It seems the Christian community in Pakistan needs to brace itself for even worse times ahead. On Tuesday the Saint Peter’s Catholic Church and High School in Township, Lahore, came under attack when two masked motorcyclists opened fire with the intent to cause as much damage as possible. It is fortunate that the two police officers deployed to guard the church fought back and chased them away. Two passersby were injured but what is more scarring is the thought that we are far from developing a sound framework or policy to protect our minorities. So soon after the Youhanabad suicide attacks on two Christian churches just 10 days ago, in which more than 15 Christian worshippers were killed by the Taliban, one would think the government would wake up and in the very least order the adequate beefing up of security at prominent sites of worship for the Christian community. As highlighted in this case, we had a mere two but they fought back bravely and must be commended.
However, what cannot be commended is the government’s attitude, one that is proving to be exceedingly dangerous. In the Youhanabad incident all chaos ensued with the Christian minority lashing back after years of tolerating neglect by the state; the recent attacks on the church in Peshawar, the Gojra incident and the Joseph colony incident all point towards complete disregard for the embattled Christians in Pakistan. For how long can they just turn the other cheek and pray? Whilst the lynching of two innocent bystanders by the Christian mob in Youhanabad cannot be condoned in any way, it is clear that their patience has run its course. The statements issued by the government, both federal and provincial, focusing only on the lynching by the Christian mob and totally ignoring the context of why the lynching took place — the attacks on the churches — smacks of bias and discrimination against the downtrodden Christians in this country. Chaudhry Nisar and the media in Pakistan have gone on and on about the lynching victims but have not spared a thought for the 15 or more Christians killed in the attack. This is the national psyche that terrorist elements have taken advantage of, attacking another church just days after the riots that put Lahore on hold.
There is no connect between the ground reality and the policies being devised to protect our minorities. We are already overburdened by the monster of sectarian conflict and now the government is stoking the fires of interfaith clashes. If there is to be any peace, the government must see all citizens equally, and that includes the minorities. Jinnah’s dream seems to have turned into our nightmare.Courtesy Daily Times