Pakistani Bishops Decry Government Lethargy

Denounce Taliban Oppression of Religious Minorities

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LAHORE, Pakistan, FEB. 26, 2010 ( The Pakistani bishops’ conference issued a statement decrying the lethargy of government authorities faced to militant Muslim organizations.

The statement, prepared by the conference’s Justice and Peace Commission, was signed by the conference president, Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore.

It condemned the «lethargic attitude on part of the government» that allows the Taliban free reign, Fides reported.

This encourages militant organizations to impose «Jizya,» a tax for being non-Muslim and enables «kidnapping for ransom, target killing and internal displacement in frequency,» it explained.

Thursday, Christians expressed solidarity with the similarity minority Sikh community, when two of its members were kidnapped and beheaded in a Taliban-dominated neighborhood.

The conference noted that these «frequent incidents of violence» and crime pose «grave threats to the life, liberty and property of the members of religious minorities in the country.»

Referring to Thursday’s murders, the archbishop stated that «this was not a solitary incident of brutality against the religious minorities in Pakistan.»

«The federal and provincial governments should treat these incidents as alarm bell and must take stringent measures to control the situation,» he added.

Archbishop Saldanha affirmed: «While the Sikh community has become an easy prey for the militants in the North-West Frontier Province, the Hindu community has faced violent crimes in Sindh and Baluchistan in the past few years. Dozens of Hindus have lost their lives and property to kidnappers.» He added that Christians have also been harassed in many areas.

The statement asserted that «the government should protect the religious minorities as a priority as they happen to be one of the most vulnerable groups to social and organized crimes.»

It also «recommended the repeal of all discriminatory laws to promote tolerance and social harmony.»

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