DUBAI// Babar Samuel’s world was turned upside down last week when what should have been a day of celebration was again marred by tragedy.
The 46-year-old Pakistani Christian was celebrating Easter at his home in Satwa last Sunday when he received a call from family to say his two nieces had been killed in the suicide bomb attack in Lahore.
The attack in a park packed with families killed 72 people and injured 280. Authorities in Pakistan are hunting for members of the Taliban faction that claimed responsibility.
“My brother’s children had gone to the park to celebrate Easter with their friends. As soon as they reached there, the bomber blew himself up. The girls, who were 18 and 20, died on the spot, while their brother, 16, was seriously injured,” Mr Samuel said.
“My mother, who was visiting us, rushed back to Lahore the same night. I couldn’t because I didn’t have the strength to see my devastated brother and his family. My ears are still echoing with the voices of my nieces who called me on that fateful morning to wish me happy Easter.”
This was not the first time Mr Samuel’s family were victims of terrorism.
“Last year, on the same Easter day, the same kind of terrorist attack happened in Lahore and my sister and her husband were seriously injured. We were still struggling to come out of that trauma and now my family suffers again with such unbearable loss. I am so shattered. I cannot see my family back home,” said the maintenance company boss, whose nieces were buried in Lahore on Wednesday.
Members of the Pakistani Christian community in Dubai condemned those behind the attack as “faithless” and “barbaric” and asked how they would feel had their own families and loved ones been targeted.
“Whosoever is committing such barbaric acts should at least think for a second time, ‘what if this happened to their own family?’ These barbaric culprits have no faith. No religion, Islam nor Christianity teaches such inhuman acts,” said Mr Samuel, who has lived in Dubai for 14 years.
Pastor John Qadir, president of United Christian Forum of Pakistan in Dubai, said the community was still in a state of shock.
“We have done prayers for those who lost their lives on such a special day. We can feel the pain and agony of our brothers and sisters back home,” said Mr Qadir, who criticised poor security in the park.
“It was a complete security lapse. The authorities already had the news that something could happened. Even then they didn’t make any extra arrangements.”
Mr Qadir said about 5,000 Pakistani Christians live and work in Dubai.
“The way the UAE takes care of people, no other country can do that. We feel so safe and protected here in Dubai. The kind of independence and security we enjoy here within the rule of law; we cannot even think about the same in our own home country.”
Sulaiman Dawood said he remembered visiting the same Lahore park as a child.
“I just couldn’t bear to imagine such an atrocity happening in a place where I had so much fun picnicking and playing cricket. It really is a horrifying thought,” said 19-year-old student.
Christians make up an estimated 1.6 per cent of Pakistan’s 200 million people.
Source: uae news