Church attack an affront to Pakistan’s ideals: HRCP

| September 23, 2013

Lahore, September 23: Condemning the suicide bombings at a Peshawar church on Sunday as inhuman and an affront to the values to uphold which Pakistan was established, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called upon the government to share with the people its strategy to overcome the ongoing faith-based and militant-orchestrated attacks on citizens across the country.

In a statement issued on Monday, the Commission said: “HRCP is sickened by the brutal attack on the churchgoers in Peshawar. We share the grief of the aggrieved families and the stricken community and condole the loss of at least 80 precious lives and injuries to many more.

“The massacre of Christian citizens is an affront to the values that Jinnah’s Pakistan must stand for, an insult to the principles propagated by Islam and a damning indictment of the state for its failure to protect its citizens, especially those from religious minorities, and their religious freedoms. HRCP believes that with the killing of every citizen on account of her or his belief a part of the tolerant tradition inPakistan dies too.

Unfortunately, it would be inaccurate to say that the targeting of a religious minority came as a surprise, because as long as the masterminds of countless previous killings and their blood thirsty progeny enjoy impunity, no amount of brutality and callousness should surprise us.

There is certainly a method to the killers’ madness. Whoever dispatched the suicide bombers to the Peshawar church did not merely want to kill Christian citizens. The aim apparently was to destabilize the state. The attack sends an unmistakable message. The state of Pakistan cannot afford for its response to the attack to be any less unequivocal. The authorities ordering a state of high alert is simply not an adequate response. The prime minister finally, and correctly, branding those killing in the name of religious belief as enemies of Pakistan, rushing the interior minister to Peshawar and announcing a three-day national mourning are all laudable responses. But one cannot help but notice that all these are steps in response to Sunday’s attack and nothing more. Where are proactive, pre-emptive measures to prevent massacres of citizens in the future?

It should be explained how holding talks with the Taliban will address all the other challenges that haunt Pakistan. For instance, how would such talks help rein in the multiple other actors engaged in a bloody movement by extremist militants at the domestic level?

The Peshawar attack and indeed similar attacks in the past are symptomatic of a deeper malady. And that is where one of the most pressing concerns lies; that amid the extremist militants’ onslaught the new government is yet to share with the long-suffering people of Pakistan its vision and strategy for dealing with the problem of militancy in the name of religion.

HRCP calls upon the government to explain its plan to confront this menace and take meaningful steps to reassure the non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan that the government has the will and the ability to protect their lives and religious freedoms.”

Zohra Yusuf

Chairperson

 

Category: English Press Release

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