One day after Easter, four members of a Christian family in Pakistan were murdered in what appears to be a religiously motivated attack. The incident occurred in the city of Quetta, the capital of the restive Baluchistan province. According to the police, the family was traveling the city by rickshaw when gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire. One woman managed to survive the attack, but her father and three cousins were killed.

Moazzam Jah Ansari, an official with the provincial police in Baluchistan, told Pakistani reporters that the Christian family suffered a "targeted attack." Ansari further added that the incident was "an act of terrorism." Despite being only two-percent of Pakistan's population, Christians in the country are often targets of extremist violence.

The official blasphemy laws of Pakistan, which gained power in modern times thanks to military dictator Zia-ul Haq, have often been used to oppress the Christian community and force them underground.

Besides the Pakistani state, Islamist groups like the Pakistani Taliban, ISIS, and Al-Qaeda have taken it upon themselves to target Pakistan's Christian minority. These attacks have included assassinations, murders, and suicide bombings.

History of violence

Last December, over nine people were killed and over fifty were wounded when a suicide bomber entered a Christian church in Quetta. The attack, which occurred at the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church, came when worshipers were lining up to receive holy communion.

ISIS later claimed responsibility for the attack. Earlier, in September 2016, Islamic extremists randomly began firing into the Christian quarter of the city of Peshawar. That same month and in the same city, the jihadist group Jundallah used two suicide bombers to murder 127 Christians at the All Saints Church, an Anglican church officially recognized by the government of Pakistan.

On March 27, 2016, over seventy Pakistani Christians were killed in Lahore while they celebrated Easter in a public playground. The bombing was claimed by the Taliban.

Nationalist struggles

Besides anti-Christian violence, Baluchistan is also home to an ongoing insurgency. Here, separatist militias representing the Baluch (or Baloch) ethnic group have been violently resisting the central government in Islamabad since the end of World War II.

While violence in the region has declined since 2012, Balochi insurgents still claim that the Pakistani government is using extralegal killings to defeat their movement for national self-determination.

The Balochi people are predominately Sunni Muslim, so the violence against them is not religiously motivated. The same cannot be said for the Christian family murdered on Monday in the largest Balochi city in Pakistan.