01/16/2014, 00.00
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Pakistani Christians and Muslims celebrate two "martyrs" in the fight against terrorism

by Shafique Khokhar
In Faisalabad, activists and ordinary Pakistanis hold a candlelight vigil to honour the memory of Aitzaz Hassan and Aslam Khan. They appeal to the Government to drop "fruitless dialogue" with extremists, and take instead "concrete steps" to achieve peace and justice. A prayer vigil was held in Lahore to for unity against terrorism.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - The government should not engage in a "fruitless dialogue" with terrorists. Instead, it should take "concrete steps" and adopt an appropriate "strategy" against terrorism and the mind-set of those who spread fear and violence across the country.

Activists and civil society groups who took part in a candlelight vigil (pictured) in memory of a young student and a leading anti-terrorism cop killed in separate attacks by Islamic fundamentalism want "public security" to become the top priority.

Throughout the country, various events and initiatives have been organised to remember two martyrs, Aitzaz Hassan, a young student in Hangu, and Chaudhry Aslam Khan, a CID superintendent in Karachi, both murdered by Islamic extremists.

The Peace and Human Development (PHD) Foundation and the Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM), in cooperation with the Adara Samaji Behbood (SBA), the National of Pakistan Minorities Alliance (NMAP) and the Human Rights Defenders Network came together for peace last night outside the Faisalabad Press Club.

They were joined the candlelight vigil by many ordinary citizens in order to commemorate the two martyrs and loudly express their opposition to terrorism.

Their demands on the government include stronger and more effective action against fundamentalism and organisations that have carried out with impunity attacks across the country.

For activists, those who fight terror should be considered "national heroes", remembered for their "extreme courage "and integrity in carrying out their action.

Participants lit candles and proudly showed the pictures of Aitzaz Hassan and Aslam Khan. Many posters, slogans and banners also praised peace and called for an end to the violence.

PHD Foundation Director Suneel Malik slammed the government for pursuing peace talks with the Taliban - "enemies of humanity" and "killers of innocent citizens" - instead of stopping the slide towards extremism.

AWAM Programme Director Naseem Anthony expressed serious concerns over the "dismal situation of law and order" in the country and demanded urgent action before the situation gets completely out of control.

For her part, women's rights activist Shazia George noted that "It is the fundamental duty of the state to provide protection to the common man, but it is terrorists who are moving freely".

For political activist Robin Daniel, "The government and politicians must implement a clear cut policy against terrorism."

"Terrorism has become an incurable disease. Therefore, it is useless to negotiate with the terrorists who have no respect for human beings," said Touheed Ahmed Chattha, a Muslim educationist.

"The terrorists," he added, "can be fought only with decisive military action, and must be brought to justice for targeting innocent people."

In Lahore, thousands of people attended another prayer vigil held under the auspices of the local Catholic Church to remember the two "heroes.

The country "is united against terrorism," said during the ceremony Fr Arif Gill, a diocesan priest, who also mentioned "the two brave men who gave their life to save others."

"It is time to take sides," he noted; the choice is between "feeding terrorism or uprooting it."

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