LAHORE/ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR - Nationwide protests against twin suicide strikes on a historic church of Peshawar continued on Tuesday. The protesters called for better protection after the devastating double bombings on All Saints Church that claimed more than 80 lives.
Highly-agitated Christians continued venting their rage on the second day in many parts of the country, blocking highways and other transport arteries and indulging in firing, ransacking and violence in which dozens of people were injured.
In Lahore, people staged demonstration at Faisal Chowk and Regal Chowk, Lahore Press Club Youhanabad, Shahdara, Sanda, Bhatta Chowk, Walton Road, Makka Colony, Garhi Shahu, Baghbanpura, Ferozpur Road, Thokar Niaz Baig, Liberty Roundabout and GPO Chowk. The protesters blocked various roads and the Motorway also.
All Parties Minorities Alliance took out rally from Lahore Press Club (LPC) to Charring Cross where they staged a sit-in. The protesters took a swipe at the government for getting into dialogue with Taliban, saying that the rulers were going to hold talks with killers. Separately, Punjab University Christian employees rallied from Faisal Auditorium to New Campus Bridge. Pastor Danial Rafique Khokhar, Prof William, Supervisor and leader of PU Christian community Mushtaq Masih and others participated in the demo. Similarly, students and faculty of PU College of Art and Design took out a rally.
Religio-political leaders, civil society activists, lawyers and student also took to the streets to show solidarity with the protesting Christians. PPP leader Sardar Latif Khosa led a rally from GPO Chowk to Charring Cross on The Mall. The protesters reiterated their party’s resolve to stand by minorities in the hour of need.
PTI held a demonstration at Liberty Chowk. The demonstrators offered special prayers and held a vigil in the memory of victims. The demonstration was led by PTI Punjab minority wing president Shehneela Rot while Ijaz Chaudhary, Dr Yasmin Rashid, Andleeb Abbas, Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, Mian Aslam Iqbal, Shafqat Mehmood, Hamid Meeraj and Fawad Rasool also attended the demo. PML-Q held a protest in front of Lahore Press Club. The demonstration was led by Engineer Shahzad Elahi, party’s president minorities’ wing.
The Lahore Waste Management Company also held a vigil at Minar-e-Pakistan to show solidarity with the bereaved families. More than 5,000 clay-lamps were set lighted by participants as a symbol of peace national unity. Various religious leaders joined in the vigil. The participants also observed one-minute silence. LWMC MD Waseem Ajmal Chaudhry, Maulana Raghib Naeemi, Maulana Intekhab Noori, Father Francis, Manoher Lal and Bishan Singh were among the noted participants. Similar protests were staged in other parts of the county.
Meanwhile, condemnations kept pouring in. In a press release, the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus strongly condemned the suicide bombings in Peshawar. The caucus reiterated its commitment to stand united and firm against the menace of terrorism. The Caucus urged the government to protect worship places and ensure compensation to the heirs of the killed and best possible treatment facilities to the injured.
Earlier China condemned the twin suicide blasts in Peshawar. China is against all forms of terrorism, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a written press release. He conveyed China's deep condolences to the victims and sincere sympathies to their families and the injured. Voicing a sincere wish for Pakistani safety and stability, Hong said China will continue to support Pakistan development and implement its anti-terrorism and security strategy based on its national situation. “France condemns yesterday's heinous attack on a church in Peshawar. It offers its condolences to the victims' loved ones and reiterates its full solidarity with the authorities and the Pakistani people in the face of terrorism,” said a message received here. France asks the Pakistani government to take all necessary measures to protect the populations targeted by these attacks, it said.