The new leader promises change. But Christians aren’t celebrating yet

In a televised speech made after his victory in Pakistan’s elections, Imran Khan promised that his policies would not be for the elite but for the “oppressed, the under-privileged and the minorities”.

For Christians, his victory could herald better times – but, given his party’s past record and his remarks on the campaign trail, many faithful are reserving judgment.

Fr Francis Gulzar, a parish priest in Lahore, is one of those encouraged by Khan’s vision for change. “He spoke very well about wanting to build new relationships with the US and other countries,” he said. “It is clear that the people of Pakistan have rejected religious parties so we – Christians and others – have faith in the future.”

Bishop Victor Gnanapragasam, vicar apostolic of Quetta, stressed that Khan’s new party – Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) – has broken the mould of the two-horse political contest between the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League, which between them have held power for so many years.

The bishop, whose Diocese of Quetta has seen some of the worst violence against minorities, including against Shia Muslims as well as Christians, said: “Khan seems to be people-orientated. He is definitely a change and let us hope that he is a change for the better.”

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