Muslim clerics or Ulema from different schools of thought in Pakistan on Monday condemned the killing of dozens of Christians in twin bomb blasts that ripped through a church in the northern city of Peshawar. They issued Fatwas (religious decrees), declaring such acts of violence against innocent minorities as ‘un-Islamic’.
While the Fatwa is a positive development for the protection of minorities, it is unfortunate that things in Pakistan have reached to a point where the murder of human beings has to be prohibited through a religious proclamation.
Two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the 130-year-old All Saints Church in the capital city of the militancy-hit province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) after Sunday mass. At least 80 people lost their lives and more than 100 others were left injured in what is being called the deadliest attack on Christians in the history of Pakistan, a predominantly Muslim country.
Jundullah, a notorious militant outfit, claimed responsibility within hours of the attack. Initially, the group was confused with the terrorist organization Tehreek-e-Taliban’s (TTP) offshoot - Jundul Hafsa. Two days after the attack, TTP denied any links with Jundullah and/or involvement in the devastating church blasts.
Meanwhile, the Ulema condemned the attack, adding that such atrocities were against the teachings of Islam. “We believe that the attack on the church was a conspiracy against Islam and Pakistan,” they told Pakistani newspaper DAWN.
On September 10, Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan announced that politicians and the military leadership unanimously agreed to hold peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban “in the best national interest”. The policy was widely criticized and following the Peshawar blasts on Sunday, the opposition to negotiations with the Taliban grew even stronger.
Pakistanis do not support dialogue with militant organizations that continue to carry out attacks on innocent citizens civilians. While the TTP has distanced itself from the church blasts, the militant group is known to have carried out deadly assaults against minorities including Muslim sects such as Shiites, Sufis and Ahmadis in the past.
Those who are saying Peshawar attack was done to sabotage the talks with the Taliban forget that they have no qualms killing minorities— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) September 23, 2013
Too tired to argue with dimwits still defending peace talks with Taliban. Keep having them. Watch them fail each time. Just please fuck off.— Sami Shah (@samishah) September 23, 2013
After today the Pak government would be insanely stupid to even consider peace talks with the Pak Taliban. Obliterate and crush them.— Shaan-e-Ali Mehdi ?? (@Shaanistan) September 23, 2013
Rioting and protestsbroke out in several cities of Pakistan including Peshawar, Islamabad and Karachi. Members of the Christian community and their supporters demanded the government to reconsider its decision to hold peace talks with terrorist groups and called for greater security measures for minorities. They also criticized Imran Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), the governing political party of Khyber Pakthunkhwa. He is believed to be Taliban sympathizer and protesters slammed the PTI leader for not backing out of negotiations with the TTP.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday warned that he might abandon plans to hold political dialogue with Taliban after the Peshawar blasts.
“It’s a national tragedy. No sane person can condone such barbarism. Everyone, no matter what his religion or creed is, will be saddened by this. This is the work of the enemies of Pakistan,” he said.
However, now that the Taliban have denied involvement in the incident, Sharif might reconsider his statement as he has supported negotiations with the TTP.
With a growing anti-extremist sentiment amid Pakistanis, all eyes will now be on the government and whether it chooses to return to the negotiating table with the militant organization.