By Anmol Sheraz
The Church of Pakistan has declared September 22 as the Day of Christian Martyrs in Pakistan. On this day nine years back on September 22. 2013 twin suicide bombers killed 127 people and more than 250 got seriously injured in the deadly terrorist attack on All Saints Church Peshawar, and to date, this attack on the Christian community remains unforgettable.
Remembering the martyrs a special prayer service was held in All Saints Church where the higher Christian clergy and community took part. The relatives of the victims along with the survivors joined the church service to offer their prayers. Pakistan’s Former Bishop Mano Rumalshah and Bishop of Peshawar Diocese Humphrey Peters lead the prayer along with the priests and moderators of the Church and staff of missionary schools, including Catholic Parish Priests and Sisters.
Bishop Humphrey Peters (Bishop of KP and ex-FATA) expressed his deep disappointment towards the Christian political leaders and the provincial government. Sharing his grievances with Voice of KP he said, “an amount of 20 crore rupees was announced and approved by the then provincial and federal government with the prime focus on facilitating the widows and orphans who suffered in this terrible incident. The case was even forwarded to the honourable Supreme Court and the fund was approved. It has been long 9 years but still, the money announced for the victims has not been allotted.”
He also said, “ the selected political representatives of religious minorities in KP did not even attend the prayer service. Through the platform of VoKP, I want to appeal to the state to provide the survivors with their due right as the Christian community is not financially strong to bear the burden of treatments.”
As the community joins to commemorate their loved ones in the bombing, efforts are also made to make them overcome this harsh memory. While talking to Voice of KP, Yasir Bhatti, a Christian youth activist and central member of All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) said, “the victims have already suffered a lot as our community is not financially stable. It has been 9 years but they are still going through the aftershocks of the attack. The fund of 20 crores announced by the government has still not distrusted among the survivors of the incident.” He added, “I request the current government to help and support our community as the behaviour of the government is very disheartening”.
Similarly, Reverend Shahzad Murad told VoKP, “that with the allotted money, the victims could at least get to live an improved life, as currently, they are in dire need of financial aid and support from the government.” Whereas, after the attack through the efforts of religious clergy security of the church is tightened. It is pertinent to mention that All Saints Church was built inside the old city of Peshawar in 1883 to look like a mosque from the outside, to symbolise unity and harmony.