KARACHI: Drone attacks trigger attacks on the Christians in Pakistan says a Pakistan Bishop.
In the midst of fresh bloodshed of Christians in Pakistan, a prominent Pakistani bishop says that,” The attacks are deeply rooted in the political situation of the country and how it relates to both the West and surrounding areas.”
Bishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi says,” The terrorist bombing in late September of a Church in Peshawar, which killed nearly 100 people, was an act of retaliation against the U.S. military’s lethal attacks in the region with Predator and Reaper drones. He asserts, “The group that claimed responsibility for the attack on Christians, stated that it was done because the Americans are using drone attacks, and unless the Americans stop the drone attacks, they will continue to attack more Churches.”
While reflecting on the Peshawar Church attack carried out by the Pakistani Taliban, Bishop Coutts said that,” The situation is dangerous, because there is a perception here that the whole West — Europe or America — are all Christians.”
Expressly he said,” They believe that Christians are attacking the Muslim countries: Iraq, now Afghanistan. And so you are Pakistani Christians. We are not immigrants. The perception is that if they attack the Christians, Americans will stop the drone attacks. It’s not just a local problem. It has drawn us into global politics. It is something much wider.”
“This threat is not coming from just any group,” the bishop said. “It’s coming from a very powerful extremist group that has already been causing problems and is causing problems to our government,” he stressed.
Bishop Coutts upheld,” Pakistani Taliban is a prominent militant group that has moreover attacked both military bases as well as the police and is strong enough to challenge the government. They are a threat to the whole of society, not just the Christians.”
He further clarified that,” Christians in the country, including both Catholics and non-Catholics, total about “2.5% of the population. Pakistan is an Islamic country, where he said roughly “95%-96%” of the population is Muslim, with other religious minorities making up the rest. According to our constitution, we have religious freedom and if you come to Pakistan, you will see many Churches. However, in recent years, we have been facing and experiencing intolerance to such an extent that it has reached the point we are being attacked.”
“There are a number of factors that have contributed to this, stressing that the first is the ongoing war in Pakistan’s neighbouring country, Afghanistan, which is a “100% Muslim country First was the fight against the Soviet Union with the United States, and Saudi Arabia helped our government; and then the Taliban developed to fight against the Soviets. But now what is happening is we have our own brand of Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban,” he stated.
Bishop Coutts added, “In previous years Pakistan identified the Taliban only with those who fought within Afghanistan for the freedom of the country, but that, now, a “Pakistani Taliban” has developed that wants “to make Pakistan a purely Islamic state. Although the country is primarily Muslim, it is “at the moment a democratic country,” with a newly elected government, and that extremist Islamic groups “are not the majority at all.”
“Nonetheless, although the radical groups are a small minority, they “are very strong because of the methods they use. They use the methods of violence and even suicide bombing, which is, a new phenomenon in Pakistan. They do not believe in democracy. They want an Islamic state. They want all Islamic laws,” he went on to say.
Bishop Coutts summarized , “So that is the basic struggle at the moment, the background to understand how a small minority like the Christians or the Hindus are suffering within that overall new form of Islam: a militant, violent form of Islam promoting jihad or holy war.”