Pakistan’s Christian community has faced the brunt of some of the worst terrorist attacks in the country in recent years, but now the community fears another looming danger.
During the last few months, the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, or Daesh, has claimed responsibility for two deadly attacks on the Christian community in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan.
In Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan, a Christian family was attacked on April 2, a day after Easter.
Gunmen killed four people, all members of one Christian family.
In December 2017, several days before Christmas, suicide bombers attacked a Christian church, killing at least nine people in the southwestern city of Quetta.
IS claimed responsibility for both attacks.
Nadeem Anthony, a Christian rights activist, told VOA that IS has become a new danger for the community.
“The Christian community is scared and concerned after [the] deadly attacks by Daesh. It is not acceptable,” Anthony noted. “If Daesh is active and involved in the attacks on the Christian community, then we (Christians) can’t do anything against this militant outfit. It’s the responsibility of the state to act against such a group.”
Pakistan denies the organized presence of IS in the country and said the state is committed to cracking down on all militant groups that threaten any community or sect.
But some quarters have expressed concern that IS is emerging as a threat.
Dr. Mehdi Hassan, chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), said IS's presence cannot be completely denied.
“Attacks on the Christian community by Daesh is really a matter of concern, and this will worsen [the] religious extremism situation in Pakistan. In a country where extremism exists in so many forms, any outfit (including Daesh) can triumph,” Hassan said.
Tariq Christopher Qaiser belongs to the Christian community and is a parliamentarian from Pakistan’s ruling Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) political party. He expressed serious concerns about the increasing number of targeted attacks on different Muslim sects and on Christians.
“It’s not only alarming but also shameful," Qaiser said. It is the responsibility of the state to protect all its nationals without any discrimination as to from which sect of religion they belong to. I have been raising my voice on the floor of the parliament and will continue to do so.”
This story was written by Muhammad Ishtiaq.