(MNN) — A suicide bomber attacked a contingent of policemen at the Red Mosque in
Sunday, killing 18 people.
The attack occurred shortly after thousands of people
gathered to mark the one-year anniversary of a siege at the city's mosque, in
which over 100 people had died. The
police had been maintaining security at the meeting.
new government has been negotiating with radical Islamic leaders and talking
about a military crackdown, "the jury's still out" on whether its efforts will
be successful, said Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs.
"What this explosion shows is the continued influence and
the continued power of radical Muslim groups within Pakistan," he said. "We see particularly the police seem to have
been targeted… [It's] obviously a knock against the government."
Although the new government is seen as more Pakistani and
less beholden to western powers, it is definitely interested in controlling
Islamic extremists and maintaining stability, especially in the volatile
northwestern region, Nettleton said.
"It's too early to say it's a success, too early to say it's
a failure. We're still watching to see
what the results are."
The country's instability affects its small, growing
Christian population, which is often targeted by Muslim radicals.
"When a radical Islamic group strikes out against somebody,
they generally are looking for a government target or a Christian target and
they would identify Christians as being loyal to the West, maybe as being
disloyal to Pakistan," Nettleton said. "There is that sort of identification that Christians are loyal to the West, maybe disloyal to Pakistan,
that Christians are somehow the surrogate for Western nations in Pakistan."
Despite the hostility, many Christians witness boldly for
their faith at great personal risk. Some
even witness to radical Muslims! Nettleton believes that bold, biblical
Christian living could have a tremendous impact for the Gospel in Pakistan. He says the church should pray for Pakistani
believers to have a confident trust in God.
"The governments will come and go, but God's protection is
permanent," he said. "Whatever happens
politically, whatever happens militarily, the Lord is watching over us, the
Lord is protecting us."