When I started writing for The American Spectator, I had no idea the breadth of people who would come across my scribblings. I recently wrote a short blog post on the difficult plight of Christians in Pakistan and suggested that the United States should pull foreign aid from Pakistan for as long as they have laws discriminating against religious minorities.
I hadn’t thought too much about it until I received a message on Facebook from a Pastor Baber George. Now, if you’ve been on the Internet long enough, you are bound to receive plenty of suspicious emails soliciting your credit card information, so I was immediately skeptical. However, Pastor George is very real and he serves as a Christian minister in Sri Lanka. He and his family fled Pakistan in October 2011 to escape the continual persecution that they faced. He now works for Morningstar Missions and serves Christians in Sri Lanka with a particular focus on those fleeing Pakistan.
So when news of the horrific bombing of the All Saints Church in Peshawar reached me, my new online acquaintance came to mind. Two suicide bombers, courtesy of the Taliban, ran towards the church doors as services let out. The New York Times is reporting 85 dead, including two Muslim police officers tasked with protecting the church. Pastor George says that he is hearing the death toll is closer to 130.
This incident is the latest example of how difficult it is for religious minorities in Pakistan. Hundreds of Shiite Muslims have faced attacks over the past year and Christians face legal penalties for their faith. Yet, the United States still provides plenty of aid to a government that can neither protect nor treat religious minorities equitably.
The tragic attack raises another question: Why are we negotiating with the Taliban in Afghanistan? The Taliban has a vision for what Afghanistan and Pakistan should look like for Christians and other religious minorities, and it looks a lot like All Saints Church this past Sunday. Mullah Omar, who provided aid and protection within Afghanistan’s borders to Osama bin Laden, is still considered the leader of the Taliban. Indeed, this is the very man that the U.S., Afghanistan, and Pakistan are thinking about bringing to the negotiating table.
The situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan as it relates to the Taliban is exceedingly complex. I understand that yesterday’s enemy may become today’s ally. But the Taliban is not a rational actor to be bartered with. They are evil men with evil intentions. To the degree that the U.S. is able, we should encourage, cajole, and berate the Pakistani government until they actively work to end the Taliban’s power there. The same goes for Hamid Karzai and Afghanistan. The war is winding down, appropriately so, but our allies need to take up the fight. They need to do so not only for their own citizens and survival, but also because if they don’t, it makes no strategic sense to continually write them blank checks.
I reached out to Pastor George by email to get his thoughts on the awful tragedy at All Saints Church. He told me:
Being Christians, we know that persecution is a part of our lives and that we will face it. But what truly breaks my heart is the flood of innocent blood that is washing over our country.
That blood is on Taliban hands.