On April 2, four members of a Christian family were gunned down in Quetta. The family was travelling in a rickshaw when unknown armed men on a motorcycle intercepted them and opened fire. The family belonged to Punjab and was visiting relatives in the Balochistan capital. “It appears to have been a targeted attack,” provincial police official Moazzam Jah Ansari said. “It was an act of terrorism,” he added. The attack occurred a day after Pakistan’s Christian community celebrated Easter. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. An Islamic State press statement released on April 3, said that a “covert unit” of ISIS militants “managed to target a number of the combatant Christians.” The statement adds that the militants “shot them with a pistol, which resulted in the killing of four of them, and all praise is due to Allah.”
It is a fact that the Christian community is facing many terror attacks in Pakistan. Terror orgaisations like ISIS and the TTP, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Jundallah, etc., are attacking the community repeatedly.
In December 2017, ISIS killed nine Christians and injured around 50 others when suicide bombers struck a church in Quetta. In May 2017, ISIS kidnapped two Chinese nationals from Quetta.The group blamed them for preaching Christianity and killed them later.
A Taliban splinter group, the JuA (Jamaat-ul-Ahrar), killed around 80 Christians, including children and women, and wounded at least 300 others in a suicide blast in Gulshan-i-Iqbal park, Lahore in 2016. The Christians were celebrating Easter in the park. The JuA also killed around 70 people, mostly lawyers, and injured many in a suicide bomb attack at Quetta’s Civil Hospital in 2016.
In 2016, a Taliban splinter group targeting Christians killed a bystander and injured three members of Pakistan’s security forces when suicide bombers struck a Christian neighbourhood near Warsak Dam on the outskirts of Peshawar.
In 2013, a twin suicide bombing killed at least 125 people and injured over 250 at All Saints Church in Peshawar. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan-linked Islamist group Jundallah claimed responsibility for the attack.
Other minorities like the Ahmadies, Shia Hazara, etc are also being attacked by the militants frequently. These militant organisations want to destabilise Pakistan. They are also trying to ignite sectarian violence in the country, especially in Balochistan. The Lashkar-i-Jhangvi has already killed many Hazaras in different attacks in the province.
On 16 February, 2013, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi killed at least 110 people, belonging to the Hazara community, and 200 injured after a bomb hidden in a water tank exploded at a market in Hazara Town on the outskirts of Quetta. On 1 April, one person, belonging to the Hazara community was killed and another injured.
IS and the LJ have also carried out a number of joint operations in Pakistan. IS has also attacked Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sehwan in 2017, killing at least 75 people including women and children. The NACTA chief has already warned that IS poses a real danger to Pakistan. The presence of IS and the LJ in Balochistan is a serious threat to the security of the country. It is the duty of the state to take every action for wiping out their safe havens in Balochistan.
But, unfortunately, the PML-N government has already forgotten the National Action Plan (NAP). It is only interested to save its corrupt leadership. It is blind to the real threat and danger to the country.
Even the United Nations Security Council’s consolidated list of terrorist individuals and entities has included 139 entries from Pakistan. According to Dawn, “The list — updated and accessed on Tuesday(3rd April) — identifies all those individuals who have lived in Pakistan, operated from there or have been associated with groups that used Pakistani territory for carrying out their operations, from Al Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri to known Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) activists. The first person on the list is Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s heir apparent. The UN data claims that he is still hiding somewhere “in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area”. Several of his lieutenants are also on the list who, the UN believes, are hiding with him. The second person on the list is another internationally known terrorist, Ramzi Mohammad bin al-Sheibah, who is identified as a Yemeni national, arrested in Karachi and handed over to the US authorities. More than a dozen suspected terrorists are listed in the same category, arrested in Pakistan and handed over to the US authorities. Some of them had Pakistani passport, issued by various Pakistani missions in the Middle East and renewed in Pakistan. The list also includes Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, an Indian national who, according to the UN Security Council, has held several Pakistani passports issued in Rawalpindi and Karachi.
The UN claims that he owns a “palatial bungalow in the hilly area of Noorabad, Karachi”. LeT’s Hafiz Mohammad Saeed is listed as a person also wanted by Interpol for his involvement in terrorist activities. Haji Mohammed Yahya Mujahid, LeT’s media contact, and Hafiz Saeed’s deputies, Abdul Salaam and Zafar Iqbal, are listed under him. Like Hafiz Saeed, they are all wanted by Interpol. LeT is listed with its various aliases, such as al-Mansoorian, Paasban-i-Kashmir, Paasban-i-Ahle Hadith, Jamaatud Dawa and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation. Terrorist entities that were allegedly based in Pakistan, worked from there or had links to Pakistani individuals, include Al Rasheed Trust, Harkatul Mujahideen, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Wafa Humanitarian Organisation, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Rabita Trust, Ummah Tameer-i-Nau, Afghan Support Committee, Revival of Islamic Heritage Society, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Al-Harmain Foundation, Islamic Jihad Group, Al Akhtar Trust International, Harkatul Jihad Islami, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Jamaatul Ahrar and Khatiba Imam Al-Bukhari. Some of them are listed as based in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area.
On the other hand, a top Emirati security official, Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan, took to Twitter to denounce Pakistanis, accusing them of being a “dangerous threat to Gulf societies”. On April 1, Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan, who is the head of general security of Dubai, wrote in Arabic: “The Pakistanis pose a serious threat to the Gulf communities for the drugs they bring with them to our countries. The security official, who was the head of Dubai Police Force until 2013, termed it a “national duty to stop hiring Pakistanis”. “Why are the Indians disciplined while disruption, crime, and smuggling are prevalent in the Pakistani community?” he wrote, according to uaeviral.com.“ We became strict with the Bengalis because of the criminal tendencies they have shown. Pakistanis must be placed under an increased level of inspection.” Then, our Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s exemplary insult at the US airport clearly indicates that Pakistan is losing respect in the world due to its corruption and other bad policies. We are living in an age of “co-existence or no-existence”. The state should change its old policies if it wants to survive and earn respect in the comity of nations.