Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

British campaigners call for end to "CONNIVANCE" between militants and Pakistani govt

A former British Labour Party minister claims there is "some kind of connivance" between the Pakistani government and the perpetrators of the deadly bombing of a Church in Peshawar that left more than 80 people dead last weekend.

Speaking to the UKAsian during a protest in London, Peter Tatchell, founder of the rights group the Peter Tatchell Foundation and former MP for Bermondsey, said the attack on Sunday is a continuation of the often brutal oppression of minorities in Pakistan.

"The bombing is symptomatic of a much wider persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan.  Not just Christians but also Hindus, Ahmadi Muslims, Shia Muslims and others. 

The government of Pakistan needs to do much more to protect religious minorities.  Not just to speak out against religion-inspired terror attacks but also to ensure that places of worship are properly protected, and that the extremist groups who are behind these attacks are brought to justice. 

The problem is that I fear there is some kind of connivance between the people in the Pakistani establishment, the military, the intelligence services and these attackers."

Mr Tatchell, who famously attempted to make a "Citizen's Arrest" of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe in 2001, added that British aid to Pakistan, now amounting to more than half a billion pounds annually, should be tied directly to assurances by the Islamabad government to safeguard the rights of minorities.

The London protest outside the Pakistani High Commission was organized by the British Pakistani Christian Association and drew dozens of expatriate Pakistanis of all religions as well as members of the clergy and campaigners.

Among the advocates in attendance was Rubab Mehdi Rizvi, Chairman of the Muslim campaign group International Imam Hussain Council (IIHC), who expressed her shock that atrocities of this nature were taking place in a country created as a home for those fleeing religious persecution. 

"Pakistan was created for the benefit of a religious minority, to allow them to practice their religion freely and peacefully.  So it is appalling that this is happening in that very country. 

These killers are the same people who are killing minorities and Shia muslims and destroying Sufi Shrines."

The protest came as burials continued in Peshawar of the victims of the attack which was reportedly carried out by an Islamist militant group with links to the Pakistani Taliban.

The militants are said to have to exploded two bombs just worshippers were leaving Sunday Mass around midday on Sunday in what is considered the deadliest ever attack on Pakistan's Christians.

Political and religious leaders condemned the bombing with former cricketer turned politician Imran Khan calling it an attack on humanity.  Pope Francis meanwhile, said those who carried out the attack "made a wrong choice, of hatred and war".



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