Interfaith Memorial Service
for the victims of suicide bombing on Easter  in Pakistan

A very moving and spiritually uplifting  Interfaith Prayer Service was organized  at Peace Center, Lahore on 2nd of April, 2016 to commemorate the tragic incident in Lahore on 27th of March, Easter Sunday, in which 76 Christian and Muslim; children, women and men were killed and over 350 injured  in a merciless and inhumane suicide bomb attack in a public park, Gulshan-e-Iqbal.

This Memorial Service, organized by the URI Pakistan and Peace Center Lahore,  brought  over 100 Muslim, Christian and Hindu religious leaders, Ulama, priests, pastors, Nuns/Sisters, human rights activists, political leaders, social workers, promoters of interfaith dialogue and a large number of youth from different cities.  All had gathered for one purpose to pray and express solidarity with the relatives of those who had lost their dear ones in the barbaric attack on innocents Christian and Muslim citizens of Pakistan. And to pray for the recovery of those who had been injured, some seriously. And pray for a peaceful Pakistan. All vowed not to be afraid and thus keep on working tirelessly for the promotion of human values, peace and acceptance of one another.  

The service started with recitations from the Holy Bible and the Holy Quran, whereas Hindus offered prayers according to their own scripture. Fr James Channan OP, explained the purpose of the memorial service and read the names of all those 76 persons who were martyred in this horrific attack. He also shared that many people around the globe, especially from Japan, USA, Germany, Canada, Italy, Spain, Argentina, New Zeeland and India are praying with us at this moment and they are present here with us spiritually. The Dominican students sung lamenting psalm and hymns. One minute silence was observed and candles lit for all victims of this suicide bombing. Most probably it was the largest interfaith memorial service in Pakistan. 

Here are comments of  some of those who spoke at this interfaith event:  

Dominican Prior Vice Provincial and President of the Major Superiors Leadership Conference, Pakistan, Fr Pascal Paulus OP, expressed gratitude that this service was organized at Peace Center. On behalf of the Major Superiors Leadership Conference Pakistan he said, I express solidarity with all those who have suffered heavy loses from the attack in Gulshan-e-Iqbal. Let us raise our voices and commit ourselves to end uproot  terrorism. I have visited the site of this carnage and it has been be very sad. In such circumstances we need to work in harmony and preach humanity. He also shared  that Pope Francis and Master of the Dominican Order, Fr Bruno Cadore OP, have sent message of condolences to all Pakistanis. They share our pain and sorrow. We must never loose heart but keep on working jointly for peaceful coexistence. We must be very courageous and never bow before such evil powers. Let us play our role to make our country an abode of peace. “
Allama Mushtaq Hussain Jaffery, a prominent Shia, Muslim leader, offered prayers for all those who lost their lives in this carnage. He strongly condemned this attack and demanded government of Pakistan to capture the culprits and bring them to justice. He said, I fully support the military action under the able leadership of General Raheel Shareef and such organizations who create terror and attack us and our children. And prayed for this success of this military operation.

Dr. Munwar Chand, a Hindu leader said it is heart breaking to hear the cries of lamentation all around us at the loss of these very precious lives.  Just imagine how horrible it is for the family from Sanghar in Sind who have lost 8 members of their family. Let us  offer prayer according to our own religions and console the grieving families. Our shock cannot express enough in words.

Mr. Sohail Ahmed Raza, Director of Interfaith Relations, Minhajul University, Lahore said, that I regret to say that our government did not provide enough security to the people and it had not taken action against the militant groups who are responsible for such attack. On behalf of Minhajul University I condemn this barbaric attack and brutal killing of our Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters. “ 
Allama Ashiq Hussain, said, “ Several Muslim Ulama have organized programs to condemn this attack. All religions teach us peace, therefore, let us work for peace. We must not give up doing the good. I am sure one day we good shall overcome and evil powers will be destroyed.”  
Hafiz Nauman Hamid, Director of World Council of Religions said, “We are going through a very painful time. We remember all those who are martyred in this tragic bombing. We pray that their souls may rest in peace. We also pray for peace in our country. This attack has proved that the terrorists have no religion. They are disoriented people and I condemn it in the strongest words. We need to recognize our enemies and unite to fight against their evil intentions.

 Fr Victor Saweera OFM,  a Franciscan priest, said that we are going through a very painful time for we are being attacked by the terrorists. All people want to live, but how unfortunate it is that such terrorists are killing innocent people. We let be untied against these terrorists and carry on war  for peace against these extremists.” 

Pastor Emmanuel Khokhar, from the Church  of Pakistan said, “ This memorial service reminds us that we  need to keep on working for peace and we must never loose our hearts to for the noble cause of peace and harmony. Now the time has come that our government must take stern action against these terrorists and bring them to justice.” He also said that I condemn this attack. 

Syed Wali Ullah Shah Bukhari, a Muslim religious leader, offered prayers for the eternal of martyrs and for the consolation of grieving families. He said may the Almighty Allah accept  the purpose of our joint interfaith memorial service here. We must work in unity and spread the message of peace and harmony in all those areas where we have come from. 

A female political leader and representative of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, political party and Member Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, Ms. Shuneela Ruth expressed her deep shock and sorrow over this attack. She also gave message of condolences from Iman Khan, Chairman of the party. She further said that our hearts are bleeding because of this tragedy and it very painful that militants attacked Christians on the great feast of Easter, when we were celebrating the resurrection of Christ. She strong criticized  the government in failing to provide protection to its citizens.   She appealed Christians that as we worked for the creation of Pakistan so let us work for it prosperity and development. 

Reported by: Fr James Channan OP, Director, Peace Center, Lahore, URI Regional Coordinator, Pakistan. 6 April, 2016

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