Prime Minister Imran Khan and other politicians strongly condemned Friday’s terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand, which killed 40 people and injured more than 20.
“Shocked and strongly condemn the Christchurch, New Zealand, terrorist attack on mosques,” said the premier on Twitter. “This reaffirms what we have always maintained: that terrorism does not have a religion. Prayers go to the victims and their families.”
“I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 where Islam & 1.3 billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror by a Muslim,” he went on to say. “This has been done deliberately to also demonise legitimate Muslim political struggles.”
New Zealand police took three men and a woman into custody after the shootings, which shocked people across the nation of 5 million people.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi condemned “in the strongest terms the tragic terrorist attack”, shared the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “FM has expressed condolences over loss of innocent lives in the heinous attack.”
In a separate tweet, Qureshi said the ministry was trying to ascertain whether any Pakistanis are among the victims.
Terming the incident “barbaric, violent act of terrorism”, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the “rise in white supremacist & Islamophobic attacks” was “unfortunate”.
The mosques — Masjid al Noor in central Christchurch and the other one in suburban Linwood — were packed with worshippers, and members of the Bangladesh cricket team were arriving when the shooter opened fire.
Members of the Bangladesh cricket team, including batsman Tamim Iqbal, described on social media their narrow escape from the mass shooting.
“Glad to hear the team is safe. Hope everyone else is safe also,” said Finance Minister Asad Umar, replying to Iqbal. “Terrorists destroying the peace of the world must be fought wherever they are and whichever religion they belong to.”
An unverified video has emerged on social media that was reportedly recorded by the Australian attacker during the shooting. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has urged people not to share the video of the attack as well as the manifesto of the alleged shooter, which alludes to anti-immigrant sentiment.
Activist and lawyer Jibran Nasir, referring to the video, said “innocent lives reduced to a political statement, shot like a video game and killed in the house of worship. If this is not terrorism, what is?”
PPP Senator Sherry Rehman called it “plain horrific, Islamophobic, anti-Muslim terrorism”, saying: “It is certainly not a shooting or simple act of violence as many Western media reports couch it as.”
Condemning the “heinous terrorist attack”, MNA Mohsin Dawar said the incident must be thoroughly investigated.
Zulfi Bukhari, the prime minister’s special assistant on overseas Pakistanis and human resource development, extended “prayers of the Pakistani nation to victims of the devastating #NewZealand attack”.
“Terrorism is a global issue and we stand with the people of NZ to combat it,” he added.
Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari, while calling it a “condemnable act of terrorism”, lashed out at the International Cricket Council (ICC) in a series of tweets, questioning if the authority would suspend cricket in New Zealand and “use the same yardstick they used for Pakistan to stop international cricket”.
It is pertinent to mention that ICC, however, had not ‘suspended’ international cricket in Pakistan following the attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in 2009.
Later, Mazari deleted her tweets, saying: “I realise my tweets on cricket NZ and ICC though valid were badly timed so have deleted them. But what is disturbing is seeing NZ police tweets still not referring to the #ChristchurchMosqueAttack as “terrorism” — simply referring to this terrorism as act of violence.”