In February 2019, U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom Sam Brownback said that after meeting with Pakistani officials, he saw a willingness to improve the country's record on religious freedom. He said Pakistan's foreign minister voiced an intention to designate an official to address concerns raised by U.S.
Earlier this month, an EU official told CNA that the acquittal and release of Asia Bibi - a Catholic woman who spent nearly a decade on death row for blasphemy charges - showed promise for the development of religious freedom in Pakistan.
Bibi was convicted of blasphemy in 2009 sentenced to death by hanging. She was accused of making disparaging remarks about the prophet Muhammad after an argument about a cup of water. She was held on death row until October 2018 when her conviction was overturned.
After the acquittal, there were protests by Islamic hardliners, and Bibi remained in Pakistan under protective custody until May 2019. She is now in a secret location in Canada with her family.
Archbishop Shaw told Aid to the Church in Need that he is hopeful about the direction Pakistan is moving, under the guidance of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who took office last year.
"The present government is working on equality," he said.
He is also optimistic about the future of the Catholic Church in Pakistan, which is composed largely of young people, and offers quality educational and professional support.
"We have a good catechetical program and teach them why they are Christian," he said. "We train them for dialogue with Muslims. We teach them the difference between dialogue and debate."