Last Sunday, there was a double-suicide attack on a Christian church that left 81 people dead – including 34 women and 7 children – and more than 100 wounded (including 37 children) in Peshawar. It happened as churchgoers were leaving after Sunday service, to partake in a free meal that was being handed out on the lawn outside, when two explosions ripped through the crowd:
“As soon as the service finished and the food was being distributed, all of a sudden we heard one explosion, followed by another,” said Azim Ghori, a witness.
The attacks were just the latest in a string of suicide attacks that have plagued houses of worship throughout the country – both Muslim and Christian – in the last year.
In March, a Muslim mob swarmed through a Christian neighborhood in the eastern city of Lahore, burning two churches and more than 100 houses. Christians also frequently find themselves accused of blasphemy under Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws.
The attacks are mostly orchestrated by Sunni extremist militant groups, although some have also been claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.
There is really no definitive pattern here, since most of the Sunnis have been the victims – and less so the perpetrators – of terrorism lately. And considering that the United States government started the “Taliban” (aka “Al Qaeda”), we should probably look into the C.I.A. and their backed thugs roaming the middle east before continuing to repeat propaganda about a group of people who are as equally abused by the government as the other ethnic/religious groups that inhabit the area. It seems like all minority groups in Pakistan have been suffering, but that this attack targeting Christians is somewhat new:
Whatever the number, it was Pakistan’s worst attack on Christians, sparking impassioned, country-wide protests. Christians are a tiny and politically weak minority in Muslim-majority Pakistan who suffer from prejudice and sporadic bouts of mob violence. But Sunday was the first time that bombs had been used to such deadly effect on worshippers….
“Everyone is ignoring the growing danger to Christians in Muslim-majority countries. The European countries don’t give a damn about us.”
Politically, at least, there would be plenty of reasons why any Western-backed terrorist group would want to carry out this attack ; Less than two weeks earlier, the Pakistani government announced that it was willing to negotiate with the Taliban in the area, which would not be good for destabilization efforts by the West – an ongoing campaign that has been heavily documented.
Sunday’s suicide bombing at a church in Pakistan comes less than a two weeks after the government confirmed it will move ahead with peace talks with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) …
although Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the government would be “unable to move forward” with the dialogue, he did not state clearly that the initiative would be abandoned.
Neither did he announce any plans for a military offensive against the TTP, an ally of the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda which has strongholds in the north-west tribal belt, along the Pakistan-Afghan border.
Sharif, who is en route to New York for this week’s U.N. General Assembly meetings, called the attackers enemies of the country and insisted they had nothing to do with Islam.
For its part, the TTP Jundullah faction, claiming responsibility for the blasts, said the Christians were “enemies of Islam, therefore we target them.”
“We will continue our attacks on non-Muslims on Pakistani land,” spokesman Ahmed Marwat told wire services by phone. He was also quoted as linking the attack to U.S. drone strikes targeting terrorists in the tribal belt.
Naming the Dead builds on the Bureau’s two-year project tracking drone strikes in Pakistan and the numbers of people reportedly killed. This extensive research has found that at least 2,500 people have reportedly been killed, including at least 400 civilians. But almost nothing is known about the identities of these casualties.
Also important to remember is the fact that the day after the attack, the U.S. derailed an upcoming Congressional hearing regarding the drone strikes by refusing to allow a key witness – who is also a drone strike victim, himself – to enter the country to testify at the hearing.
Shahzad Akbar, a legal fellow with the British human rights group Reprieve and the director of the Pakistan-based Foundation for Fundamental Rights, says the State Department is preventing him for taking his clients to Capitol Hill next week. The hearing would mark the first time US lawmakers heard directly from drone strike survivors.
Luckily for us, CBS News cuts through the manure:
A wing of the Pakistani Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying they would continue to target non-Muslims until the U.S. stops drone attacks in the remote tribal region of Pakistan.
The bombings also raised new questions about the Pakistani government’s push to strike a peace deal with the militants to end a decade-long insurgency that has killed thousands of people.
“What dialogue are we talking about? Peace with those who are killing innocent people,” asked the head of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, Paul Bhatti, whose brother, a federal minister, was gunned down by an Islamic extremist in 2011.
“They don’t want dialogue,” said Bhatti. “They don’t want peace.”
The death toll on Monday climbed to 81, after three more of the wounded in Peshawar died overnight, according to police official Noor Khan.
Fast-forward to two days later, when a 7.7 earthquake shattered any semblance of normalcy for Pakistani citizens.
The earthquake was reportedly so intense, it created a new, small island. According to Reuters:
A major earthquake hit a remote part of western Pakistan on Tuesday, killing at least 45 people and prompting a new island to rise from the sea just off the country’s southern coast.
And according to the BBC:
More than 300,000 people have been affected over a total of six districts – Awaran, Kech, Gwadar, Panjgur, Chaghi and Khuzdar – Balochistan government spokesman Jan Muhammad Buledi said.
He told BBC Urdu that the death toll currently stood at 328 – 160 in Awaran town, 125 in other areas of Awaran district and 43 in Kech.
It is feared the death toll could rise once other areas are reached. The number of wounded is reportedly more than 440.
Awaran local government official Abdul Rasheed Baluch said about 90% of houses in the district had been destroyed.
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