By Ayesha Noor
On September 22, 2013 the Taliban killed 85 Christian worshippers during a well-planned suicide attack in a Peshawar Church. On May 28, 2010, the Taliban killed nearly 86 Ahmadi worshippers in two highly organized and well-coordinated suicide attacks on two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore. The church attack took place when Christians were engaged in prayers during Sunday service. The Ahmadi mosques attack occurred when Ahmadis were engaged in Friday prayers on, well, a Friday afternoon.
Everything is common in these attacks. Despite demanding security several times, the provincial governments gave cold responses to both communities. Both attacks were done in the name of Islam i.e. to wipe infidels from the face of the Earth. And both attacks stained the white part of the Pakistani flag bright red.
However, the tale of two attacks took opposite angles once the news of the attacks spread. While reporting the Ahmadi mosques attack, media first used terms such as martyrdom, Namazis (Muslim worshippers) and mosques. Upon realizing or being bashed by their bosses who were scolded by their religious leaders, young reporters quickly backtracked to killing, worshippers, and places of worship. However, the attack on the Church made reporters’ life easier as martyrdom was out of question, this time the victims were clearly not even Muslims.
Next, the Pakistani government issued a mild condemnation several hours after the attacks on Ahmadi mosques. Apart from Governor Salman Taseer, hardly anyone visited the affected families. Meanwhile,right after the attack on Christians there was a race among politicians on who-is-the-first-to-visit-the-injured.
Likewise, the Church attacks compelled the government to announce a 3-day-mourning period. The attack on Ahmadi mosques, meanwhile, did not wake the government from its slumber. Instead, Mullahs celebrated by distributing sweets.
Again, Ahmadi victims and the injured received no help from the government in transporting dead bodies or in providing quick medical care. After the Christian attack, the federal government offered helicopters to transport the injured to hospitals in Islamabad.
In the aftermath of Church attack, media put together documentaries demonstrating Christian contributions to Pakistan. Roughly 80 percent of Pakistanis heard the names of Cecil Chaudhry and Justice Alvin Robert Cornelius for the first time in their entire lives. In the aftermath of Lahore attacks, pseudo religio-political analysts concealed all the services of Sir Zafrullah Khan, the first foreign Minister of Pakistan and the first Pakistani judge of International Court of Justice. On the contrary, their raised further antagonism against Ahmadis by misrepresenting that Zafrullah Khan did not offer Qaide Azam’s funeral prayer.
When a private news channel shamelessly referred to Christians as sweepers, thank God everyone condemned it. Instead, the media discarded using “Christian sweepers” and replaced it with “our Christian brothers.” However, when Nawaz Sharif called Ahmadis his brethren after the Lahore attacks, Ulemas gave him such rough time that he discarded “brothers” and replaced it with an apology for saying such a blasphemous thing.
In short, the Pakistani Government, Ulemas, Politicians, media and public unanimously called the attack on church inhumane, uncalled for, and a shame for Pakistan. Meanwhile, they refused to condemn the attack on Ahmadis while they instead tried to justify it in one way or the other.
The discrimination in condemnation is obvious, while the reasons are unclear. May be they are reacting to nationwide violent protests being carried out by the Christian community. Something that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has and will never resort to. Or may be the international pressure is strong. After all aid from Christian countries is Pakistan’s top import these days. Whatever the reason is, one thing is clear, the Peshawar attack happened because the Pakistani government failed to protect its citizens, just like it failed to protect its Ahmadi citizens in 2010. The Taliban did not fail then, and did not fail now. And sadly, all signs point to a failing government, and successful Taliban when the next attack happens.
Most depressingly, the next terrorist attack won’t be an accident, Pakistan’s government guarantees it.