Additional security measures needed for Pakistan’s Catholics

security measures

Looking for new security measures is a priority for Pakistan’s Catholic leaders after a wave of terrorist attacks has hung the country on tenterhooks.

The Catholic Church in the Muslim-majority nation needs to better protect itself, police say.

Abboattabad parish priest Father Nasir William says: “We are being asked to hire private guards, install closed-circuit television cameras and raise the height of boundary walls of churches.”

The fence is already 12 feet [3.6 meters] high, he notes.

Abboattabad is where al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden died in a US raid in 2011.

“All the churches in our diocese [Islamabad-Rawalpindi] have already adopted such security measures. The visits of security officials have become rampant, but the tragedies continue. What more can we do?” William asks.

TheKhyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government helps with security. It provides at least two police officers to escort priests and nuns. The province borders Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

Country in turmoil

William says the Abboattabad police’s July 30 instructions followed a suicide blast at a political rally in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The bomber targeted about 400 Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party members near a Bajaur market. Police say nearly 12 kilograms of explosives killed 54 people including 23 children.

On 31 July, the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) claimed responsibility for the bombing.

That attack was one of several such events recently. Economic and political turmoil has beset Pakistan since former prime minister Imran Khan was removed through a no-confidence motion in April 2022.

People are expected to go to the polls for new national and provincial assemblies within the next few months.

Church leaders respond

“The blast … made existing tensions really come to the fore,” Archbishop Joseph Arshad says.

“We strongly condemn the brutal attack where many innocent people have lost their lives and many got injuries. The people responsible must be brought to justice.

“All political leadership must push for a political solution so that democracy may flourish in our country.

“The Church has volunteers and the local administration is also providing security at churches. We continue to play our part to build peaceful coexistence in society.”

James Rehmat, executive director of the Ecumenical Commission for Human Development is also condemning the pre-election violence.

“The deadly bombing at a political rally in the months running up to the general election poses a threat to our already fragile democracy and the ailing economy.

“Daesh [IS-K] is known for targeting vulnerable religious minorities. We call upon the government to bring the perpetrators to justice.”


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