Today’s suicide bombing in an historic church in Peshawar, Pakistan, has been widely condemned by a UK-based human rights organisation as another example of how Pakistan’s authorities fail to protect minorities in the majority-Muslim country.
Global Minorities Alliance (GMA), which advocates for the rights of persecuted minorities the world over, has watched the story unfold with mounting concern as it becomes apparent that a lack of help at the scene has caused chaos and is hampering efforts to find the people still missing.
The Church of Pakistan, in Khohati Gate district of Peshawar, was attacked while the Sunday services were coming to an end. More than 600 people were in the church when two suicide bombers entered and detonated their devices.
The attack is said to have happened due to a security breach as the church had previously received bomb threats. The local authorities are now under fire for not following up on these threats, meaning nothing was done to protect the community that worships there.
The blast has killed at least 60 people and injured 120 more; however, the death toll continues to rise, and the lack of help at the scene of the incident has angered the Christian community, which makes up 1.6% of Pakistan’s population.
So far no group has come forward to claim responsibility for the attack, but previous attacks on the community – including last week’s murder of Boota Masih, a Christian man in Karachi who was stabbed to death in public – have been blamed on hardline Muslim groups.
GMA’s chief executive, Manassi Bernard, is concerned at the lack of medical help for the many injured people at the scene:
“There are not enough doctors available in the local Lady Reading Hospital, no help desk provided and the Christian community has no one to get help from.”
The vice-chairperson of GMA, Shahid Khan, highlighted how the Christian community in Pakistan has always suffered attacks such as these, where no government help has been provided:
“It is a security lapse where the government has failed to protect the minorities and I am deeply concerned about the chaotic situation at the scene of incident where church members have no clue where their loved ones are.
“There are so many people missing and there is no help for the deeply-shocked Christian community.”
Shamim Masih, a journalist and human rights activist based in Pakistan, spoke to GMA this morning to strongly condemn the attack and give a wider picture of the situation on the ground:
“This is a security lapse since the Church has received threats of the attack and informed the local authority who did not provide any security. The local government has failed to protect minorities and has even been involved in hate speeches against minorities.”
The attack is already being called one of the worst assaults on Christians in Pakistan for years; as the details unfold, it is expected that the death toll will rise.
GMA has previously launched a campaign to highlight persecution against Pakistan’s Christian community through the misuse of blasphemy laws, where Christians are accused, imprisoned and murdered following accusations that they committed acts of blasphemy. These allegations are often unfounded or occur following trivial disputes, and yet can lead death sentences.
Source: Pakistan Christian Post – 22.09.2013