MANDI BAHAUDDIN/TOBA TEK SINGH/JHANG/BUREWALA/SARGODHA/SIALKOT/ SHEIKHUPURA/ HAFIZABAD/MUZAFFARGARH/ HAFIZABAD

Thousands of Christians took out rallies and staged protests in all major cities and towns of Punjab against the Sunday’s twin suicide attacks in a church in Peshawar in which 83 people lost their lives and over 100 sustained injuries.

In Mandi Bahauddin, the Christian community took out a protest rally and chanted slogans against the terrorists. They burnt tyres and blocked the main roads. Addressing the rally, Christian community leader Saoil Saim said Pakistan came into being after the joint efforts of both Muslims and Christians communities with a vision that minorities would enjoy equal rights. He lamented that the minorities are being treated as the second class citizens in Pakistan, which is against the very spirit and slogan raised at the time of its creation in 1947.

He said their basic rights are being trampled by some mischievous elements and the government has failed to provide them protection as envisaged in the Constitution. He demanded the government to take special measures aimed at protecting lives and properties of the communities living in Pakistan.

Similarly, scores of lawyers observed strike and boycotted courts to mourn the Peshawar incident. In a condolence meeting, they condemned the killing of innocent Christians in church and expressed their solidarity with the victim families.

Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Society Mandi Bahauddin chapter held a meeting to condemn the deadly incident. Speaking at the occasion, general secretary Abdul Ghani said the government has failed to rein in the terrorist who have disturbed the social fabric of the country.

Expressing solidarity with the bereaved families, he demanded the government to take action against the terrorists involved in the twin suicide attacks. The meeting held a collective prayer for the eternal peace for the deceased and speedy recovery of the injured. Other segments of the society also condemned the incident and expressed their sympathies with heirs of the deceased.

In Toba Tek Singh, the Christian community people continued their protest on second consecutive day against the Peshawar incident. In Gojra, the Christians took out a rally from Catholic Church and reached outside the TMA Complex. They were holding banners and chanting slogans against the government for not providing them adequate security. Police took into custody eight Christians who pelted stones on a bus and broke its glasses. Police also baton charged the protesters to disperse them.

Protest rallies were also taken out in Pir Mahal and Kamalia. Similarly in Jhang, a joint protest rally, organised by different NGOs, social welfare organisations and Anjuman-e-Tajiran, was taken out. A large number of people participated in the rally. The rally started from Ayub Chowk and marching from Session Chowk and Fawara Chowk reached outside the Press Club. The rally participants staged a sit-in outside the Press Club.

The speakers blamed that the attack on Church is a conspiracy to fail government-Taliban dialogues process. They said some anti-state elements wanted to destroy peace of the society. But the people of Pakistan are united and would face every difficult situation, they added.

In Burewala, the Christian community staged a protest against the tragic incident. Under aegis of All Pakistan Minority Alliance, scores of protesters took out a rally from Catholic Church Yaqubabad and reached outside the Press Club where the participants staged a sit in. The representative of the Christian community strongly condemned the incident and expressed solidarity with the victim families. They also demanded the government to ensure steps for protecting minorities. The local police had taken stringent security measures as demonstrators later dispersed peacefully.

In Sargodha, the protest against the Peshawar tragedy continued on the second day. Scores of protesters gathered on the Sargodha-Khushab Road and chanted slogans. They blocked the road for all kind of traffic. Meanwhile, District Bar Association also observed strike and boycotted the courts against the Peshawar suicide attacks.

Hundreds of Christians took out rallies in Sialkot city, Ugoki, Sambrial, Daska, Pasrur, Badiana, Chawinda and surrounding areas, lodging their strong protest against the brutal killings of innocent Christians in Peshawar. They were carrying banners and chanting anti-terrorism slogans, demanding stern action against the terrorists. The protesters also kept the traffic blocked for three hours on the main Sialkot-Sambrial-Wazirabad Road near Sahowala Canal Bridge and China Chowk and Main Daska-Sialkot Road.

In Sheikhupura, the Christian community took out a protesting rally in front of the Press Club against the Peshawar carnage. The Christian leaders condemned the incident and demanded the federal and KPK governments to arrest the miscreants as soon as possible and provide security to all the minorities in the country.

In Hafizabad, Sukheke, Pindi Bhattian and other towns, protest rallies were taken out to condemn the Peshawar bloodbath. Led by Father Joseph Shahzad, Padri Suleman, ex-member District Council Qamar Javed, the protesters marched on various roads. They demanded an immediate arrest of the accused and security for the minority people.

Meanwhile, PPP general secretary M Arshad Mehind and different political and religious organisations also expressed their solidarity with the Christians and demanded a merciless crackdown on the extremists. In Muzaffargarh, the Christian community and civil society organisations observed a day of mourning and took to the streets against the incident. The main protest was staged AT Qanwan Chowk in which SEAP Pakistan, Civil Society Organisation, scores of students of missionary schools and minority wings of the PPP and PML-N participated. The protesters were carrying placards, cross and flags and chanting slogans for justice.

In Kot Addu, a large number of women and children took part in the protest.  They demanded the federal as well as provincial government of KPK to improve security for minorities and arrest the culprits involved in the tragic incident. The Pakistan Christian Democratic Party also staged a demonstration. A large number of human rights activists as well as Christian community members participated in the protest and chanted slogans against terrorism. They strongly condemned the terror attack on minorities.

PML-N leader Shahida Naeem Dasti, MPA Hamad Nawaz Tippu, MNA Malik Sultan Mehmood Huinjra, MPA Malik Ahmed Yar Hinjra and other notables expressed their grief and sorrow over the heinous incident.  Meanwhile, in HAFIZABAD, the Christian community in Sukheke, Pindi Bhattian and other towns took out rallies against the bloodbath by suicide bombers in a Church in Peshawar on Sunday.

Led by Father Joseph Shahzad, Padri Suleman and former member District Council Qamar Javed, the protesters paraded the main thoroughfares, raising slogans against the terrorists who killed more than 80 persons who were offering Sunday prayers in the church. They demanded immediate arrest of the accused and provide them deterrent punishment.

The staged sit-in demonstration at Fawar Chowk and blocked the traffic for some time. Similarly, member of the Christian community of Sukheke also took to streets in Kot Nihal and staged sit-in Lahore-Sargodha Road and blocked the road for half an hour by burning tyres. They chanted vociferous slogans against the terrorists and called upon the government to take appropriate measures to prevent the recurrence of such mayhem particularly in places of worships. Meanwhile, PPP General Secretary Muhammad Arshad Mehind and different political and religious organizations have also expressed their solidarity with the Christians and demanded merciless crackdown on the extremists.