As Pakistan nears its general election, the political alliance between Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N and militant organisations like the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has come under scrutiny.
Last week, after the attack on a Christian-majority locality in Lahore, the
head of the PTI party, Imran Khan, said that attacks on the country’s religious minorities are happening because of the political alliances that are in place.
“The Sharifs will not react to the attacks on the Christians because they have reached a political understanding with the attackers,” he told a rally.
The attack on Joseph Colony in Lahore was spearheaded by activists of the Jamat-ud-Dawa and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, both extremist militant outfits.
The Human Rights Commission has also warned against the political backing of those who target the religious minorities and the country’s Shia community. The HRCP warns that in the past, too, attacks on Christians were not followed up by the Punjab government because it did not want to antagonise its allies.
This point was also raised by interior minister Rehman Malik who said that the PML-N had allowed terrorists to set up training centres in Punjab and shielded them from federal forces.
Evidence of state cooperation exists. The Joseph Colony attack was coordinated with the police, say observers, who had warned residents to flee ahead of the carnage.