Pakistani rights body questions talks with Taliban
Lahore: Condemning the suicide attack on a church in Peshawar that killed 81 people, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Monday asked the government to explain how talks with the Taliban will address challenges facing the country.
The HRCP described yesterday`s attack on the church, which was claimed by a Taliban faction, as "inhuman and an affront to the values to uphold which Pakistan was established".
The rights watchdog called on the government to share with the people its strategy to overcome "ongoing faith-based and militant-orchestrated attacks on citizens across the country".
It asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif`s government to explain how holding talks with the Taliban will address the "challenges that haunt Pakistan today".
"How will such talks help rein in the multiple other actors engaged in a bloody movement by extremist militants at the domestic level?" HRCP said in a statement.
Over 120 people were also injured when two suicide bombers blew themselves outside the historic church in Peshawar, the capital of the restive Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
Sharif has been pushing plans for talks with the Taliban but he too said yesterday`s attack could affect the process.
HRCP said the suicide bombing and similar attacks in the past were symptomatic of a deeper malady. Amid the militants onslaught, the new government was yet to share "its vision and strategy for dealing with the problem of militancy in the name of religion", it said.
The organisation asked the government to take steps to reassure non-Muslim citizens that authorities have the will and ability to protect their lives and religious freedoms.
It further said: "HRCP is sickened by the brutal attack on the churchgoers in Peshawar...The massacre of Christian citizens is an affront to the values that Jinnah?s Pakistan must stand for...And a damning indictment of the state for its failure to protect its citizens, especially those from religious minorities, and their religious freedoms."
HRCP added, "Unfortunately, it would be inaccurate to say that the targeting of a religious minority came as a surprise, because as long as the masterminds of countless previous killings and their blood thirsty progeny enjoy impunity, no amount of brutality and callousness should surprise us."
The attack on the church was aimed at destabilising the state and the government must take proactive and pre-emptive measures to prevent such massacres, HRCP said.
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