Catholics in Pakistan Condemn NATO Strike

KARACHI, Pakistan (CNS) – The Catholic Church’s justice and peace commission organized a protest condemning a NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The Asian church news agency UCA News said that, holding pro-army banners and national flags, more than 50 protesters from several Catholic institutions gathered outside the press club in Karachi Dec. 2. They shouted slogans, prayed and lit candles for the “faithful martyrs.”

The protesters – including two priests and 10 friars – expressed outrage at what they called an attack on their country’s sovereignty and demanded justice for the affected families.

NATO helicopters attacked two Pakistan border posts Nov. 26, killing 24 soldiers.

The attack prompted Pakistan to pull out of early December talks in Germany to discuss neighboring Afghanistan’s future. The Pakistani government also blocked NATO supply routes to Afghanistan and demanded the U.S. leave a remote airbase used for drone flights.

Thorough Investigation Pledged
At the German meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged a thorough investigation of why the Pakistani soldiers were killed in the airstrikes.

A statement from the justice and peace commission said: “It is time to take our airbases back from foreign armies. The government should press for a transparent investigation into the NATO raid.”

“We support our army; we shall sacrifice everything for our homeland and no longer stay silent,” said Father Thomas Gulfam, general-secretary of the Heralds of Peace, an interfaith group.

Unacceptable Cost in Civilian Lives
Capuchin Father Abid Habib, president of the Major Superiors Leadership Conference of Pakistan, said the cost in civilian lives because of the war against the Taliban was unacceptable.

“The war on terror has killed over 30,000 civilians and there are many miles to go in a conflict that is not ours,” he said.