HRCP demands stern action against perpetrators
Condemning the attacks on Lahore’s two churches last Sunday, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called upon the federal and provincial governments to act decisively to protect the religious minorities’ interests if greater disasters are to be avoided.
In a statement issued here on Monday, the commission said The Sunday’s attacks on two Lahore churches within the city’s largest Christian settlement, and hence entitled to maximum security cover, have been rightly condemned by all shades of opinion except for the diehard defenders of terrorist outfits. While we extend our sincere condolences to the bereaved families and wish the wounded earliest possible recovery, they and the Christian community as a whole deserve firmer assurances of solidarity and protection than is possible by words of sympathy or offers of financial or other material relief. Their demand for peace and justice is the real issue.
The latest outrage has exposed several serious fault lines that the authorities must earnestly attend to on a priority basis. First of all a thorough inquiry should be held to determine whether the arrangements made to protect religious congregations and living quarters, especially of the minority communities, are adequate and a system of oversight and renovation is in place.
Secondly, although the violent reaction of the Christian community is understandable the lynching and burning of two men, even if there was reason to suspect them of mischief, cannot be condoned. Nor can the danger of a cycle of revenge atrocities taking shape be ignored. If there is any truth in the allegation that the victims had been in police custody before they were pounced upon by the mob it may not be difficult to identify the heads that should roll.
Above all, the state must remove the impression that the National Plan of Action against terrorism has really not taken off. That some officials have been fixing the dates on which the wretched occupants of the death cells should be hanged counts for pretty little in the grim battle with terrorists.
The comprehensive mechanism, providing for enforcement of laws and policies, effective policing, and measures for reviving the minorities’ faith in the state’s ability to protect them, that the situation demands is not yet in sight. Any further delay in removing this deficiency will condemn the vulnerable communities and the country in general, to greater disasters. The enormous challenge Pakistan is facing must be matched by the federal and provincial governments’ will and their demonstrable capacity to do their duty by the people, especially the more vulnerable among them.