Standing upright against Terrorism. By Aftab A. Christopher
It was not so two years back. Christians in Pakistan were living in peace. No Muslim extremist had ever attacked any Christian life or property in Pakistan. But after the 9/11 attacks the situation drastically changed for Pakistani Christians as it c
Not only Christians and their institutions but also Westerns and Muslim Mosques are under attack here. The anti-US elements put in the same lot every body who sides with the international coalition against terrorism. This is the cost we are paying as a nation for fighting against international terrorism.
Terrorist activities can happen in any place of the world despite security measures of the relevant governments and their intelligence agencies. Since there is always place for improvement there is always place for the lapses. Where both size of area and that of population pose challenge for the governments and intelligence agencies to protect the lives and property of their citizens, they on the other hand provide chances for the terrorists. But still it does not offer any excuse for a government and its defense agencies for failing to protect lives of its citizens their property and institutions. It is the prime and basic responsibility of a government to ensure security to its people. Terrorist happenings anywhere in the world are deplorable but they are all the more distressing when minorities are targeted.
Pakistan government has provided security guards to almost all the worship places, schools, and hospitals of the minorities as well as security to mosques and other sensitive public places. On October 28 last year the terrorists first killed two police security guards before massacring 16 worshipers in the St. Dominic Church, Bahawalpur. The security also fails when security guards are killed. The point here is not that one should not provide security but the point is besides providing security we need to trace out where the terrorists are getting ammunition, how they move it, how they carry it, how they communicate to each other and how their movements can be traced out. A government needs to be more cautious about the movements of terrorists in addition to warranting security to its people.
The terrorists are trying to pose a constant threat to peaceful living in Pakistan by attacking Pakistani society and foreigners living here. This is the way they are retaliating for the US operations against terrorism in Afghanistan.
When last year Pakistan had decided to side with the international community against terrorism Pakistan had placed its army troops to guard its borderline with Afghanistan so that Al-Qaeda survivors of the war don't drop into Pakistan. Then all Islamic hard-liner Groups were banned and their activists arrested. There were also raids on different places in Pakistan as a joint exercise of US-Pakistan army for arresting the Al-Qaeda or other Islamic extremist activists belonging to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami (HUJI), the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad. In recent operations in Karachi about 21 terrorists of Harkat Al-Mujahideen Al-Almi were arrested by the government.
Pakistan's sincerity and role against terrorism speaks for itself and is praiseworthy. Pakistan practically engaged itself into the war against terrorism and took drastic operations at home. Pakistan decided to take part in the war against terrorism right in the face of all the horrors of war, retaliative attacks at home and then forces of the enemy on its borders as an aftermath. Pakistan is fighting on three fronts at a time, viz., in Afghanistan siding with USA, at home with terrorists and on the borders with India who poses untiring threat of nuclear war against Pakistan. One does not need very sharp brains to judge what has been the role of Pakistan against terrorism and what that of India. Slogans, shoutings, attacks on minorities, self-attacks, mock attacks at home to throw the blame on Pakistan and then threats of nuclear war against Pakistan. Attacks and threats is one gets form India all the time. Had we had a peaceful country to be our neighbor our efforts and achievements against terrorism would have doubled. Since India moved its military troops and arms to the borders it has hampered and hurt Pakistan's struggle against terrorism. Pakistan had to move its military engaged on Afghanistan border - for monitoring and protecting the move of terrorists into the territory of Pakistan - to Indian borders. Also our defense and intelligence agencies had to busy themselves for taking care of the borders with India. Naturally, this shifted Pakistan's prime focus on the war against terrorism to the borders with India and preparation for encountering the possible nuclear threat from India. This also gives opportunities to terrorists and RAW (Research and Analysis Wing), the Indian Intelligence to accomplish its nefarious agenda in Pakistan as focus of Pakistani defense agencies is divided on many fronts.
It has been India's coveted desire that minorities in Pakistan should not live in peace so that India could shift international focus to Pakistan from India's Hindu extremism and the barbarism against minorities at home. The respectful status Pakistan has been giving to its minorities, India has never given to its minorities. Minorities in India have ever been down-trodden and maltreated.
The recent terrorist attack on the Institute of Peace and Justice (Adara-e-Aman-o-Insaf) -an NGO (Non-Government Organization) of Pakistani Christians also issuing a monthly magazine "Jafa Kush" - is the fifth terrorist attack on Christian community in Pakistan claiming seven innocent lives. Attacks on Christian communities hitherto have claimed about 37 innocent lives.
The Christian community underwent its first terrorist attack on St. Dominic Church Bahawalpur where 16 worshipers died. The Second was Islamabad International Congregation which claimed 5 lives. Third was on Murree Christian School where 6 people lost their life at the hand of terrorists. Fourth was on Texila Hospital where 3 people were dead and now the Institute of Peace and Justice was targeted by terrorists depriving 7 people of their precious lives.
Christians in Pakistan have ever been living peacefully and have never taken part in any kind of religious, communal or political extremism. Whenever they are discriminated or attacked they never retaliate. They are innocent people in real sense of the world. Terrorist attacks on this kind of people is real cowardice. The people who are targeting harmless and defense less Christians in Pakistan are fulfilling no religion and serving no God.
Muslims in Pakistan at large take Christians to be their brothers as well to be "People of the Book". A Muslim knowing his own religion in real sense of Islam never hates or discriminates Christians. It is only a clique of wayward religious extremists - who are using religion for their own vested interests - attack Christians in Pakistan.
However defense and intelligence agencies of Pakistan require to be more cautious about protecting the lives and properties of Christians and other minorities here. If the lapses continue to be there and the terrorists keep on finding chances to attack minorities, it could engulf Pakistan into the fire of communal war and could provide opportunities to the hostile powers against Pakistan.
Protection of civil live is not only a matter of condemning and deploring terrorist happenings as they take place but we need to probe deeper and deeper that how we can ensure peace and safety of life for the common man here.
The Christians have always been standing together with their Muslim brothers in every sort of critical time and at this time when our government is fighting against terrorism united with the international coalition against terrorism we stand upright with our Muslim brothers even at the cost of our lives because we are one Pakistani nation.