Pakistan government must protect Christians from attacks

South Asian Christians call for action following further violence against Christians in Pakistan. The South Asian Forum of the Evangelical Alliance has joined with the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) to demand swift action from the Pakistani government.

Suicide bombers reportedly left at least 17 people dead in attacks on two churches in Lahore on Sunday and local church leaders report that despite threats over the past three months no additional protection was provided by the police.

Protests following the bombings also ended in violence and Father Gulzar of the attacked St John’s Catholic Church told the BPCA that police brutally beat many protesters leading to riots in which four Christian men were killed.

The Alliance’s South Asian Forum and the BPCA are calling for the Pakistani government to provide protection to Christians against these attacks, and for the UK government to use its influence to bring an end to the violence. Britain is the second largest foreign aid contributor to Pakistan and has provided over £300 million to the country in the last year. The BPCA and SAF are calling for this aid to be used to improve the lives of all and, particularly in the light of this funding, careful attention should be maintained on ensuring the protection of minority groups.

Manoj Raithatha, national coordinator for the Evangelical Alliance’s South Asian Forum, said: “These attacks are becoming more and more frequent and the Pakistani government must protect Christians. The UK and the international community need to wake up to the violence that is being perpetrated and take decisive steps immediately to put pressure on Pakistan to stop these attacks.”

Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the BPCA, said: “This latest attack on an innocent Christian community is symptomatic of the hatred and vilification that Christians and other minorities face in Pakistan.

“My heart aches for my brothers and sisters in Pakistan who are undergoing such extreme persecution. The global Church has to speak out for this voiceless community or their suffering is set to get worse.”

Maryam Bibi, a parishioner at Christ Church, which was attacked, told the BPCA: “As soon as the service finished I could hear guns firing and I asked my mother to stay seated at the front of the church. Soon after there was blast at the gates and pieces of flesh and blood sprayed across all of those in the church.

“Everywhere I looked there were broken window panes, blood and shoes scattered across the blast site.”

As well as calling for action from the Pakistani and British governments, the two groups of South Asian Christians are also asking the Church to join together in prayer for the victims and their families, the churches in Lahore and for calm on the streets in the wake of these attacks.

The British Pakistani Christian Association have also initiated a petition calling on the Pakistani government to put a stop to the violence towards Christians. Click here to sign the petition.