Islamabad (Agenzia Fides) - "The massacres of innocent lives increase in Pakistan. Let us pray to our Lord Jesus Christ so that, as a nation, he can give us strength, wisdom, tolerance and peace. May God give the victims’ families the strength to endure the loss of their loved ones and a speedy recovery for the wounded": says Archbishop Joseph Arshad, at the head of the communities of Islamabad, President of the Episcopal Conference of Pakistan, as well as President of the "Justice and Peace" Commission of Catholic Bishops, after the terrible kamikaze attack which on Sunday, 17 December hit the Bethel Methodist Church in Quetta, capital of the province of Beluchistan, causing the death of 13 people and over 56 were wounded.
In a statement of the "Justice and Peace" Commission sent to Agenzia Fides, co-signed by the Archbishop, by the National Director Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf and the Executive Director and Cecil S. Chaudhry, the Church in Pakistan strongly condemns "the cowardly and inhumane attack on the Church and on the innocent faithful". Expressing condolences to the victims, the Bishops "greatly appreciate the prompt response of the police and security forces who contributed to ensuring the life of almost 400 faithful present in the Church" and assure prayers for the families of the faithful killed and the wounded.
The Commission calls on the institutions "to bring those responsible to justice, and to address the root causes of this intolerance", stressing the urgent need to "strengthen measures for the protection of all citizens, especially during this Christmas period". The Bishops call upon all citizens of good will to offer voluntary help for the security of Christian institutions.
The Commission also cites the ruling of the Supreme Court of 19 June 2014, which called on the government to adopt a series of concrete measures to protect religious minorities, and hopes for its effective implementation. It also highlights the national Action Plan against terrorism as "maximum priority to eliminate extremism from the country".
Among the voices of Pakistani civil society, the Christian Nasir Saeed, director of the NGO CLAAS, tells Fides: "Attacking the faithful, especially during the Christmas period, is an act of cowardice. Such hatred and violence will not help anyone to earn a place in paradise". Deploring the so-called "anti-national" groups, the leader observes that "Christians are the most peaceful community and at the same time the most vulnerable in Pakistan, and have fought with all other citizens for the independence of Pakistan, playing a vital role in its role in the development of the nation". Saeed concludes: "It is the responsibility of the State to give protection to its citizens and in particular to minorities. The government failed to give them security guarantees and solve their problems. Most Christians are disappointed and do not see their future in Pakistan. Many are fleeing the country where they fought alongside Muahmmad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 18/12/2017)