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ICC Note:

For the past two years in a row, Christians and their places of worship in Pakistan have been the targets of terrorists. In 2015, just weeks before Easter, two churches in a majority Christian neighborhood of Lahore were attacked by suicide bombers, killing 19. Last year, Christians celebrating the Easter holiday in a public park in Lahore were again attacked and killed by a suicide bomber. In each attack, the Pakistani Taliban took credit. For Pakistan’s terrorists, churches and Christians are viewed as soft targets. The government must do more this Easter to insure the security of Pakistan’s Christian population. 

04/12/2017 Pakistan (Dawn) – In the current milieu where extremist militants have struck in locations across the globe, governments must be on their toes to ward off terrorist attacks on ‘soft targets’. Amongst these targets, of course, are places of worship and public areas where people congregate.

Just the other day, on Palm Sunday, at least 45 Egyptian Christians were massacred in two separate attacks, one in the coastal city of Alexandria, and the other in Tanta near Cairo. The IS has claimed responsibility for the atrocities. This is the latest in a series of attacks on minority Christians in Egypt as extremists had also bombed a church in Cairo in December 2016. Moreover, extremist militants allied with IS have established a toehold in the Sinai.

Of course, Pakistan too has witnessed a recent upsurge in acts of terrorism, with extremists striking in different cities and towns. The Christian community in particular was also targeted in this country on Easter last year in Lahore’s devastating Gulshan-i-Iqbal park bombing. All these facts require the government to take stringent security measures to prevent the shedding of innocent blood, especially in and around Christian places of worship.

The government has of late taken steps to allay the concerns of minorities in Pakistan. For example, the prime minister’s address during a Holi function in Karachi was considered bold and inclusive. Moreover, the Pakistan embassy in Washington held an event at the mission to build bridges with Pakistani-American Christians on the occasion of Easter. These are all welcome and much-needed steps.

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