New York. September 26. The leaders of Pakistan American Christian coalition PACC, Earnest Gulab, Manzoor Alam, Samuel Pashi, Anwar Saddique and Hamid Gill, Impatiens Friends IF Chief Nisar Khan, Pakistani Christian association in north America PCA c
Mean while, From Karachi, Robin Fernandez, PCP correspondent reports of that Hundreds of Christian protesters congregated this afternoon outside the building where seven charity workers were ruthlessly murdered yesterday, amid reports that the condition of another victim was critical.
Wearing black armbands and carrying small wooden crosses over their shoulders, the protesters moved menacingly towards the entrance of Rimpa Plaza but security guards flanked by policemen waved them away. The protesters, most of them youths, chanted the slogan "We want justice" and demanded the immediate arrest of the killers.
They were shocked to see that the majority of the building offices had chosen to keep their shops and businesses open. "How cruel can this society be? Seven people were killed here yesterday and today instead of showing solidarity with their Christian neighbors people are acting as if everything is normal," said an angry protester, who urged the crowd to force the closure of their business offices. His words had a telling effect and within minutes shop shutters came thundering down. A shopping center in the vicinity, Gul Plaza, also heeded the protesters' call and closed out of fear, rather than out of respect for the Christian mourners, a male witness said. Before the Christian marchers could close down other markets they were accosted by the police and asked to disperse, he pointed out.
The cross-wielding youths obediently clambered into the four buses that they had arrived in, though they did try to stop their cavalcade near the mausoleum of the Father of the Nation Muhammad Ali Jinnah, about half a kilometre away from Rimpa Plaza.But again the law-enforcement officials riding in half a dozen vehicles trailing behind them intervened and motioned for them to drive on.
FEW SIGNS OF PROTESTS
Though the Christian community appeared to be surrounded by a pall of gloom on Thursday, there were few visible signs of protests, at least on the streets. All Christian-run educational institutions were closed as part of the three-day mourning announced by church leaders and the All-Pakistan Minority Alliance.
The closure was announced in a one-line notice placed at the gate of a school run on the premises of the YWCA, a few hundred yards away from Rimpa Plaza, which simply said: "The school will be closed for three days." Meanwhile local Christians continued to vent their anger at the targeted killings. They organized small marches and protests throughout the day. But political watchers say almost all these protests were drowned out by the din of a fresh round of electioneering in the city.
NINTH VICTIM SURFACES
Officials clarified that in yesterday's attack eight workers of the Idara-e-Amn-o-Insaf had been targeted. They identified the eighth man as Robin Sharif, not Robin Piranditta as earlier reported. Piranditta was the one who was badly beaten up by the attackers and suffered a severe concussion. While undergoing treatment in hospital he suffered a mild heart attack.
Sharif was herded into the spacious reading room of the Idara with seven other men and shot in the head. "His condition is not stable," said a doctor who examined him last evening. "Luckily the bullet richocheted off his head but it has done severe damage. The left side of his body is completely paralyzed," he said. "Sharif was moved from Civil Hospital to Aga Khan Hospital but I doubt if that will make much of a difference to his condition," he added dourly. It is understood that the law-enforcement officials concealed his identity from the news media until such time they got from him valuable clues about the attackers.
Killers are our brothers.
Church leaders on Thursday sought to comfort their grieving flock with the quintessential Christian virtues of love and forgiveness. "Let us continue to show love and mercy to those who hate and target us, not to act according to the flesh, but according to the spirit. Let us pray for those who have lost their lives," the Archbishop of Karachi Simeon Pereira said in a statement.
He described the killers as brothers--even if their actions showed they didn't understand the abiding kinship that exists. Though, he insisted that his flock should "grieve for those who have committed this heinous crime and whose motives are unknown". "We are people of hope, threats cannot discourage us from good work," the archbishop of Karachi said. "We will continue with these works."
At the same time, the archbishop appealed for calm and told members of his flock to remain peaceful. "Don't allow hatred or revenge to take root in your hearts," he said. reminding them of the time-tested Christian virtues of faith, hope and love. Ejaz Inayat, the newly appointed Anglican bishop, urged Christians not to abandon efforts to strengthen Christian-Muslim solidarity. Addressing a protest meeting organized by the Sindh Democatic Alliance, the Rt Rev. Inayat appealed for restraint and unity for the sake of national integrity.
"The terrorists who are targeting our community and its institutions are trying to destabilize Pakistan and erode the existing goodwill between religious groups in the country," he said. The Anglican bishop called for the immediate arrest of the killers. " Muslims and Christians are brothers let no one forget that." He called upon the government to announce compensation for the relatives of the victims-a demand that was also repeated by political leaders elsewhere in the country. Muhamad Ali Durrani, secretary-general of the Millat party, said officials must award compensation to the members of the affected families within 48 hours. "The victims of the Karachi tragedy were breadwinners and their families are facing acute financial problems following their deaths, so the government must swiftly arrange for funds," he added.