KARACHI, Oct 28: Various religious and political parties have condemned the killing of Christians in Bahawalpur.

Terming the killings a heinous conspiracy of forces inimical to Pakistan and Islam, they said no Muslim can resort to such an act as Islam is a religion of peace, and killing of innocent people is against the very spirit of the faith.

According to them, the Indian intelligence agency, RAW, appeared to be behind the carnage.

The Vice President of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (F), Sindh, Maulana Abdul Karim Abid, described the tragedy as “a conspiracy masterminded by the US and aimed at pitting Muslims against each other.”

“We consider this attack also an act of terrorism in which no Pakistani Muslim can be involved,” he said adding that his party would take along with it all the minorities from the platform of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Defence Council to foil all such conspiracies.

The Jamaat-i-Islami said anti-state elements and agents from cross the border were responsible for the killings.

Prof Ghafoor Ahmed, deputy chief of the Jamaat expressed deep anguish and sorrow over the loos of life, and said it was a heinous conspiracy against Pakistan. He recalled that Christians and other minorities had been living in the country with honour and peace. The minorities in Pakistan were in no way responsible for the killing of Muslims abroad, he added.

Syed Munawwar Hasan, the JI Secretary-General, and Mairaj-ul-Huda, JI Karachi chief, also condemned the killings in Bahawalpur.

The chief of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan, Allama Shah Ahmad Noorani, said Islam has made it duty for the faithful to provide protection to the places of worships of minorities.

Deploring the failure of intelligence agencies in its most important duty of checking terrorist activities, he said Muslims living abroad would have to bear the backlash of such acts.

The Pakistan Minority Inqalabi Tehreek (PMIT) also condemned the Bahawalpur killings. In a statement, PMIT Chairman Salim Khurshid Khokhar condemned the tragedy, and said Christians in Pakistan always bore the brunt of misadventures by foreign countries.

Pakistani Christians have always been loyal to Pakistan, and they also played an important role in the creation of Pakistan, he added.

He claimed that the government had been cautioned about the possibility of attacks on Christians by certain elements, but it failed to heed the warning. He criticized the government for its failure to provide security to Christians.

The chief of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Altaf Husain, termed the tragedy an act of “open terrorism,” and said the killing of innocent people in any part of the world, irrespective of religion, colour and nationality, was highly deplorable.

Mr Husain, in a statement faxed from London, said those who were using the name of Islam, while working against its teachings, were not sincere either to Islam or to Muslims. They were using the name of Islam to serve their own narrow interests, he claimed.

Reiterating an appeal he made recently, he said the United States and the international community should take utmost caution in the military action against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan to ensure that innocent civilians were not harmed.

The Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf Secretary-General, Mairaj Mohammed Khan, demanded of the government to take prompt and effective action to bring the culprits to book. He also demanded a crackdown on terrorists under a planned policy, saying otherwise Pakistan would be isolated from the international community.

He said it was time that terrorism was rooted out of the country, and to reassure the minorities that as Pakistanis they enjoyed equal rights and protection as other Pakistanis.

The Central Information Secretary of the Pakistan People’s Party, Taj Haider, held different military governments responsible for the ugly act, saying “their policy of patronizing religious extremism has resulted in such a situation.”

He also criticized the present dual policy of facilitating US air attacks on Afghanistan and allowing armed tribal Lashkars (armies) to enter Afghanistan to block the emergence of progressive and democratic forces there.

“Islam is a religion of peace, but extremist elements are bringing a bad name to it,” he regretted.

A leader of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement, Iqbal Qureshi, speaking at a press conference held Indian and Israeli intelligence agencies responsible for the carnage.

He recalled that terrorism against religious minorities was unknown in Pakistan and never before any religious minority was targeted like this.

The Central Information Secretary of the National People’s Party, Zia Abbas, said no one but the Indian RAW had a hand in this tragedy, and their aim was to give a bad name to Pakistan. He pointed out that India had been propagating against Pakistan since Sept 11 because Pakistan had been siding with the world community in its action against international terrorism.

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