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Christian leaders in Pakistan have been warned not to support the Government in a video produced by the Taliban, or they will become a target for terrorism.
Religious leaders of other minority groups have also been named within the stark warning which comes only days after a series of bomb attacks in Pakistan, including one at the Punjab Assembly, whose death toll rose to 14 victims.
Jamat-e-ahrar have declared in a video that Christian, Sikh, and Muslim places of worship are not Taliban targets as long as they keep their distance from the government.
Asia News stated:
'In a video, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which claimed responsibility for the attack against the pharmacists protest, warned that, "Churches, (Hindu) temples, gurdawaras (Sikh temples) and all the religious places of non-Muslims are not included in our targets until and unless these places are used by our enemies," They have clearly labelled the Government of Pakistan and the military are their enemy and this new focus is a move away from the softer targets of schools and religious buildings that have been by the terrorists in recent years.
In a video the group announced the launch of "Operation Ghazi” against all those who “promote themselves as the contenders of Nabuwat (prophethood) and those people who are involved in the blasphemy regarding the prophet”. The reference here is to Ahmadis, a Muslim community deemed heretical.
For Archbishop Joseph Coutts, head of the Catholic Church in Pakistan, it is hard to understand the Taliban. "It depends on what they think, how they in interpret the enemy and link things. They are very slippery like a snake in the grass.”
“They can make anything out of a visiting army officer in a Church or a police guard on duty during Sunday Mass. It is a different kind of guerrilla warfare and we have to learn to protect ourselves.”
A copy of their article can be read by clicking (here)
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:
"This new approach by Taliban splinter group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar is simply designed to create schism between the Government of Pakistan and it's people. The message may also simply be an extremely poor ruse to reduce the high levels of security at Christian establishments.
"The video message provides no safeguards for minorities just a promise of targeting should they help Government institutions eradicate the evil ideology of the Taliban.
"Panic is consuming Christians in Pakistan after a number of recent bombings in public spaces suggest that another attack targeting Christians could be imminent. Four terrorists attacks targeting Christians in four years is evidence enough that despite what the Taliban has stated in the video, Christians are anathema to the extremist group.
"The Government of Pakistan must fulfill it's duty and ensure churches and Christian schools are protected from any further attack as part of an ongoing protection programme. To redirect forces protecting Minorities on the basis of this video will only serve to play into the hands of some very warped minds."