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From Our Member National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), Pakistan – Press Release: Incidents of Target Killings of Christians in Quetta in less than Two Weeks

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Attacks often target Pakistan’s minorities including Christians, Hindus, Shia Hazaras and members of Ahmadiyya sect. On the other hand Pakistan has been battling militant groups and its allies who try to impose fear and instability in the country.

The Christian community in Quetta has yet again become a target of the state of rising intolerance and violence in society. In December last year, two suicide bombers blew themselves up at a Quetta Church, which was packed with worshippers, killing nine people and wounding over a dozen. Earlier this month on the 2nd day of Easter, a Christian family of five members was traveling in a rickshaw when unidentified men suddenly opened fire, killing four of them and injuring a minor girl for which ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

Yesterday on April 15, 2018 at around 5:30 p.m. in Esa Nagri Quetta, another brutal incident of target killing of Christians has occurred in less than two weeks of the last attack. According to police unidentified gunmen on motorbikes opened fire at a group of a Christians standing outside in the neighbourhood close to a Church. As a result two Christian men identified as Azhar Iqbal and Rahid Khalid lost their lives while three others including a woman and child were injured in hospital with one person in critical condition.

After the attack dozens of Christian community members, including relatives of the victims, gathered to protest the killings. They burnt tyres and suspended the traffic and chanted slogans against the provincial government, as it was the second such attack on Christians in Quetta this month.

The National Commission for Justice and Peace, an organisation of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference strongly condemns these acts of terrorism and violence. In a joint statement His Excellency Archbishop Dr. Joseph Arshad, Chairperson, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf (Mani), National Director and Mr. Cecil Shane Chaudhry, Executive Director stated that it is the responsibility of state to provide protection and security to its citizens. Mr. Cecil said that the Christians are the most peaceful community in Pakistan and they have been under attack for no reason. He demanded that the government immediately take serious notice of this dangerous trend emerging and properly inquire all theses incidents and formulate an independent inquiry commission. These incidents show the inability of national action plan to counter extremism and intolerance. Government must ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are brought to justice.

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf (Mani) stated that government and law enforcement agencies should take effective steps against religious persecution and militant outfits should not be allowed to operate in the country as per instructed in National Action Plan. Chief Justice should take Suo motu notice of the target killings in Quetta and ensure implementation of article 36 as per directed by former Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani in his judgment given on 19 June 2014.

The Chairperson of NCJP, His Excellency Archbishop Dr. Joseph Arshad expressed deep sorrow over the loss of precious lives and prayed for the souls of the deceased, the injured and their families, He also called upon the government to take necessary steps and to hold those accountable for such horrific crimes and further demanded that the Government of Baluchistan provide immediate and best possible treatment to the injured. He prayed for the speedy recovery of injured.

NCJP Media Cell