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Light flight

"Light flight" Continued...

Issue: "When liberals seize a state," Aug. 31, 2002

Attacks on Christians unnerve local believers also, who make up only 2 percent of Pakistan's population. "We don't feel secure in Pakistan. Not only the Christians in Murree but Christians all over the country feel the same," said Seed Javed, a pastor in Murree. Ironically, four of the six people killed in the school attack were Muslims-two security guards, the carpenter, and a passerby.

Ever since the United States went to war in neighboring Afghanistan, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has battled restive Islamic extremists in his own country with links to al-Qaeda terrorists and the ousted Taliban. As head of a military government, he has successfully uncovered those behind attacks on Westerners. Four were found guilty in the case of Daniel Pearl. But Mr. Musharraf has promised national elections in October, and his power likely will wane thereafter.

In the meantime, Mr. Musharraf condemned the attacks on Christians in a nationwide speech as "the most shameful and despicable examples of terrorism, all this in the name of Islam."

Last week police arrested 12 terrorists they blame for the Taxila attack. They believe the men, trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, also were involved in the March attack on the international church in Islamabad and were associated with those who attacked Murree Christian School. Those arrested included the alleged leader of the group, Saifu-ur-Rehman of the outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi movement. Police said Mr. Rehman confessed to the two previous church attacks. He said he visited the international church in Islamabad for several weeks before sending in a militant on a suicide mission. He said the group planned to blow up at least six churches.

At the same time, members of a U.S. panel on religious freedom say those arrests aren't enough. Pakistan's own "discriminatory religious legislation," including statutes that prohibit statements against Islam or conversions from Islam, are also at fault, according to the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom. In a letter to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, the panel urged him to raise the subject of discrimination against Christians when he travels to Pakistan at the end of the month.

Mindy Belz
Mindy Belz

Mindy travels to the far corners of the globe as the editor of WORLD and lives with her family in the mountains of western North Carolina. Follow Mindy on Twitter @mcbelz.

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