Pakistan: Islamic State Targets Christians in Quetta

Source: http://rlprayerbulletin.blogspot.com

Date:  April 18, 2018

by Elizabeth Kendal 

Christians comprise less than two percent of Pakistan's 200 million people. 
Systematic racial and religious discrimination ensure Christians remain poor, 
powerless and persecuted. However, as fundamentalist Islam rises, Islamic 
jihad spreads and lawlessness deepens, Christian vulnerability and insecurity 
approach crisis levels. In recent months, Islamic State's franchise in 
'Khorasan Province' (Afghanistan and surrounds) has claimed responsibility 
for three deadly attacks targeting Christians in Quetta, the capital of 
Pakistan's sparsely populated Balochistan Province. On Sunday 17 December at 
least nine people were killed and more than 50 injured when two suicide 
bombers blew themselves up at Bethel Memorial Methodist Church. Islamic State 
Khorasan Province (ISK-P) claimed responsibility [see RLPB 437 (19 Dec 
2017)].   

On Easter Monday evening 2 April four members of a Christian family were 
travelling along Quetta's Shah Zaman road when militants on a motorbike 
intercepted their rickshaw and opened fire. A young girl was wounded; she was 
rushed to hospital. Her father and three male cousins were killed. Tariq 
Masih, a relative of the victims said, 'They were guests of ours, they came 
from Punjab [Province] to celebrate Easter. As they left the house to go to 
the bazaar after dinner ... they were fired upon.' Provincial police have 
labelled it 'a targeted attack' and 'an act of terrorism'. ISK-P claimed 
responsibility, boasting that a 'covert unit' of ISK-P shot the Christians 
'which resulted in the killing of four of them, and all praise is due to 
Allah'.  

On Sunday 15 April four men on two motorbikes opened fire on Christians in 
Quetta's Isa Nagri (City of Jesus, a Christian neighbourhood). Some of the 
victims were emerging from a worship service; others were just sitting in 
front of their homes. The victims were rushed to Bolan Medical Complex, 
Quetta. Azhar Iqbal (26) died at the scene while Rahib Khalid (16) died at 
the hospital. Two young girls - Mehvish William (13) and Sunaina Shakil (11) 
- were wounded, as was Chaudhry Samuel (38), a prominent figure in Isa Nagri. 
According to a doctor, all the victims received multiple bullet wounds. 
Around 500 Christians filled the streets and demanded the government improve 
security. Amjad Faryad, an uncle of slain Rashid Khalid, gave voice to 
Christian fears: 'Why are we coming under attack?' he asked. 'Terrorists are 
freely attacking us but security forces and the provincial government are 
playing the role of silent spectator.' Once again, ISK-P claimed 
responsibility.  

ISK-P was officially launched in January 2015. The Pakistan Army rejects 
ISK-P's claims of responsibility and continues to insist that ISK-P does not 
have a presence in Balochistan. Similarly, the US rejects Russia's assertion 
that the growth of ISK-P in Afghanistan is 'rather serious', and has 
criticised Russia's efforts to foster security co-operation in the region. 
Yet, according to a report in Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor (26 
January 2018), 'Wilayat-e-Khorasan, the Islamic State (IS) affiliate in the 
borderlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan, is one of the terrorist group's 
strongest franchises. Bolstered by defections from the Taliban and boosted 
further in recent months by an influx of foreign fighters fleeing defeat in 
Iraq and Syria, IS Khorasan Province (ISK-P) is growing in strength and 
influence.' Pakistan's Christians, especially those in Quetta, would surely 
agree with the Russian assessment that this is indeed 'rather serious'.  


PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:

* protect, comfort, encourage and sustain Pakistan's long-persecuted and 
increasingly imperilled Christian community, especially the Christians of 
Quetta who are this day grieving the loss of fellow-believers, neighbours and 
loved ones. 'But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter 
of my head.' (Psalm 3:3 ESV)  

* raise up leaders - men and women of vision, integrity, justice, courage and 
strength; in civil society, media and politics (domestic and international) - 
who will be God's instruments in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  (See Isaiah 
45:1-7, regarding God's anointing of Cyrus, King of Persia, to be God's 
instrument, though he knew it not.)  

* intervene in Afghanistan and Pakistan at the grassroots level; may the 
Spirit of God move to  open eyes, unstop ears and soften hearts so that evil 
will be recognised and rejected, and so the Gospel of grace will be seen, 
heard and received.

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