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Human Rights advocate urges prayers for Pakistan amid bomb attacks ahead of general elections

by Kelly Valencia

Human rights advocate Qamar Rafiq is urging Christians to offer prayers for Pakistan in the midst of escalating violence ahead of the general elections.

The recent twin bombings in Balochistan claimed the lives of at least 26 people and left 50 others injured, targeting political candidates just a day before the elections.

The region, grappling with a low-level insurgency and various militant groups, has witnessed a surge in attacks, prompting the deployment of tens of thousands of police and paramilitary forces across the country.

Rafiq, a freelance columnist at Daily Times Pakistan, told Premier he is concerned about the potential impact of the violence on voter turnout.

"I feel that a lot of people are not going to turn up at election stations only because of security reasons. Particularly in Baluchistan, where there has been a series of violence against ethnic minorities," he said.

He also highlighted the broader challenges faced by religious minorities in Pakistan, including Christians. The country ranks seventh on the Open Doors list of nations where Christians experience extreme persecution.

When asked about the way a new government will impact the Christian community, Rafiq emphasised the tendency to overlook religious minorities in terms of financial conditions, job opportunities, and integration into mainstream society.

"It still seems very difficult; you can see the sorry state of ethnic minorities. More than 1,000 minority s girls are forcefully converted to other religions every year.

"Churches are also on security alert because we know that some of political processions in the past have happened in suburbs where Christians are going to come and vote."

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul-Haq-Kakar denounced the bombings and conveyed his condolences to the families of those who died.

He vowed that "every attempt to sabotage the law and order situation will be thwarted".

A three-day mourning period has been announced, but election voting will take place on Thursday as scheduled.

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