The killing of 18 Christians in Pakistan on Sunday highlights the vulnerability of religious minorities in the region while America and the UK attack Afghanistan - says the Churches' Commission on Mission (CCOM). "Christians and other minorities in Pakistan and India have been under great pressure in recent months" said CCOM secretary Simon Barrow. "Now they fear more attacks and incitements." The CCOM, which is part of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, brings together missionary agencies of the Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox churches of the UK. Many have strong links with churches throughout Asia. "Christians in Pakistan are loyal citizens of that country," said Mr Barrow. "They have no responsibility or involvement in the tragic events in Afghanistan. They seek to live in peace with their Muslim neighbours. For militants to make them a target for reprisals wholly wrong. We send our heartfelt condolences and prayers to the families of the victims and to the whole Christian community in Pakistan, " he said. Mr Barrow added: "Faithful Christians and Muslims throughout the world are appalled by the hijacking of religion for purposes of terror and revenge. Governments must give very high priority to protecting minority communities at a time of global instability and conflict. Politicians involved in the current war must also understand that actions they interpret as just, proportionate and religiously neutral will not be seen that way in the region - and they are likely to have wide and tragic consequences, such as the awful killing in Bahawalpur. People of faith are working and praying to end the cycle of violence, to secure justice through legal and political channels, and to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches those who desperately need it."
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