Terrorists are intolerant species, their tactics is to bomb and kill. The recent attacks on Churches in Lahore, in which, fifteen people were killed and around 75 injured have triggered hue and cry in the Christian community. Children and women were also among the victims. Christian community is extremely annoyed over the state machinery’s inability to protect their prayer areas. Immediately, after the attacks, widespread protests were conducted throughout the country. Some elements of the Christian community went violent, the metro bus service was attacked.
The Christian community even refused to talk to government officials. Angered crowd also burnt two passer byes alive. Had the police and Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) quick to respond, the passer byes could have been saved, and the attack on the metro bus could also have been prevented. The terrorist outfit behind the attack was the TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) linked Jamaat-ul-Ahrar. TTP is a major irritant for Pakistan; the terrorist outfit has been carrying out attacks throughout the country. TTP was also behind the Peshawar school tragedy, in which over 145 people, including 133 school children were martyred; an evil act, unheard of in human history.
These current terrorist attacks in which the innocent Pakistanis, the places of worship of different Muslim and non-Muslim communities are being targeted has created an environment of terror. The entire aim is to create rift/hatred among the various segments of the Pakistani society, and divide the country on religious/ethnic lines. Such attacks, no doubt, have impacted the society, minority groups to some extent are antagonized; the anguish expressed by the Christian community speaks of this. However, has the enemy been successful in dividing the Pakistani nation on the war against terrorism? Well, Pakistan is steadfast in its fight against terrorism. Pakistan has been blessed with the strongest military, which has struck terror into the terrorists. Operation Zarb-e-Azab speaks of our Armed Forces valour. The country has tested its first armed drone and laser-guided missile. The perpetrators behind the anti-Pakistan campaign are, in actual, living in a fool’s paradise. They should know that the Pakistani nation is not aloof; they as a nation are united against terrorism, and will fight back this sinister campaign of employing religion as a tool in killing the innocents. Islam is a religion of peace, Islam does not allow killings of innocent, women and children.
The minorities, in particular, the Christian community in Pakistan are hard-working, peaceful citizens of the country; they have excellent contributions in Pakistan’s progress. It would not be wrong to say that they form an integral part of the society. In this regard, the Quaid’s historical Presidential address, which he gave to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947 is significant: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State … We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.”
Since Pakistan’s fight against terrorism, some quarters have been trying to malign Pakistan’s image and discredit her anti-terrorist moves. Regional actors have also distanced themselves from Pakistan. India under the garb of War on Terror (WoT) has reinforced its ingress in neighbouring. This has been a source of instability in Pakistan and the region at large. There seems to be a simmering campaign against Pakistan. It appears, the aim is to portray Pakistan as an unstable state and thwart the establishment of a secure economic corridor with China. An important aspect in this context is the lack of cooperation at the regional level. The regional states should understand that it is not only Pakistan which is suffering; rather, the entire region’s progress has been stalled. Due to the insecure regional environment, energy connectivity projects – TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-Iran), IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India) and CASA (Central Asia South Asia) have been delayed.
Therefore, if SAARC countries want to emerge on the world stage as an economically prosperous region, cooperation at regional level is a must. SAARC states need to get united against terrorism, ensure security/stability of the region, and reap the benefits of energy connectivity/cooperation. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will also constitute energy transfer and is central to the region’s progress.
Amna Ejaz Rafi
Researcher, Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI)