Killing of Priest Reaffirms Pakistan’s Status as Unsafe for Minorities

Pakistan has been an unsafe country for religious minorities for decades and once again we witnessed an attack on Pakistan’s beleaguered Christian minority. On Sunday January 30, gunmen killed a Christian priest and wounded another as the clerics were driving home from church in Peshawar.

According to Reuters, “Two attackers on a motorcycle opened fire on the car on the city’s ring-road, killing Pastor William Siraj instantly. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the shooting in a city. Azad Marshall, the most senior bishop in the Church of Pakistan, condemned the attack and tweeted: “We demand justice and protection of Christians from the Government of Pakistan.”

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) issued a strong statement condemning the murder of Pastor William Siraj. “HRCP sees this as a blatant assault not only on Pakistan’s Christian community, but on all religious minorities whose right to life and security of person remains under constant threat. We are especially concerned that, amid signs of growing radicalisation across the country, religious minorities will become increasingly relegated to the margins and violence against their communities allowed to continue with impunity.”

HRCP also noted, “It has been eight years since the Supreme Court judgment handed down by Justice Tassaduq Jillani in 2014 laid down concrete measures for the state to protect the rights of religious minorities. More than ever, the ethos of this judgement must be understood and pursued by all arms of the state—which includes promptly investigating and prosecuting perpetrators of violence against religious minorities—if Pakistan is to roll back the damage done by the rise of the far right.”

Author: K.M. Rizvi

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