01/31/2022, 12.58
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Peshawar: Anglican reverend killed, Christians united in grief

by Shafique Khokhar

The pastor was dead yesterday as he returned home after Sunday liturgy in the province closest to the border with Afghanistan. Minorities say after the ceasefire with the Taliban, the government does nothing to protect them. Archbishop Travas of Karachi: "Immediate and serious measures must be taken against those who undermine peace and harmony".

Peshawar (AsiaNews) - The entire community of Pakistan is in shock after the attack in which the Anglican Reverend William Siraj was killed yesterday in Peshawar. The clergyman was hit by gunshots fired by some motorcyclists near Ring Road while he was returning home after Sunday liturgy in a car together with the Reverend Patrick Naeem, whose coadjutor Siraj was. Reverend Naeem was also injured in the ambush. Siraj was 75 years old and was ministering in a church in Chamkani, which is located in Gulbahar district, not far from the site of the assault.

Bishop Humphrey Sarfaraz Peters, of the diocese of Peshawar and moderator of the Anglican Church of Pakistan, expressed his sorrow at the death of the cleric, saying he prayed that his martyrdom would bring blessings to the local Christian community. Bishop Sarfaraz also recalled that the Church in Pakistan has faced many challenges, but he thanked God that he continues to call priests to serve his flock.

Archbishop Benny Mario Travas of Karachi also expressed the grief of the Pakistani Catholic community over what happened in Peshawar. "All Christians are united with the Anglican Church of Pakistan at this time," he commented. This ambush," he added, "undermines peace and religious harmony throughout the country. For this reason, the archbishop asked the Pakistani government to "take immediate and serious measures, arrest the murderers and work for peace and security for all minorities".

Mahmood Khan - the prime minister of the local government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Pakistan's north-western border region) has ordered the police to take the necessary steps to arrest the perpetrators. The investigators are checking CCTV cameras in the area.

Naveed Walter, president of Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), everything points to a targeted attack by Islamist groups based across the border in Afghanistan, just a few dozen kilometres from Peshawar. This is a threat that minorities have been facing for a long time, as evidenced by the 2013 attack on the All Saints Church or the murders of Sikhs and Hindus targeted by Taliban death squads. 

Naveed Walter blames the ambiguities of the government in Islamabad, which was well aware that after the end of the ceasefire with the Taliban there was a risk of further attacks, but did not take measures to protect minorities. "The government is trying to prove that it is in favour of a pure Islamic country. It rejects proposed laws to protect minorities, such as those on kidnappings, forced conversions and forced marriages, describing them as 'un-Islamic'". Hence the renewed call for immediate action to bring the perpetrators of this murder and those behind it to justice.

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