KARACHI/RAWALPINDI, Pakistan: The Voice of Justice has strongly condemned the violent attack on the Christian religious leaders in front of a Church in Peshawar leaving Pastor William Siraj dead and Pastor Patrick Naeem injured.
In a candlelight vigil held in front of the Karachi Press Club in solidarity with the victims’ families, the office-bearers of the organization called on the government to apprehend the assailants, and put in place a mechanism to prevent the violent attack against religious minorities.
The candlelight vigil was followed by the consultative meeting called to discuss the government’s response to violence against minorities.
VFJ entire team strongly condemn the target killing of pastor William Siraj & Rev Patrick Naeem today in Peshawar Pakistan.Pas William died with gunshot. Asif Bastian Pres, Sindh & Ilyas Samuel spokesman of VFJ lightning the candles & demonstrating in front of Karachi press club. pic.twitter.com/VMy7KrpxvT
— Voice For Justice (@Voice4Justice7) January 30, 2022
In his statement, the Chairperson of the Voice of Justice Joseph Jansen said that the Christian community has never been found engaged in terror activities, however, the clergy men that promote the message of peace and tolerance are being attacked in Pakistan, which is unfortunate.
Joseph Jansen observed that the government has failed to ensure the minorities’ access to a fair trial, and to protect the religious minorities from target killings, attacks on minority settlements and worship places.
The President Sindh Voice for Justice Asif Bastian said that we are aggrieved over the targeting of the pastors as they were leaving Church following Sunday Mass, when two armed motorcyclists opened fire on the pastors’ vehicle.
Asif Bastian demanded that the police must trace and expose the assailants, and take serious action against them, and provide security to Pastor Patrick Naeem, who is the eyewitness to the violent attack.
The Spokesperson of the Voice for Justice Ilyas Samuel said that it is a failure of our law enforcement that makes the minorities more vulnerable. Therefore, the government needs to keep a check on those actors involved in radicalizing people against diverse groups.
The Catholic coordinator of Voice for Justice Ashiknaz Khokhar said that this incident of terrorism has sparked fears among minorities across Pakistan, and they are worried about the safety and security of their loved ones and worship places.
Ashiknaz Khokhar demanded that the government must effectively implement the national action plan on counter-terrorism, and take stern action against actors involved in spreading hatred and extremism.
Carol Noreen said that the militants have been targeting minorities finding them ‘soft targets’, however, the lack of implementation on the government policy/strategy to get rid of this menace has made the minorities pay a heavy price.
Carol Noreen said that Peshawar has already witnessed the deadliest attack on a Church in 2013 where two suicide bombers blew themselves up leaving at least 80 people killed and 120 wounded. The government should not wait for any other attack on minorities or worship place to happen, instead, it should introduce a comprehensive policy and plan of action about how to de-radicalize and de-weaponize the people.
Samuel Bashir condemns firing on priests of Diocese of Peshawar
Separately in Rawalpindi, Samuel Bashir – the Coordinator Minority Leadership Development Program, a project of the Center for Social Justice (CSJ) – also strongly condemned the firing on priests of Diocese of Peshawar and instant killing of Pastor William Siraj and injuring Rev Patrick Naeem.
“We demand justice and protection of Christians from the government of Pakistan,” he said.