Slough, UK: On Friday evening 13th July 2018, leaders and representatives of various local Pakistani-background Christian organizations met in the St George’s Church, Slough, to review and discuss the causes of the terrorist incident that killed 21 in the twin suicide attacks that took place in the churches of Yuhannabad, Lahore, on the 15th March 2015. The main objective of the meeting called by Alliance of Pakistan Christian organizations (APCO) was to revisit the events, to analyse its causes and government’s response and to discuss various legal and socio-political ways of supporting the victims of that terrorist action which led to the lamentable loss of many precious lives, over one hundred injured, a huge loss of property, as well a as incalculable grief, anguish and suffering for the effected families and loved ones and, in which, as its aftermath, 42 local Christian men ended up in jails. Unfortunately 2 of them have already died in custody. Christian community has always condemned terrorist activity whenever, and wherever it has happened in Pakistan, and in deed anywhere around the globe, but this particular incident took place on a Sunday when the churches were packed with worshipers, and has left long, and very deep scars on the community as a whole.
Five well-established organizations participated in the event: Pakistan Christian Organization (PCO), represented by Kishan Bennett; International Christian Council (ICC), represented by Advocate Qamar Shams and Naeem Waiz; Pakistan Minorities Rights Organization (PMRO), by Asif Mall; Midlands Christian Organization (MCO), by Pastors Thomas Bhatti and Samuel Yousaf; and Pakistan Christian Press Club (PCPC) by Akhtar Injeeli. Ms Aster Khokhar served as the master of ceremonies. Other important community leaders in attendance were Mr Saleem Mattu, Roy Emmanuel, Baxter Bhatti, himself a seasoned political leader from the Sindh Province of Pakistan and others.
Various speakers emphasized their love for Pakistan and expressed their desire to see peace and prosperity to flourish in their motherland. However, the fact that unpalatable and unsocial elements, like terrorists, operate in Pakistan is a grim reality. The speakers offered their thoughts about how Christian Diaspora can help bring peace and stability in Pakistan, and how legal, financial, socio-political and moral aid can be provided to the Christian men languishing in jails as a result of the arrests which took place over three years. None of these arrested were involved in the original terrorist activity, but were arrested due the reactions they showed at the spur of the moment, in the heat of the events which complicated matters in the immediate aftermath of the events. Their trial continues.
During the meeting references were made to the amazing success of Zerb-e Azb operation by Pak Army in their fight against terrorists. As a way forward, the speakers, from ICCI, PCPC and PMRO agreed that a multi-pronged approach is needed in which we try to find ways of providing legal and moral support to the effected members of our community in Yuhannabad. PCPC representative highlighted the positive role that media can play in promoting peace and brotherhood in Pakistan. He also stated that writing down events accurately and in timely fashion so that nothing is lost to the posterity is of utmost importance, and that this is the role that PCPC is trying fulfil by various journalistic activities. Members of PCPC have be engaged in column writing (Mr Samson Javed, Mrs Shamim David), TV broadcasts (Dr Peter David, Rev John Basco), Social Media activism (Prof. Emmanuel Rafael, Taskeen Khan, Naeem Waiz), and various other media activities to spread their message. Laudable mention was also made of various other NGOs working on ground in Pakistan, like Social Justice (Mr Peter Jacob), CLASS (Mr Joseph Francis) and others. In regards to keep an accurate and timely record of events, Dr Prudent Injeeli’s book, Baptized in Blood and Fire: the untold story of persecution of the Minorities in Pakistan was mentioned. This is a work of passionate patriotism but also of honest journalistic analysis.
The meeting ended with prayers for Pakistan and for all its communities and including those affected directly by terroristic activities, like Yuhannabad.
To read this article directly on the Ausaf e-news edition click: http://epaper.dailyausaf.com/page?station_id=5&date=2018-07-16&page_id=5...
To read its Urdu sister column by Samson Javed also in e-news edition click: http://epaper.dailyausaf.com/page?station_id=5&page_id=55516&date=2018-0...
© Akhtar Injeeli 16/07/2018