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Peshawar bombing politics at its worst

ISLAMABAD (SE): “This is the politics of convenience,” the president of the National Justice and Peace Commission of Pakistan, Peter Jacobs, said of the violent attack on All Saints church in Peshawar on September 22.

“I deplore this violent attack on minority Christians. It violates Islamic principles. It violates human dignity. It is completely unacceptable. Violence is not the way to peace. Peace is the way to peace,” Father Pat McInerney, long time missionary to Pakistan and holder of a doctorate in Islamic studies, told the Sunday Examiner.

“The attacking of innocent men, women and children while praying in church is a shameful act of cowardice,” Archbishop Joseph Coutts, from Karachi, commented.

“We came out of Sunday school and there was a huge explosion. I cannot believe I lost my friends. I will never be able to see them again,” AsiaNews reported a tearful 12-year-old boy, Salman John, as saying.

The Muslim community is also in mourning, showing its solidarity with Christians. Maulana Tariq Shah, a Muslim scholar in Peshawar, said, “Islam teaches us to protect minorities. This is a barbaric act.”

Lahore-based human rights advocate, Iftikhar Ahmed, agrees, noting that the principles on which Ali Jinnah, the founder of modern Pakistan, established the state includes the notion that all citizens should feel free and safe in attending their mosque, church or temple.

Nauman Hafeez Kadir, a member of the Islamic Ideology Council, expressed his closeness to and solidarity with his Christian brothers and sisters affected by terrorists who have no religion, whom he said government must punish.

A memorandum addressed to the government of India and the high commissioner for Pakistan in New Delhi was handed to the Bhopal District Collector on the morning of September 24, after people had marched through the streets of the Indian city in solidarity with the victims of the senseless violence.

The people called on their own government to raise its voice in defence of those who have no voice and encourage the government of neighbouring Pakistan to tighten its stand against terrorism of all kinds, Richard Jones, a spokesperson for the Isai Maha Sangh organisation, said on September 24.

Over 80 people died and 150 more were injured, with some remaining in a critical condition, after a bomb was detonated inside a church in Peshawar, just as the Sunday service was concluding and people were beginning to chat with each other.

Two days later, still in a state of shock, traumatised members of the parish joined others for a prayer service inside the devastated building and prayed for the victims of the attack perpetrated by extremist terrorists.

Archbishop Coutts announced that all Catholic educational institutes in Pakistan would be closed for three days from September 23 to September 25 as a sign of both mourning and protest.

The president of the Pakistan Bishops’ Conference referred to those who died in the church, when two terrorists let off bombs, as martyrs. “Special prayers for those martyred and injured will also be offered in churches throughout the country,” he said in a September 22 press release.

Archbishop Coutts also warned the government in Islamabad that the violence perpetrated in All Saints church signals an increase in the rate of sectarian intolerance in the country, saying that it has already reached alarming proportions.

 

He called on the government to act to lessen that tension and call on all its arms and legs across the nation to cooperate in bringing peace in society.

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