Few months back one of my friends who belonged to PPP’s minority wing came to me and invited me to address the youth of the minority wing of PPP. I politely refused him as I stay away from active politics. After some days out of courtesy I asked him “How did the program go?” He told me that the program went well and he had invited a Christian Ex-Judge instead.

And he proudly said that it proved great to invite a well-educated person, as he shared things of great wisdom and knowledge. I further asked him what was the key point of the speech that the judge delivered to the Christian Youth, and he replied overwhelmed and impressed by the judge’s knowledge of the fact that the government always declares our population lesser than it is. In reality we are two and a half crore but the government gives a false smaller number.

I was thinking what kind of political workers or leaders they were that they did not know the population of the Christian community? They were being informed by the judge about the population of the Christian community of Pakistan! It was shocking because my friend, who was a part of the leadership of the minority wing and is well educated and a responsible officer of Pakistan Rail way did not know the actual population of the Pakistani Christian community.

To me this figure seemed highly exaggerated and I started inquiring from different people. Surprisingly, I found that this narrative is very common amongst the Christians and I asked many Christian leaders if the figure given by the government is wrong, and what arguments they present to prove that the figure is incorrect. It evoked in me a curiosity and I called several Christian friends who are member of different national political parties and inquired from them about the number of Christians in Pakistan.

PTI’s Christian representative said that he does not know. Jammat-e-Islami’s Christian representative of Sindh said 1 crore. PML-N Christian leader of Sindh said about 1 crore. Some of my friends who are local Christians but represent the Christian community internationally also did not give any solid reply. One Christian writer in his article tried to prove that Christians are 13% of the Pakistan Population which makes the Christian population 26,000,000 (two crore sixety lakh). Social activists working for Christians are very large in number and now it seems such activists outnumber the Pakistani Christians. Even though the number is flattering, their performance can be judged by the fact that they do not know the number of those for whom they are working. This reminds me of a saying in Punjabi “Panji Puter panja potrey ajay we baba kah khotray” its closest poetic translation could go like this: “The old man is cutting grass under the scorching sun, Although he has 25 sons and 50 grandsons.”

This suspicion of a false count is alarming, but Christians do not have any reason to counter the figure provided by the government either. Though seems harmless but in reality it creates a very negative impact on the minds of Christian especially on the Christian youth. I would further like to elaborate this point since it is not that clear to our activists and leaders, that the Christian youth cannot succeed in such a society where they are taught by their elders that the government is an institute responsible for creating hurdles for them. This led me to do a little research on this to debunk the myth about the Christian population and I have only found three formulas which basically cannot be categorized as formulas but can help us to get an approximate statistic.

1) 1998 Census formula:

The first one which is the one provided by the government that is that the number of Christian according to the 1998 census which is the latest census so far was 2,092,000 (twenty lakhs ninety two thousand only) now if we add 17 years annual population increase in the population of Pakistan which is 1.95% which is the highest in the region. And if keeping this rate in mind we calculate the compound growth rate of the 17 years so this population of 2,092,000 should become 2,785,498.

2) Election commission figures formula:

The second way of calculating is according to the election commission figure of 2013. The Christian voters are 1,240,000 (twelve lakhs forty thousand) and total Pakistan voter according to the 2013 election list is 86,100,000 (eight crore sixty one lakhs). And the total population is 200,000,000 (twenty crore). So the voters are 43% of the total population. And if we calculate the Christian voter with this percentage of the voter to the population we reach the figure 2,883,720 (twenty eight lac eighty three thousand seven hundred and twenty).

3) The Catholic Directory formula:

According to the Catholic directory of 2010 which is the latest available the catholic Christian population is 1,151,319 (eleven lakhs fifety thousand three hundred and nineteen). And if we again calculate the population of Catholic Christians with the rate of 1.95% for five years. So now today Catholic population according to this formula is 1,263,572 (twelve lakhs sixty three thousand five hundred and seventy two).

It is a general perception in Pakistan that Catholics are 50% of the total Christians in Pakistan. And according to this then today’s population is 2,527,144.

If we calculate the average of all these three formulae it comes to 8,196,362 Sum divided by 3, i.e. 2,732,121 (This is the average population with the calculation of facts available).

According to the Wikipedia, Christians are 1.6% of the total population and which comes to 3,200,000.

To justify the first formula I will like to question the Christian community if they really think the Pakistani government officials would so strategically plan to manipulate figures? Pakistani officials are not capable of doing the homework required for this maneuver (as such acts are not financially profitable for them individually). Their efficiency can be judged from the fact that the last census was done in 1998 and it has been 17 years since that census.

The argument for the 2nd election commission formula is that the voter list for 2013 election commission seems correct because it is linked with NADRA database and I do not think that a very large number of the Christians are not registered with NADRA. I did not find any area of Pakistan where Christians have any restriction on their women to register or cast their vote, and in my knowledge there is no such area in Pakistan where Christians follow purdah so how is it possible that such a huge number was missed by NADRA?

The 3rd formula that is the Catholic formula cannot be rejected by saying that Catholics are pro-government or they are intentionally calculating a lesser figure to help the government’s narrative. And if someone believes in such a conspiracy theory this then he must be living in a fool’s paradise.

I do not insist that there are completely accurate figures but these are the only ways to calculate the figure. The purpose of this is not to criticize any person but is to emphasize on the point that we should not misguide our community. These ideas demoralise them and it is a trend now a days to criticize the government in every case. This criticism not only damages our states but it’s most toxic effects are on the Christian youth. And in today’s open and progressed world I do not think it is possible that a figure of 25,000,000 or 1,000,000 (Two crore fifty lakh or one crore) can be shown as 25-30 lahks.

Lastly, it is my humble suggestion to the Christian political leaders, religious leaders, social scientist, intellectual, writers and social worker (whose quantity is huge in our society) that your efforts are commendable but before doing any such work on a community level it is important to know the correct and unanimous figure of these innocents beings for whom you are working or representing. If we cannot work out the right figure then we should focus on the quality rather than the quantity and irrespective of the community’s number. We should not waste our time and energy in such negative activities instead we should try to recuperate the pride of our coming generation by telling them that they are the sons of the soil and their ancestors have contributed in the movement of Pakistan, building of Pakistan, defense of Pakistan and they are not alien to this land. They have a rich inheritance of contribution in every segment of society rather than discussing with them such twisted facts and statistical inaccuracies as these create negative feelingswhich create obstacles in the development and progress of the Christian community and youth. We should show them the towers of light like Singha Sahib, Fazl Din Joshua, C Gibbon, Chief Justice Cornelius, Samuel Martin Burke (who is being taught in the foreign services academy of Pakistan), Nazir Qaisar, David Colin, Saleem Raza, Wales Methis, A V M Eric G Hall (SJ), Rear Admiral Mungavin, General Peter Julian and General Noel Israel Khokhar. They should also be told the heart wrenching stories of 57 Christian martyrs, 7 sitara-e-jurat, 4 tamagh-e-basalat, and 3 sword of honor in the armed forces. Our political leaders, social activist, priests, teachers, and students should be made aware of the profiles of such Christians. Rather than telling them the false myth about the population of Christians.