PAKISTAN – Earlier this month officials in Abbottabad closed six unregistered house churches within the district for security reasons. Abbottabad is located about 75 miles north of Islamabad, the district captured the attention of Americans when it was discovered that Osama bin Laden had been residing there. The district is home to the Pakistan Military Academy.
Many Christian churches in Pakistan meet in rental houses. Authorities require that all churches be registered. One of the general requirements for registration of societies in Pakistan is that “In case of registration of mosque . . . the proof of ownership of land is required to be furnished.”
Now Punjab and federal officials have decided to close unregistered churches meeting in rental houses. Because the strategy for moving forward is still being discussed, it is unknown how officials intend to proceed. Officials have said, however, that churches will be permitted time complete registration.
Reports indicate that church authorities are taking steps for registration.
When asked why Christian churches must be registered, one official indicated that the registration must be required for all religions and sects in the country. He explained that by allowing some house churches to be unregistered, other religious groups and sects – including Muslims – will be able to justify doing so as well.
Despite citing security as the reason for the closures, it is not clear what those security issues are.
International Christian Concern, Government Closes Unregistered House Churches in Pakistan for Security Reasons