WASHINGTON: The United States strongly condemned on Monday the latest attack near two churches in Lahore and reiterated its offer to help Pakistan deal with militancy.
Leaders of the Pakistani Christian community in the United States also condemned the attack and urged the government to provide complete protection to all places of worship in the country, particularly those of religious minorities.
“We strongly condemn Sunday’s attack on innocent people at two churches in Lahore, and we extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims,” US State Department’s spokesperson Jen Psaki said at a briefing in Washington.
She said the United States “stands in solidarity with the people and government of Pakistan” in confronting this type of extremist violence.
“We support the right of every person to practise religion without fear of intimidation, death, coercion or any form of reprisal,” she said. “This is a basic human right both in Pakistan and throughout the world”.
Anjum Bhatti, a Pakistani Christian leader in the United States, said that the extremists had been targeting churches across Pakistan for more than a decade and yet the government had not taken any concrete step to protect them. “Blood mixes with religion in mosques and churches of Pakistan,” observed another Pakistani Christian leader Victor V. Gill.
He stressed the need to educate the majority community on international human rights, particularly on the freedom to worship.
Pakistan Christians in the United States are planning to hold a large demonstration in the US capital to highlight the sufferings of religious minorities in the country of their origin.
“Unless they accept that as Pakistani citizens the minorities have equal rights, things will not change,” Mr Bhatti said.
Published in Dawn March 17th , 2015