A Church of Scotland minister who lost his mother and other close relatives in a suicide attack on a church in Pakistan says he forgives the killers
The Reverend Aftab Gohar lost his 79-year-old mother, niece, nephew, two uncles and other relatives and friends in the bomb attack on All Saints’ Church in Peshawar on September 22.
They were among 122 who died that day with another 170 injured.
Mr Gohar learned of the atrocity shortly before he led Sunday morning service at Abbotsgrange Church in Grangemouth.
The minister and his wife Samina immediately travelled to Pakistan where he took part in a memorial service.
He said: “It is wrong what these people did but I forgive them. We pray that they may one day develop the wisdom to understand that it is not right to kill children and other innocent people.
“There were 125 children in Sunday School that day. My sister was teaching there. Forgiving is what we learn from the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why I forgive.”
Mr Gohar stressed that most Muslims have been respectfully and kindly in the 130 years of the Christian church’s existence in Pakistan – and displayed those same qualities after the tragedy.
He said: “The majority of Muslims helped, taking victims to hospital or helping to prepare graves or prepare food for the injured, as well as for the friends and relatives caring for them.
“The idea that all Muslims hate Christians is simply not true.”
The Very Reverend Dr Andrew McLellan, convener of the Church of Scotland World Mission Council, said: “It is very moving to hear the words of Rev. Aftab Gohar. These heartless killings happened in Pakistan, but forgiveness makes the whole world a better place.
“The Church of Scotland is richer for having a minister of the stature of Aftab among us. He and his family are entitled to count on the love and prayers of us all.”
Among those badly injured was Mr Gohar’s niece, Farah Javed (23), who has been left paralysed from the waist down.
The minister hopes to bring her to Scotland for treatment and The Falkirk Herald is campaigning to help that happen.