Pakistan sets up fund for church bomb victims
Prime minister vows to step up anti-terrorist effort
Pakistani Christians at All Saint's in Peshawar, one day after the blast (AFP/A Majeed)
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Thursday announced the establishment of a 200-million rupee (US$1.8 million) fund to help victims of the deadly September 22 attack on a church in northwestern Pakistan. He also vowed to step up the fight against terrorism.
At least 85 people were killed and over 140 were wounded when two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the 130-year-old All Saints church in Peshawar.
Sharif announced the government aid at a meeting with representatives of the minority community during his first visit to the militancy-hit province since coming to office.
Bishop Humphrey S Peters, bishop of Peshawar, led a delegation of families of the victims and other minority representatives to Governor House to meet the Prime Minister.
The money will be allocated to help the survivors and the families of those killed in the attack. Half the amount will be provided by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, while the other half will come from central government.
“It is extremely deplorable that people from every section of life are being targeted by terrorists,” said Sharif, adding that the government has a firm resolve to protect the people.
“Restoration of peace is the topmost priority of the present government. We are introducing strict measures to check the menace of terrorism,” he told reporters after the meeting. “The rights of minorities will be fully protected and there will be no discrimination against them.”
The new measures include better protection for judges, witnesses and prosecutors, as well as using video links in the trials of suspects. He also announced that a new special force is to be set up to combat terrorism, but did not elaborate.
The Christian delegation used the meeting to tell the prime minister about the problems being faced by the families of victims, pointing out that most of the affected were poor people who faced difficulties in getting proper treatment.
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