November 13, 2021
By Jamal Safi
It has been seven long years after which the All Saints’ Church in Peshawar has been finally reconstructed following the deadly suicide attack that took place there in September 2014 – killing as many as 97 people and injuring 200. But even today, the survivors, unable to lead ‘normal’ lives, are still waiting for relief.
The attack had destroyed the church, located at Kohati Gate. The Christian community rebuilt it gradually at a cost of Rs4million. The government did not contribute any money for the reconstruction.
Speaking to Voicepk.net, Father Shahzad Murad, the pastor at Kohati Church, says that the survivors of the attack had received the promised money from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government – Rs500,000 for the deceased and Rs200,000 for the injured.
On the other hand, the relief promised by the federal government for the injured and the families of those killed in the deadly incident has so far failed to materialise.
“This was one of the worst attacks on minorities (in the history of the country) and the federal government of the time had announced Rs200 million for victims’ families, but the promise has yet to be fulfilled,” the pastor says.
Advocate Anwar Ghulam, a lawyer from within the Christian community, says that KP’s Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and Auqaf had changed the Rs200 million package for Christians into an endowment fund for all minorities. He terms it an injustice towards the families who had suffered so much because of the terrorist strike.
“My husband had undergone four major surgeries for the severe injuries he had sustained in the attack. Even now he is unable to live normally,” says Shabnam Sohail, wife of attack survivor Jonathan Sohail.
She says she often finds herself thinking only if her husband had not attended prayers on that day, they might all have been spared the ensuing miseries.
“Because of my husband’s health condition, our sons Noman and Asfan are not able to achieve their dreams of becoming doctors to serve humanity,” she lamented.
Somy Saleem’s family lost three people in that brutal September attack. Another two members of the family survived with injuries. She recalls how the incident brought an abrupt end to the lives of his brother Nazir Masih, sister in law Jameela and their daughter Sania, while the injured included his mother Yasmeen and sister Pinky.
“We are spending Rs15,000 to 20,000 a month on the treatment of these two survivors. The family has been facing hard times thanks to the government’s indifference towards the victims,” she says.
The President Bishop of the Church of Pakistan, Fr Humphrey Sarfaraz Peters says that during a meeting with the secretary to the government of KP for the minority affairs, Farrukh Sair, he was assured that the announced package would be only distributed among the Kohati blast victims and a committee had already been constituted to finalise the list of victims.
Meanwhile, Farrukh Sair says that the KP home department through the deputy commissioner Peshawar had already distributed Rs70.7 million among the 97 dead families and 111 major injured but the remaining Rs200 million had been converted to an endowment fund under the verdict of Supreme Court of Pakistan on 16, April 2015. He also says that the endowment fund would be used for all minorities affected by terrorist attacks henceforth.