ASIA/PAKISTAN - A week of terrorist violence: "We are vulnerable", says a priest

Friday, 17 February 2017


Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - "We condemn this senseless violence against innocent human beings. Before any ethnic, cultural or religious connotation, the victims are human beings.
People in Pakistan are above all sad; they are also angry with the institutions that are not able to protect citizens. Finally they feel fragile, vulnerable, helpless in the face of terrorist threat that spares no one": says to Agenzia Fides Fr. Inayat Bernard, Director of Santa Maria Seminary in Lahore, when asked on what has been called a "Week of terrorist violence" that has shocked Pakistan. After the massacre of February 13 in Lahore (13 dead and over 100 injured), yesterday a bomb exploded at a Muslim Sufi shrine in Sehwan, near Karachi, killing 80 worshipers who were praying, including 20 children, while other attacks were recorded in Quetta and Peshawar.
"Today we know that we are all potential targets. Even us Christians - says Fr. Bernard - no one is excluded. The victims of these latest attacks are all Muslims, tomorrow it could be the turn of a Christian, a Hindu or a Sikh. This indiscriminate violence hits places of worship, such as the Sufi mosque in Karachi, or churches in the past. Religious communities are forced to adopt their own security measures and cannot rely on the government. There should be more control, but it is very difficult when there is a great influx of faithful".
Fr. Bernard continues: "This violence profanes the name of God, profanes Islam and uses religion to try to overthrow the state. Public opinion strongly calls on the Government to urgently implement the national action plan against terrorism, already outlined, but there is some hesitation on behalf of the government and this gives rise to many questions on the possible existing connections even in the institutional apparatus. We are in an impasse".
The baptized in Pakistan, less than 2% of the population, "today can only pray and show deep empathy and solidarity", says the Director, and concludes. "We brought our condolences to the police, after the massacre in Lahore; we go to hospitals to offer assistance and solidarity to the injured. In addition we are organizing interfaith meetings in which the faithful of all religious communities light up candles and pray together to reject, in the name of God, terrorism that has bloodied our beloved nation, and say yes to peace and respect for life". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 17/02/2017)