Top Commission officials issue a joint statement. The suicide attack killed 13 people, including two policemen. A prayer and candlelight vigil was held at the cathedral. The NCJP calls on the government to enforce the National Action Plan against terrorism and provide security forces with the right equipment.
Lahore (AsiaNews) - The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan has strongly condemned last Monday’s attack in Lahore that killed 13 people, including two policemen, and wounded 85.
In a joint statement, NCJP President Mgr Joseph Arshad, NCJP National Director Fr Emmanuel Yousaf, and NCJP Executive Director S. Cecil Chaudhry state that "the killing of innocent protesters and security officials is unacceptable."
In extending their condolences to the victims, they paid “their respects to the slain officers and prayed for their families and the injured.”
The leaders of the Catholic Church noted that once again Punjab’s provincial capital was brutally attacked by extremists.
The suicide attack took place in front of the Punjab Provincial Assembly when a protest by some 400 pharmacists was underway.
Islamist group Jamat-ul-Ahrar, a faction of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attack.
The extremist group warned that it would continue to target government offices in retaliation for the latter’s crackdown on terrorism.
The NCJP and the diocese of Faisalabad organised a candlelight and prayer vigil at Lahore Cathedral to show solidarity to the martyrs and closeness to their families.
Priests, nuns, students, teachers, and many civil and political figures took part in the event. Participants asked the government to take decisive action against terrorists and to ensure that the rule of law is respected in the country.
The NCJP urged the government to "bring to justice the perpetrators of the act, investigate the origin of extremist intolerance, and strengthen the measures to protect all citizens."
Despite warnings of possible attacks, "the government has failed,” the NCJP said. “As a Commission, we demand the implementation of the National Action Plan*. This must be a top priority if the government wants to eradicate terrorism and extremism from the country."
Finally, the NCJP statement ends saying that the government "must provide adequate equipment to law enforcement personnel to perform their risky and courageous task of defusing explosive devices around the country."
* The National Action Plan was adopted in 2015 after a Taleban attack against a military school in Peshawar.