Lahore In Blood
By Muhammad Akbar Notezai
On March 15, 2015, two suicide bombers near the gates of two churches, St John’s Catholic Church and Christ Church, blew themselves up in the Youhanabad area of Lahore. The horrendous incidents took place at the time when the Christian worshipers were attending Sunday mass at the two churches, in which at least 17 Christians were killed and over 70 injured. Unfortunately, it marked one of the worst ever attacks on the Christian community in Pakistan. The Jamat-ul-Ahrar, one of the offshoots of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed the responsibility for the attacks.
Following the suicide attacks on the two churches, enraged Christian community members of the Youhanabad area of Lahore lynched two men who they suspected of being involved in the attacks. According to media reports, the suspected men were guiltless. Despite being guiltless, they were barbarically and mercilessly targeted. After beating them to death, they were burnt. Ironically, in the name and under the cover of blasphemy, Christians themselves usually get lynched guiltlessly at the hands of religious fundamentalists. But this time the roles changed.
On the other hand, the independent analysts are of the view that the government has failed to protect its minorities. Due to the government’s inefficiency and failures, these incidents occur. They also hold the government accountable for peaceful minorities taking up arms and lynching whoever comes before them. Soon after the attacks, Mr. Imran Khan, the Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), too, condemned the incidents in a tweet, as well as criticized the government for not providing enough security to churches. Unfortunately, he himself did not remember that his own provincial government in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province had provided only two policemen for the security of 600 Christian worshipers at the All Saints Church of Peshawar, in which 81 worshippers, including 37 women, were killed and 170 were critically injured.
In the aftermath of the tragic Army Public School attack in Peshawar, the military courts were set up; the National Action Plan (NAP) was announced; Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif allowed capital punishment for those who have already been sentenced to death in terrorism cases. Did this end terrorism in the country? On the contrary, it seems that terrorism has further intensified in the country. That is why, one after the other, terrorists attacks are taking place. Moreover, in the previous month, Parvez Musharraf, Pakistan’s former military ruler, also admitted in an interview with The Guarding that during his tenure as head of the state, Pakistan tried to undermine the government of former Afghan president Hamid Karzai, as well as to have cultivated the Taliban after 2001. So, in these circumstances, how can we have peace in the country if we oppose it in our neighboring country?
Besides this, in recent weeks the chief Minister of the Punjab province Mr. Shehbaz Sharif was also exposed in a deal with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan through Al-Qaeda for not conducting operations in Punjab. Moreover, questions are raised here : is Punjab only Pakistan? Do other remaining provinces not belong to Pakistan? Are the people living in other provinces of Pakistan not citizens of Pakistan? Due to these double games of the rulers, innocent people of the country, particularly the minorities, are playing in blood. Today, Punjab is also under their attacks.
Although the government says that it has been doing enough to curb terrorism in the country, in reality, it seems that that there is no change in their policy. According to independent analysts, the government and its institutions still differentiate between the good and bad Taliban. Therefore, with the same pace and frequency, heart-wrenching incidents take place. One of its examples is the attacks on the two churches in Youhanabad, Lahore. Even the people, particularly the minorities, have lost trust and confidence in the government and its institutions, as they beat two men to death, who were under the Police custody.
Lastly, it is high time for the government to ensure that security is provided to its citizens, particularly the minorities, who have increasingly been under attacks. They are also equal citizens of the country, as it is enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan. They should also feel free to go to their churches, temples and gurdwaras.
The author is a freelance journalist and researcher based in Quetta. He blogs at http://www.akbarnotezai.wordpress.com and tweets as @Akbar_notezai (twitter.com/Akbar_notezai)