By BosNewsLife Asia Service
LAHORE, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)-- Pakistani Christian lawyers on Friday, September 27, demanded a government-led military crackdown on those responsible for Sunday's suicide attack at a church in north-west Pakistan and other militants.
"Our state and our intelligence agencies are so weak that anybody can kill anyone anytime. It is a shame," said Sardar Mushtaq Gill, the national director of the Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD) group.
Gill, who is himself in hiding after threats from militants, told BosNewsLife that the lawyers gathered for a protest at the Press Club Lahore to demand an effective "army operation against the Taliban" militants and "a judicial probe" into the blasts at All Saints Church in Peshawar city, which left more than 80 people dead.
He warned that "anti-Christian religious extremists" were involved in the suicide bombings to "destabilize" churches and the country.
Two Taliban-linked groups, Jandullah and the Junood ul-Hifsa, have claimed responsibility for what was the deadliest attack against churches in years, saying Christians are "enemies of Islam" and warning of more "attacks on non-Muslims on Pakistani land."
Christians comprise less than three percent of the population in the South Asian nation of 193 million, according to LEAD estimates.
Some Islamic religious groups have made clear they want Pakistan to become a 100 percent-Muslim. Militants plan to declare the country "the fortress of Islam so that's why they wish to kill Christians of Pakistan and attack them," LEAD said in a statement.
"Such cruel acts of terrorism reflect the brutality and inhumane mindset of the religious extremists. Such mindset creates among Christians who are leaving the country," Gill added.
LEAD said Christians demonstrated in cities around Pakistan "to protest against the violence and demand better protection from the authorities."
The group suggested that Pakistan's controversial blasphemy legislation and television programs have added to tensions.
"In Pakistan every Muslim has the right to say anything about another religion and its books or faith, but if a Christian or any other non-Muslim will say something against Islam or the Koran they are punishable under anti-blasphemy laws and other Islamic legislation," LEAD explained.
It also cited secular Pakistani television channels where Muslim leaders and others are openly attacking the Christian faith or Bible, without prosecution.
In this climate, LEAD said, Christians will face more threats and killings.
The bombings have raised new questions about the Pakistani government’s push to strike a peace deal with the militants to end a decade-long insurgency that has killed thousands of people.
"What dialogue are we talking about? Peace with those who are killing innocent people," wondered the head of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, Paul Bhatti, whose brother, a federal minister, was gunned down by an Islamic militant in 2011.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is 'Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals' since 2004).