Deprived Of Funds Earmarked For Them, Christian Victims Of Terror Attack Await Government’s Help
As many as 97 people were killed and at least 200 were injured in a deadly suicide attack on All Saints Church at Kohati Gate, Peshawar, in September this year. The building of the church was reconstructed. However, the victims are still waiting for relief, as most of them are not able to restart normal lives.
The building of the church was destroyed but it was reconstructed with the help of Christian community funds worth Rs 4 million. But the families of those killed and injured in the deadly incident are still waiting for the packages announced by the federal government.
Speaking to Naya Daur, the pastor at Kohati Church, Father Shahzad Murad, said that the victims of terrorist attack had only received money from Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP) government which was Rs. 500,000 for the deceased and Rs 200,000 for the injured. He claimed that the reconstruction of the church had taken a few years and the government had not contributed even a single penny. The Christian community had collected Rs 4 million for the restoration of the church. It was one of the deadliest assaults on minorities and the then federal government had announced Rs200 million for victims’ families, but the promise has yet to be fulfilled, he added.
Regarding the announced package, Anwar Ghulam, an advocate from the Christian community stated that the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) of KP and Auqaf had changed the Rs200 million package for Christians into an endowment fund for all minorities – which is totally an injustice towards the victims of the church blast.
Shabnam Sohail, wife of attack victim Mr. Jonathan Sohail who had been injured severely, claimed that they had received Rs 200,000 from the KP government but nothing had been received yet from the package announced by the then federal government. She went on to state that her husband had gone through four major surgeries and he is still unable to return to normal life.
Remembering that deadly day, she says that the attack destroyed the family. She often finds herself thinking that if her husband had not attended prayers on that day, they might all have been spared the miseries that followed the attack. “Due to my husband’s health condition, our sons Noman and Asfan are not able to achieve their dreams of becoming doctors to serve humanity” she lamented.
Somy Saleem, from a family that lost three members that day and two more wounded, identifies the slain loved ones as Nazir Masi, his wife Jameela and their daughter Sania. The injured are his Sister Pinky Saleem and mother Yasmeen. He stated that still they are spending Rs 15 to 20 thousand for the treatment of the injured. The family faces hard times due to the government’s neglect of the victims.
President Bishop of the Church of Pakistan Humphrey Sarfaraz Peters said that during a meeting with Secretary to Government of KP Auqaf, Hajj, Religious and Minority Affairs Farrukh Sair, he was assured that the announced package would be only distributed among the Kohati blast victims and the committee had already been constituted to finalize the list of victims.
In an interview the Secretary to the Government of KP Auqaf, Hajj, Religious and Minority Affairs Department, Farrukh Sair, said that home department KP through the Deputy Commissioner Peshawar had already distributed Rs70.7 million among the 97 dead families and 111 major injured but the remaining Rs200 million had been converted to an endowment fund under the verdict of Supreme Court of Pakistan on 16, April 2015. He further stated that the endowment fund would be used for all minorities affected by terrorist attacks henceforth.
The author is a Peshawar-based journalist and currently working as a reporter and editor with The Frontier Post. He can be reached at [email protected]