The death toll in the terrorist attacks on two Ahmedi mosques in Punjab's provincial capital rose to 95 today even as leaders of the Pakistani minority sect said the government’s "going soft" on religious hardliners had resulted in the carnage.
After receiving complete reports of the number of bodies removed from the two mosques at Model Town and Garhi Shahu that were attacked by heavily armed terrorists yesterday, officials put the death toll at 95.
Over 100 people were injured in the attacks in this eastern Pakistani city.
The Jamaat-e-Ahamdiyya Pakistan (JAP), which represents the sect, said the government had been "going soft" on radical groups that espoused violence against Ahmedis.
While Ahmedis consider themselves Muslim, they were declared non-Muslim in Pakistan in 1974, and in 1984 they were legally barred from proselytising or identifying themselves as Muslims.
"All hardline religious organisations in Pakistan are against us and are spreading venomous propaganda against us," JAP spokesman Qamar Suleman told PTI.
"We are told that the Punjabi Taliban and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen had carried out the attack. Tell me which religious party here does not endorse the idea of killing Ahmedis?
"The government has never come down hard on elements that instigate people against us, and that is why it is equally responsible for what happened yesterday," Suleman said.
He complained that a section of the media had incited people against Ahmedis.
"Take the example of prominent anchors like Hamid Mir, Mubashar Luqman and Amir Liaquat Hussain – they openly target Ahmedis.
"Hussain, in a recent show, got an edict from hardline religious leaders that it is Islamic to kill Ahmedis," he said.
Suleman said that unless the federal and Punjab governments acted "seriously and sincerely" to condemn and eliminate such elements, incidents like yesterday's attacks would not stop.
"Pakistani clerics want us to leave Pakistan. They are giving us this message through such attacks," Suleman said.
Over 1.5 million Ahmedis live in Pakistan.