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2013-04-18

ASIA/PAKISTAN - Terrorist attacks against candidates and political parties: Christians' appeal for democracy

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - The political violence is ravaging Pakistan. As the general elections approach on May 11, terrorist attacks against candidates and political parties continue. "We are very concerned about this wave of violence. The attacks are aimed at creating tension and instability and threaten the painstakingly built democratic system in Pakistan, perhaps trying to postpone the vote. In addition there is disdain towards the vision of human dignity, human rights, and peaceful coexistence which are the foundations of civilized life," explains to Fides Agency the Dominican Fr. James Channan, director of the "Center for Peace" in Lahore.
"I think this is a very serious matter, that the government should take in hand and is a matter for the security forces and intelligence, because terrorist groups are known," says the priest. The appeal of the Christian community is "for peaceful, transparent elections, where people can express themselves freely" and for "values such as equality, democracy, citizenship, religious freedom, harmony," to be respected in political and social life, he concludes.
The "Human Rights Commission of Pakistan" (HRCP), the largest NGO in the country has strongly condemned the terrorist attacks and has urged the government to protect political leaders from groups that "intend to sabotage the electoral process". "The climate of fear and intimidation surrounding the election campaign has a negative impact on free and fair elections," said the NGO in a statement sent to Fides. The HRCP denounces, in particular, violence against the "Awami National Party" (ANP), given that its representatives were attacked in Swat, Shabqadar and many other places. "It is essential that the democratic forces tackle with due awareness the threat that these attacks have on democracy and the country and show the will to fight them together."
Among the attacks of greater magnitude, in recent days, a suicide bombing at a meeting of the "Awami National Party" in Peshawar killed 16 people; an attack hit the convoy of Sanaullah Zehri, leader of the "Pakistan Muslim League" (N) in Baluchistan, causing three deaths; Fakhurl Islam, candidate of the "Muttahida Quami Movement" party was killed by two gunmen in Hyderabad. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 18/04/2013)

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