By ICC’s Pakistan Correspondent
04/25/2016 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – This past Easter, all eyes were on Lahore, Pakistan as more than 70 people died in a suicide bombing in a public park, with an unfortunate majority of the deaths being children.
At approximately 6:30 p.m., a terrorist from an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban carried out the attack in the parking lot of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park. The terror group claimed responsibility the same day, expressing that the attack was meant to target Christians celebrating the Easter holiday, though many Muslims also died in the bombing.
We, in the Western hemisphere, were shocked and heartbroken by the attack. However, due to proximity and the many concerns of life, we were also quick to move on. The sad reality for the victims in the Lahore bombing, though, is far from over as many are still trying to pick up the pieces of the tragedy.
On April 11, another victim of the attack was claimed. Chand Masih, age 18, died of multiple injuries in the hospital two weeks after the fact. He was the second member of the Masih family killed in the bombing. Reports show that over a dozen Christians are still suffering from serious injuries following the bombing, including a few who are in critical condition.
This is the second deadliest attack on Christians in Pakistan’s history following the suicide bombing of All Saints Church in Peshawar in September 2013.
Shaking his head in deep distress, Father Cecil Paul told International Christian Concern (ICC), “Throughout the year, we, the Christians in Pakistan experience the agony of carrying [our daily] cross.” He continued, “We face violent attacks, blasphemy allegations, hatred and discrimination in almost all walks of life.”
Though the Christians were those being targeted, the destruction of the suicide attack claimed many Muslims as well.
In a show of solidarity and condolence, Muslims and Christians throughout the country held memorial services both separately and together following the tragedy. The government in Punjab announced three days of mourning in respect to those who were killed as people from across the nation visited Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park to pay homage to the deceased and to express support to the grieving families.
Attaurehman Saman of the National Commission for Justice and Peace told ICC, “The suicide attack could be the reaction of the positive initiatives of the government towards the Christian community.”
In June 2014, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled for the protection of religious minorities in the country, the backlash of which is apparent. Now it is of utmost importance that the government of Pakistan stand firm with its policies against the terrorists and on behalf of the suffering minorities.
“The enemies of Christians in Pakistan are always hunting for opportunities to harm [the] people of God,” explained Ashar Naveed, Coordinator of Christ Church, “However, we are united and firm in our Christian faith.”
Our responsibility, as the Church in the West, is to pray. Pray for the suffering Church in Pakistan. Pray for the families who are grieving lost sons and daughters. Pray that the government continues its forward progress in defending minorities and standing against terrorism.
These realities may seem far from us, but in prayer we are ever connected to our brothers and sisters in Pakistan. Remember that persecution is not over just because the news coverage has faded.