LAHORE: Special prayers services were held on Monday in various churches of the city for those who died in twin attacks on churches in Youhanabad on Sunday.
Addressing a gathering at a church on Waris Road, Church of Pakistan’s Bishop Samuel Azariah urged the Christian community to remain peaceful.
He said he was horrified by the violence that had followed the terrorist attacks.
“We have no right to the decide anyone’s fate,” he said. “If we do not understand that, we have strayed from what our religion teaches us.”
He was addressing special prayer services from the United States via Skype. He said the group that had claimed responsibility for the attack had no respect for any religion.
He said such incidents had given Pakistan a bad name worldwide.
He said Pakistan had been named the most dangerous country in South Asia by several international organisations.
“We need to stay strong and face these challenges with courage,” he said. He said Christians should put pressure on the provincial and federal governments to provide them the kind of security they had failed to do.
Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Maulana Tahir Ashrafi also attended the prayer service. He condemned the incident and condoled with the bereaved families. He said the government had failed to provide security to minorities. “The Christian community has rendered invaluable services for the country and their sacrifices cannot be belittled,” he said.
Lawyers country-wide observed a black day on the call of Pakistan Bar Council. Black flags were hoisted over bar premises and lawyers wore black arm bands. A general house meeting of the Lahore High Court Bar Association passed a resolution condemning the attacks.
It urged the government bring those behind the attacks to justice.
Talking to newsmen, PPP’s Senator Aitezaz Ahsan said though terrorist attacks were condemnable, lynching two suspects was also barbaric.
He said the attack on the Churches was another cowardly act by the enemies of the state.
Cecil and Iris Chaudhry Foundation president Michelle Chaudhry said, “We are heartbroken and very angry. The memory of the Peshawar Church attacks is still fresh in our minds and here we are, once again preparing a mass burial.” She said it was the responsibility of the governments to protect all citizens.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan chairperson Zohra Yousaf also condemned the attacks and urged the government to take decisive steps to ensure protection for minorities.
Addressing a press conference, Hindu leader Dr Manohar Chand said the attacks on the churches was an attack on Pakistan.
Sikh representative Sham Singh also condemned the attacks and said the government should arrest those responsible and ensure strict security of worship places of all religions.
Christian representatives including Father James Chanan, Father Anayat Bernard, pastor Emanuel Khokhar, Father Nadim Khokhar, Bishop Sibtain Shaw, Pastor Shahid Meraj and others also spoke. They advised Christian protesters to remain peaceful and not damage to public or private properties.
Majlis Ahrar-i-Pakistan, in a statement, also condemned the attacks and said for a peaceful society it was necessary to weed out terrorism.
Sunni Ittehad Council chairman Sahibzada Hamid Raza said they would not let anyone create hostility between Muslims and another community.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2015.