Pakistan: April 29th observed as a day of Prayer and Mourning for all the victims of religious intolerance, violence
from the National (Catholic) Commission for Justice and Peace
5/5/18 - Over the past few months we have witnessed an alarming increase in violent incidents of intolerance and extremism in our country. Some of the most recent incidents include the suicide attack on Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta, inhuman treatment of Patras and Sajid Masih, brutal murder of Suneel Masih at services hospital Lahore, the incidents of target killings of Christians in Quetta in less than two weeks and more recent incident of Asma Yaqoob a Christian girl who was burnt with acid after refusing a marriage proposal by a Muslim man Rizwan Gujjar. She fought for life in the Lahore Mayo Hospital for two days; however she lost the fight and passed away on April 22, 2018.
National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) is deeply concerned about this new wave of targeting minorities due to their faith. These attacks on minorities is not acceptable and the state must seriously revisit the National Action Plan to address the issue of extremism and terrorism in the country.
In a joint statement issued by NCJP, His Excellency Archbishop Dr. Joseph Arshad, Chairperson, Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf (Mani), National Director, and Mr. Cecil Shane Chaudhry, Executive Director demanded that the government immediately take serious notice of this dangerous trend emerging and formulate an independent inquiry commission for the investigation. These incidents show the inability of national action plan to counter extremism and intolerance in society. The government must ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are brought to justice. It is of utmost importance that the government on urgent basis address this wave of intolerance in society. The strategy would have to be a mix of short-term and long-term goals, which need to then be put into action and also monitored for achieving the required objectives.
Mr. Cecil Shane Chaudhry, Executive Director NCJP said that the federal government has recently launched 'Paigham-i-Pakistan' a fatwa against terrorism signed by 1800 religious scholars. In the fatwa, political party leaders and religious scholars called for unity and a unanimous narrative to counter terrorism in Pakistan. This narrative should be enforced along with 19 June 2014 Judgment of Supreme Court for the protection and promotion of religious minorities’ rights.
Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf (Mani) National Director NCJP stated that such kind of attacks on minorities is increasing day by day, however government and relevant institutions are not taking any serious notice. He demanded that national action plan for human rights by ministry of human rights should be implemented to safeguard minority and women rights in the country. Government should immediately constitute an independent national minority rights commission to resolve the issues of minorities.
The Chairperson of NCJP, His Excellency Archbishop Dr. Joseph Arshad prayed for the souls of the deceased and affected and especially for the families of all such victims. Archbishop Dr. Joseph Arshad who is also the President of Pakistan Catholic Bishops' Conference called upon the Catholic Church and entire Christian community of Pakistan to observe Sunday, April 29, 2018, as a day of Special Prayer and Mourning for all the victims of religious intolerance, violence and terrorism and for peace and harmony in Pakistan.