The administration of the biggest city in Southern Punjab of Punjab province of Pakistan, Bahawalpur, have issued orders that Christians can offer Sunday Prayers in Church Buildings only not in Houses.
There are only four Church Buildings in city of Bahawalpur which belong to Catholic Church of Pakistan and Church of Pakistan which were built before independence of Pakistan in 1947 or before 1971.
The permissions to build new Churches in Pakistan are not granted if the site is within 200 meters from any Mosque or 100 meter away from Muslim residential area. It is also undertaken by new Church builder missions that they will not use loudspeakers during prayers and their services timing will not tally with Muslim prayers in Mosques in that locality. The hoisting of Cross on gates of new Church buildings also need special permission and undertaking of missions.
After 2000, the evangelical Church missions started their preaching in Pakistan and millions of congregates of Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists and Presbyterians joined it. These Evangelical Churches have small number of membership and very limited funds from contributions that’s why unable to build Church building and offer their prayers and Sunday Services in Houses of their Pastors or Houses of members. Such Churches are also called House Churches in Pakistan like many other countries where Christianity is under oppression.
When Pakistan Christian Post contacted office of Deputy Commissioner of city of Bahawalpur to enquire about new orders of restrictions of offering of Sunday Services for Christians in Houses, none was ready to answer our questions but we were informed that In July 2016, such orders were issued on complaint of Muslims who are disturbed by Prayers of Christians.
The sources close to Muslim religious leaders in Bahawalpur told PCP on condition of not disclosing his name “Bahawalpur is headquarter of one banned Muslim outfit and member of that militant group had put pressure on city administration to ban Christian prayers in city”
Southern Punjab is safe haven of Islamic extremists and militant groups where administration of Punjab government is paralyzed and obeys their orders and it is planning to ban House Prayers of Christians in other cities after Bahawalpur.
Dr. Nazir S Bhatti have said in a statement that orders of banning Christian prayers of Sunday in Houses in Bahawalpur have spread fear among millions of Christians in Punjab province of Pakistan.
Nazir Bhatti have urged Chief Minister of Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif and Interior Minister government of Pakistan Ch. Nisar Ali to take immediate notice of banning House Churches Sunday prayer in city of Bahawalpur because it is against religious freedom and guarantees provided to religious minorities in constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.