Lutheran missionaries. He says his parents wore their faith lightly, but from them he learned to appreciate people different from himself, to live simply and to care deeply about people who are impoverished.
Mullahs in the corner of Pakistan where I live tend to be brilliant orators. They usually speak extemporaneously for an hour before Friday prayers. They can be persuasive, humorous, conciliatory, prayerful or bellicose. Frequently they break into song or weep for the sins of their tribe, and they hold their audiences spellbound, displaying a masterful use of repartee and the timing of a stand-up comic. They can move listeners from tears to laughter in the time it takes you to fold your turban.
New fault lines are complicating the already daunting challenge of recovering from last October’s killer earthquake in the Himalayan foothills of northern Pakistan. As tens of thousands of survivors brace for the coming winter, relief groups are caught in a religious squeeze play that makes recovery and reconstruction even more difficult.