Lahore in Pakistan was the scene of a great tragedy on Easter Sunday as at least 70 Christian families celebrating the festival in a public park were killed by a Taliban breakaway group.
Pakistani police say they expect more deaths from over 300 children, women and men who were injured in the suicide bombing at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, which has been claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar.
It marks the deadliest in an increasing number of attacks on Pakistani Christians – the second-largest minority group after Hindus – following the killing of more than 80 people in a Peshawar church three years ago, and attacks on Christians in other cities such as Karachi, Punjab and Faisalabad.
The country’s authorities were quick to condemn the attack, with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressing his “grief and sorrow over the sad demise of innocent lives” and postponing a trip to the UK. The regional government also announced three days of mourning for victims.
Yet while these actions are commendable, they are no solution to stopping attacks on Christians. The first thing Pakistan must do is to end its support to all types of militancy, whether directed against its neighbours or otherwise.
Metro Éireann also believes that Pakistan must end its controversial blasphemy laws, which have been cited in many attacks across a country that is becoming ever more radicalised by Islamic extremists.
Also important is the need for public awareness and education about diversity and tolerance, which have been repeatedly rejected in Pakistan over the last few decades. Metro Éireann calls on Prime Minister Sharif to strengthen anti-discrimination and hate crime legislation if Pakistan is ever to become a tolerant and stable society.