An interview with Pakistan’s only Christian MP

“Whenever I was in the company of my party colleagues – most of whom were rigid Muslims with long beards – they urged me to tell them about my religion. If I did not tell them it would be too unfair to my religion, my Christ.” Asiya Nasir

I was immediately struck upon reading the above remark in the Evangelical Alliance’s magazine Idea because we’d returned from Hull where a Muslim man had demanded of his Christian friends, “Why have churches kept quiet about knowing Jesus?” (brief report here). These are only a couple of the increasing reports of Jesus Christ revealing Himself to Muslims and conveying His love for them (see Footnote 3).

The following EA interview is thus most significant and encouraging news in view of the rising severity of persecutions and murders of Christians across most Muslim nations.

60 seconds with Asiya Nasir MP

Asiya nasir_dave landrum

Asiya Nasir is the only Christian MP in Pakistan. Dr Dave Landrum, director of advocacy at the Alliance, met her to talk about what’s going on in her country.

DL: How did you get into politics?

AN: My great, great grandfather settled in the province of Balochistan before independence before. I was educated there, a teacher there, and wanted to be a professor, but God had His own plan. I never thought of becoming a politician, though my father was in the House and twice contested elections there. It was not a decent thing for women in Pakistan. In the 2002 elections he asked me to replace him. It wasn’t an easy decision for me; I had three children. But my husband supported me. I thought that somebody had to enter politics, if we wanted to bring change to the system, change in the rule of politicians. The party I joined was a right-wing Muslim Islamic party, right wing. Many of my community criticised me for joining that party. It was seen as anti-Christian or anti-minority, but I was really surprised firstly when I met my party leader as he really warmly welcomed me.

Was it difficult being a Christian in this context?

I knew I was in Christ, and knew my foundation was really strong. I felt I needed to identify myself with Christ, and felt I should never hide myself from people. Whenever I was in the company of my party colleagues – most of whom were rigid Muslims with long beards – they urged me to tell them about my religion. If I did not tell them it would be too unfair to my religion, my Christ. I told them. And slowly and gradually people became interested in it. Many of my ministers asked me and my husband to get some Bibles for them.

Many Christians go into politics, but break under the pressure as they do not have the foundations of a personal relationship with Christ. But, for you it was the opposite?

Yes, because in all difficult situations I realised he was the only anchor for me. I cannot find shelter anywhere else except him. I know eventually everything will perish, but one will remain. His name will remain, so we have to glorify His name. I will not be an MP forever. I will be here until He wants me to be here – no one can denounce me or remove me.

Shahbaz Bhatti was a Pakistani politician and a Christian who was killed for his outspoken criticism of the country’s blasphemy laws. Do you fear for your life?

No, I don’t fear. I have no fears. I do not fear death because I know He has given us everlasting life, life after death, so why should I fear? Each one of us has to die some day, with the tablet in the hospital or with a bullet. So why not die for His name? ) Someone once asked me how many bodyguards I have. I said only one – my Lord Jesus. I don’t have any bodyguards because I have never received any threats. Jesus says you are not called for this, you are called to be bold, courageous and truthful, honest, so I am only afraid of that threat, not of anything else. But I have never ever received any threat.

Pakistan seems to need more secular government and civil society whereas the UK may need less. Any comment on the difference between the two countries?

We need balance, not religious extremism. There is debate in Pakistan about how we can segregate state and religion. Many think religion does not affect affairs of state, but I say no, you cannot segregate for a long time. To some extent religion needs to be involved in the affairs of state. I don’t think you can ever really separate. My party always appreciates me because I don’t have secular ideas. The debate in Pakistan is whether we are going to be a secular state not theocratic. I say no, it should not be theocratic but also not a secular state. We need a pluralistic culture, need freedom. I believe in freedom of religion and don’t want to impose religion on me or others, everyone should be free. I don’t want to go and preach my religion but not practise, I want to practise first and want others to learn from my life. If they are impressed with my life they will convert or learn from my religion. Even in Pakistan we have a lot of diversity, religions should not want to impose. My party is religious but does not believe in imposing on others, they have never asked me to convert or put on a veil.

Is the gospel spreading in Pakistan?

The Christian Church is very fast growing in Pakistan. Pentecostals are growing more. Churches are full. There are not enough places to put people. People are trying to set up new churches. People are bringing their friends, giving room for prayer in houses.

Footnotes

  1. Photo credit and original post re-published by permission of Idea (visit here).
  2. Those stirred by this courageous lady’s faith through adversity may wish to visit Wilson Chowdhry’s website and blog at British Pakistani Christian Association.
  3. For more about Muslims meeting Jesus see closing part of All Hail The Lamb.
  4. The next post explains my interest in this important interview.

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