New York: Unless Pakistan increases its efforts to outlaw, eliminate and foil Islamist terrorism on its soil, and also takes appropriate steps to protect the minority Christian community from attacks by fundamental elements such as the ISIS, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and the Taliban, such elements will continue to gain a menacing foothold across the country, an expert based in Islamabad has said.
In an article published by the website of the New York-based Gatestone Institute, an international policy council and think tank, Kaswar Klasra, a journalist based in Islamabad, Pakistan, has said that Christians, who make up just two percent of Pakistan’s population, are the most vulnerable victims of this threat posed by the ISIS with the help of existing terror outfits.
In the article, Klasra reveals that over the past year-and-a-half, the ISIS has coordinated and claimed responsibility for six attacks, the latest taking place on December 17, when a suicide-bombing at a church in Quetta left at least nine worshippers dead and more than 50 seriously wounded.
Klasra quotes Sarfraz Bugti, Balochistan’s Home Minister, as saying that the casualties could have been higher had Pakistani security forces not responded swiftly to the attack on the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church — where 400 men, women and children were attending Sunday services.
The previous terror attacks taking place in Pakistan for which the ISIS has claimed responsibility are as follows:
– August 8, 2016: A suicide bomber killed at least 70 people and wounded more than 100 in an attack on a crowd of lawyers and journalists gathered in a government hospital in Quetta to mourn a lawyer who had been murdered earlier in the day. The attack was claimed by a joint ISIS-Taliban faction.
– October 24, 2016: ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on a police training college in Quetta. The assault, committed by three heavily armed terrorists against sleeping cadets, left more than 60 dead and more than 165 others wounded.
– February 16, 2017: An ISIS-affiliated suicide bomber blew himself up at a Sufi shrine in Pakistan”>Pakistan’s Sindh province, killing more than 90 worshippers and wounding more than 300.
– April 18, 2017: The Pakistani army foiled a planned Easter suicide bombing against Christians in Lahore. Given the amount of explosives recovered from the perpetrators, had the attack succeeded, there would have been mass casualties.
– May 12, 2017: An ISIS suicide bombing on the convoy of the deputy chairman of the Pakistani Senate, traveling on the National Highway in the Mastung District of Baluchistan, left at least 28 people dead and 40 wounded.
– August 12, 2017, an ISIS suicide bombing on a convoy of the Pakistani military in Quetta left 15 people dead – among them eight soldiers – and 40 others wounded.
He concludes by saying that incidents like Quetta will be repeated as long as steps are not taken to put an effective and efficient counter-terrorism strategy in place. (ANI)