08/09/2016, 09.22
PAKISTAN
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Pakistani Church: Government must protect citizens' right to life

by Shafique Khokhar

After the massacre in Quetta, the Justice and Peace Commission recalls that the province of Balochistan has suffered more than 1,400 episodes of violence in the last 15 years: "The situation is unacceptable, and we will be at the side of the population". Civil movements demand Islamabad account for security.disaster. The hospital attack, claimed by ISIS and the Pakistani Taliban, killed over 70 people: more than 200 wounded.

Quetta (AsiaNews) - Balochistan "has suffered more than 1,400 violent incidents in the past 15 years. Killing the innocent, targeting hospitals are inhumane acts. The government must take action once and for all: the Catholic Church is and will always remain at the side of the population, especially in these hours of suffering", says Msgr. Arshad Joseph, Bishop of Faisalabad and President of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, commenting on yet another massacre that took place yesterday in Quetta.

A suicide bomber, presumed to be a member Isis, detonated himself inside a municipal hospital. The death toll is still provisional: the latest figure of 74 dead and about 200 injured. The bomb squad confirmed that the explosion came from a suicide attack and that metal balls were also used to maximise casualties.

The Pakistani Taliban Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a faction that broke away from the original group of fundamentalists, are disputing the Islamic State claim to the attack, saying it had carried out the bombing and of being responsible for the murder of lawyer Bilal Anwar Kasi which also took place yesterday. There are at least 18 lawyers and journalists among the victims at the hospital, and it is conceivable that the purpose was precisely to strike the lawyers. All of the Balochistan lawyers targeted in the attack opposed the introduction of Sharia law in the province.

Pakistani media report that yesterday's bombing is the bloodiest of 2016. In a statement signed by Msgr. Arshad, Fr. Emmanuel Yousef Mani and Shane Cecil Chaudry, of the Episcopal Commission "strongly condemn what happened. It is a inhuman gesture that can not be tolerated. The government has a duty to improve security measures, guaranteeing the right to life of its citizens ".

Civil society is semanding better security measures. The "Rwadari Tehreek", a lay movement committed "to restoring peace to Pakistan," held a rally "open to anyone, from any life path. The important thing is that they want peace". Samson Salamat, president of the group, explains: "We need the government to wake up. The only response to attacks like this is zero tolerance towards those who propagate terrorism”.

Congresswoman Sadia Sohail adds: "It seems now clear that tackling violent extremism is not a priority of Islamabad. Instead of spending resources and energy on trivial matters, we have to focus on this".

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