Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – To express serious concern about the repeated acts of violence against Christians in Quetta and Lahore; to condemn these attacks and dissociate oneself from the authors, disavowing those who abuse religion to commit violence; to address a heartfelt appeal to the government of Pakistan to arrest the guilty and proceed with a fast justice: these are the aims of the conference organized yesterday, April 18, in Lahore by the National Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, within the Catholic episcopal Conference, and by the "United Religions initiatives" (URI) organization in Pakistan.
At the meeting, Christian and Muslim leaders reiterated that religions in Pakistan intend to work for justice and harmony.
As Dominican Fr. James Channan OP, at the head of URI-Pakistan told Agenzia Fides, everyone strongly condemned the brutal murder of Christians in Essa Nagri, in Quetta. Fr. Francis Nadeem, executive secretary of the Commission, said that "it is the responsibility of the State to provide security to every citizen without any distinction. We want the safety of our homes, churches and schools. The Government of Pakistan should take immediate measures to safeguard Christians".
Channan notes that "we live in a very tense atmosphere: terrorists are destroying peace and Christians live in a state of fear, as Christians and Muslims, we demand justice for the victims, security for poor and vulnerable Christians, compensation for the families affected. We are appealing to the President of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take measures on the targeted killings of innocent Christians in Quetta. "Fr. Channan also mentioned the recent incidents of violence in the city of Shadara (near Lahore), where unknown people burnt a church, noting that "very often the police are reluctant to filing a First Information Report (FIR) against the perpetrators".
Mufti Ashiq Hussain, a Muslim leader present, reiterated "the firm condemnation of the unjust and brutal killing of our Christian brothers and sisters in Quetta, and I ask the government of Pakistan to give them moral and financial support". "The Christians killed in Quetta are martyrs of peace and their sacrifice will bring a positive change in our society".
"We must show courage and passion in order to defuse the anti-peace projects of terrorists", added Islamic leader Allama Asim Makhdoom. "Muslims and Christians are brothers and we will continue to give our contribution to inter-confessional peace and harmony", he concluded. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 19/4/2018)