FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2015 | USCIRF
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Pakistani Taliban splinter group now reportedly affiliated with ISIL, on May 13 murdered at least 45 Ismaili Muslims in Karachi. The killers boarded a bus transporting Ismailis and shot riders at point blank range. Ismailism comes from a branch of Shi'a Islam, and the Pakistani Taliban and other terrorist groups regularly target Shi'a mosques and processions, as well as Christians and Hindus.
"We condemn this horrific attack and extend our condolences to the grieving families," said USCIRF Chair Katrina Lantos Swett. "The Pakistani government must redouble its efforts to confront militant groups that target minority religious communities, be they Ismailis, other Shi'as, Christians or Hindus. The perpetrators and planners must be brought to justice."
USCIRF Commissioners Katrina Lantos Swett and Mary Ann Glendon made the first ever Commissioner-level visit to Pakistan in March 2015. They met with high ranking Pakistani officials, including National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz and officials in the Ministries of Interior and Religious Affairs. Tragically, suicide bombers attacked two churches in Lahore the day the USCIRF delegation left Pakistan.
"Having visited Pakistan recently and met with targeted communities, I understand the challenging security environment Prime Minister Sharif and his government are facing. These attacks underscore the urgent need for the government to provide protection to religious minority communities," said Lantos Swett. "This attack is further evidence of how more must be done to provide adequate protection to targeted groups and prosecute perpetrators and those calling for violence."
USCIRF’s recently released 2015 Annual Report found that “Pakistan represents one of the worst situations in the world for religious freedom for countries not currently designated by the U.S. government as ‘countries of particular concern.’” Sectarian violence is chronic, and Pakistan’s repressive blasphemy laws and anti-Ahmadi laws continue to violate religious freedoms and foster a climate of impunity.
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