Religion has always been something private for me. In Pakistan there is one group that has always been living underground and is rarely talked about in the media, they are the atheists that are living in a country where religion plays a paramount role in the daily lives of millions.

The literal definition of atheism is a person who does not believe in the existence of any gods. For some this concept might sound awkward or strange but one should always be willing to learn about a concept.

After my first 2 years at University, I learnt Programming and became more logical and was trying to find a definitive answer with proofs by this time. Eventually, over time, I started to see arguments proving how religion is just a political tool to control people and how nothing makes logic. Initially, still had my faith but was questioning almost everything.


Legally speaking, atheism is not technically illegal in Pakistan but it is a thing that is often shunned in society because the community does not encourage the freedom to take a path that is completely different from the linear narrative that has been created around religion and other elements of life.

The number of atheists cannot be confirmed because officially no one can register as an atheist or “No Religion” identity for the national database, research shows that the number of atheists has increased. Atheists often meet secretly in private homes to maintain their privacy and security. They often communicate through social media channels.

I couldn’t live as who I am in Pakistan. I always had to behave like someone else and was constantly outcasted by people around me. People regularly avoided me and I stopped getting invites to their events or meetups. As an atheist in Pakistan, I felt lonely all the time.


There is no doubt that atheists are targeted both by the state and the society. From the state, they are often the target of blasphemy laws, which are the product of the colonial era. In 2017 bloggers and activists who were linked with online atheist pages and groups were abducted and subsequently tortured. The continuous persecution by the state has forced some atheists to leave the country.

My father’s side of the family is still not aware of it and more often than not tries to convince me to take part in things such as praying and developing a different mindset to the one I currently have.


Often people are confused why in an Islamic society, be it Turkey or Pakistan, atheism is on the rise. It is a complex situation but there is one definite answer for it, that is in the way the society teaches religion. It is a concept that is often forced down the throats of our children and it is problematic. Religion is something that should not and cannot be forced on someone. In this process, we are teaching our kids that religion is a concept that is strict and this often leads them away from religion.


Suhaib is an International Relations student at Middlesex University in London. Currently, he working with Propergaanda as a News Writer intern. With a previous background as a researcher in 180 Degrees in Consultancy, Malaysia and other organisations Suhaib brings a unique perspective to his writing. In his free time, he volunteers for various causes, reads about diverse topics, and explores new cafes. Follow Suhaib on Twitter @suhaib_shaukat to stay up-to-date on social issues and a lot more!