PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD/LAHORE - Christian held protest demonstrations across the country against the twin bombing at a church in Peshawar to express solidarity with the victims and demand greater security to minorities from the government.
Hundred of enraged protesters along with victim’s families took to the streets in Peshawar and blocked main GT road for traffic. The victim families also placed the dead bodies of their relatives on the roads and demanded the government arrest the perpetrators of this heinous crime.
The protesters strongly condemned the government and police over their failure to avert terrorism incidents in Peshawar. Soon after the bomb blasts, angry mobs attacked police vehicles and burnt their uniforms in several areas of the city. They also blocked Qissa Khwani Bazaar and Khyber Bazaar. Traffic on main GT Road remained suspended for hours and travellers used alternative routs to reach Sherpao and Karkhano areas.
The protesters said that on several occasions the government was requested to provide them security but their demand was not heeded to. They said only two police officials were deputed for church security and they too were not alert and therefore at least one of the attackers was able to sneak inside.
Expressing solidarity with the victims of Peshawar attack, Christian community conjoined with the activists of civil society held peaceful demonstration in Islamabad and questioned if Pakistan was fast becoming ‘no land’ for minorities. A large number of people including the Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims took to streets against the massacre of Christians. Smaller protest demonstrations were held in Christian colonies in sectors G-6, G-11 and 7 while the main demonstration was held outside National Islamabad Press Club.
The protesters, who refrained from causing damage to the people and property, shouted slogans against the government and law enforcers on their failure to protect the lives and properties of minorities in the country. The peaceful demonstration that began at around 7pm in the heart of capital Islamabad, gained full momentum within an hour as hundreds of people joined it from across the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
“If such attacks continue there would be no place left in this country for Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Ahmedis,” said a protestor. “A time would come when only Muslims will be living in Pakistan,” said Jamila Khan, a pro-minority human right activist as she addressed to the demonstrators. She added that conspirators who planned and motivated attacks on Christians and other minorities do not believe in Jinnah’s ideology of Pakistan.
In Lahore, Christian and civil society organisation staged protest demonstrations in different parts of the city. Human Liberation Commission Pakistan, Maseha Milat Party, PPP Minorities’ Wing, Imamia Students Federation and people of Behar Colony, Joseph Colony and Makka Colony staged a protest in front of the Lahore Press Club and burnt tyres.
Holding banners and placards, the protesters should slogans against the militants and the government and demanded justice. A large number of women and children were also present. Christian leaders Aslam Sahotra, Paster, Anwar Javed, Amin Masih Sohni, Anees Pervez, Saleem Gabriel, Hanif Thekedar, Ch Shahid Iqbal, Baba Aslam Bhatti, Ch Sadiq, Joseph Frances, Zia Khokhar, Javed Sindu, Martin Javed Michael, and Amir Bashir addressed the protesters.
They demanded the government improve security of minorities and arrest the culprits immediately. They said the government should deal with the terrorists with iron hand instead of wasting time in talks. Holding KP CM responsible for the tragic incident, they asked PTI Chairman Imran Khan to remove the CM. Other protest demonstrations were staged in Yuhanabad and Joseph Colony, and on The Mall in front of Punjab Assembly.
In Karachi also, a large number of Christians staged protest in at locations. Hundreds of protesters gathered at Karachi Press Club and in Essa Nagri, Natha Khan Goth, Liaquatabad, Zia Colony of Korangi, Saddar, Ghaziabad in Orangi Town, Azam Basti in Mehmoodabad and on Drigh Road to protest against suicide attacks at church in Peshawar.
The protesters blocked the key roads including Shara-e-Faisal, Shara-e-Pakistan and main University Road. The protestors pelted the passing vehicles with stones and torched several of them. During the protests, protesters and law enforcers also scuffled with each other, especially in the Essa Nagri area. Police also used teargas shells and charged the protesters with the batons. Two motorcycles were also set on fire. Intense firing was also reported at various protest sites. Over one dozen suspects were detained by police.
Members of Christian community also staged a protest demonstration and took out a rally in Quetta against the Peshawar twin suicide blasts. The protest rally was led by Javed Masih. The protesters were carrying placards inscribed with various demands and they chanted slogans against the KPK and federal government for their failure to protect the worship places of the Christians.
The emotionally charged protesters also blocked the Main Kansi Road and burnt tyres. They said that the governments had failed in providing security to Christian community that led to loss of life of dozens of innocent people. They demanded the government arrest the culprits behind this barbaric attack. Protests were also held in many other cities and towns of the country.