10/03/2008, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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“Daily war against terrorism is the Pakistani people's war”

by Qaiser Felix
A Christian lawmaker, who heads a Pakistani minority group, talks to AsiaNews about the atmosphere of terror that is gripping the country. He explains that the war on terrorism has become a fight to free Pakistan from extremism for security.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Tensions are still high in Islamabad and other Pakistani cities following the 20 September Marriot Hotel bombing which killed 53 and injured 266. Tight security measures have not however discouraged terrorists, so much so that the United Kingdom and the United States Embassies have told their diplomats to send their families home, thus confirming that they expect further attacks.

Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian member of Pakistan’s lower house, told AsiaNews that fear is widespread because 99 per cent of the victims of attacks are Pakistanis even though the main target is the international community.

Yesterday for example in Wali Bagh in Charsadda (North-West Frontier Province) security forces prevented the assassination of Awami National Party Chief Asfandyar Wali Khan. Five persons, including two policemen and a suicide bomber, were killed and 12 others injured in the attack.

Interior Affairs Minister Rehman Malik said that the government was undaunted and the war on terror would continue until the militants are defeated.

“There is no other option,'' Malik said, adding that we “will not stop any operation unless we reach its logical end. That means that this war will continue until we make Pakistan terrorism-free.”

Bhatti, who also chairs the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), slammed the attack and all kinds of terrorism, especially that by the Taliban and al-Qaeda who want to spread an idea of Islam that is creating panic in Pakistan and around the world.

“Behind these brutal attacks there is but one force. The war against the militants is important but finding their strategists and financiers is more important,” he said.

“It is worrisome that the extremists can attract so many young people, ready to kill and be killed,” he lamented.

“Many say that the war on terror is an American war and that the Pakistani government is killing its own people, but now this war is for Pakistan, for our innocent people killed in many attacks. For this reason the war on terror has become our war. Everyone must realise this and work with the government for our own security against extremism.”

“In this the role of the media is fundamental,” he said. “They should not glorify the extremists and their acts of terror or justify them. There are no justifications for the murder of the innocent.”

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