Islamabad (Web Desk): Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Wednesday said that he was “gutted” by the visuals coming from Jaranwala involving the attack on minorities, assuring that strict action would be taken against law violators.
“I am gutted by the visuals coming out of Jaranwala, Faisalabad. Stern action would be taken against those who violate law and target minorities,” the premier wrote on social media platform X, (formerly Twitter).
The interim premier also said that all law enforcement agencies have been asked to “apprehend culprits and bring them to justice”.
“Rest assured that the government of Pakistan stands with our citizenry on an equal basis,” PM Kakar said.
I am gutted by the visuals coming out of Jaranwala,#Faisalabad. Stern action would be taken against those who violate law and target minorities. All law enforcement has been asked to apprehend culprits and bring them to justice. Rest assured that the government of Pakistan stands… https://t.co/GHWUGA1NNq— Anwaar ul Haq Kakar (@anwaar_kakar) August 16, 2023
As per the media reports, an angry mob attacked multiple churches in the Jaranwala tehsil of Faisalabad on Wednesday over allegations of blasphemy.
The vandalised churches include Salvation Army Church, United Presbyterian Church, Allied Foundation Church and Shehroonwala Church situated in the Isa Nagri area.
An FIR was lodged against the persons accused of blasphemy under Sections 295B [pertaining to the desecration of the Holy Quran] and 295C [use of derogatory remarks...in respect of the Holy Prophet] of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
Inspector General of Police Punjab (IGP) Usman Anwar said the police officials were negotiating with the protesters, adding that the area had also been cordoned off to avoid further damages.
Punjab Home Department spokesperson stated that a request had been sent for deployment of Rangers in the area.
Earlier in a statement made on X (formerly Twitter), president Bishop of the Church of Pakistan Azad called for justice.
Words fail me as I write this. We, Bishops, Priests and lay people are deeply pained and distressed at the Jaranwala incident in the Faisalabad District in Pakistan. A church building is being burnt as I type this message. Bibles have been desecrated and Christians have been… pic.twitter.com/xruE83NPXL— Bishop Azad Marshall (@BishopAzadM) August 16, 2023
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has demanded that the perpetrators and instigators of the violence should be identified and punished to the “full extent of the law”.
... appear to have increased in recent years. Not only has the state failed to protect its religious minorities, but it has also allowed the far right to permeate and fester within society and politics. Both the perpetrators and instigators of this violence...— Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (@HRCP87) August 16, 2023
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif also slammed the incident, saying: “What is happening in Jaranwala is sad and disturbing.”
“There is no place for violence in any religion. All religious places, Books and personages are sacred and deserve our highest level of respect. I urge the government to take action against the culprits,” the former premier said.
Shehbaz also appealed to the “religious scholars from all schools of thought to come forward and condemn the reprehensible actions”.
“Such madness can't be allowed. Pakistan belongs to all religious minorities,” he wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
What is happening in Jaranwala is sad and disturbing. There is no place for violence in any religion. All religious places, Holy Books and personages are sacred and deserve our highest level of respect. I urge the government to take action against the culprits. I also appeal to…— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) August 16, 2023
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also condemned the incident.
“Horrified to hear about the attack on Churches in Jaranwala, Faisalabad, violating the sanctity of places of worship is absolutely unacceptable. The administration must ensure the safety of the Christian community and their Churches,” the former foreign minister on X said.
Horrified to hear about the attack on Churches in Jaranwala, Faisalabad, Violating the sanctity of places of worship is absolutely unacceptable. The administration must ensure the safety of the Christian community and their Churches.— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) August 16, 2023
Condemning the “dastardly attack” former interior minister Rana Sanaullah stressed that the culprits should be brought to justice at the earliest.
“Extremism and hatred nullify the fundamental principles of Islam,” he tweeted.
Strongly condemn the dastardly attack on the church in Jaranwala today. The culprits must be brought to justice at the earliest, and the law should take its due course. Extremism and hatred nullify the fundamental principles of Islam.— Rana SanaUllah Khan (@RanaSanaullahPK) August 16, 2023
Awami National Party (ANP) leader and former senator Afrasiab Khattak condemned the incident and demanded that the culprits should be brought to book.
This is condemnable. Pakistani state has failed to provide security to the worship places of people who follow religions other than Islam. Impunity to the crimes committed in the name of religion has emboldened extremists and terrorists. Bring the culprits to book. https://t.co/8kSoxB0q6O— Afrasiab Khattak (@a_siab) August 16, 2023
Former Balochistan home minister Senator Sarfaraz Bughti also called on the Punjab government to enforce its full might to protect churches and Christian hope.
“We, as a Pakistani, can’t allow the madness happening in Jaranwala,” he said on X. “We have a responsibility toward the minorities in our country, and we couldn’t let the crisis worsen any further!” Bughti added.
We as a Pakistani can’t allow the madness happening in Jaranwala. Punjab Govermnet should enforce its full might to protect the Christian churches and homes. We have a responsibility toward the minorities in our country, and we couldn't let the crisis worsen any further!…— Senator Sarfraz Bugti (@PakSarfrazbugti) August 16, 2023
Former human rights minister Shireen Mazari termed the incident “absolutely shameful and condemnable”.
Absolutely shameful & condemnable. Where are the law enforcers to protect our Christian community and their churches? https://t.co/75CYgD5tMv— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) August 16, 2023
Senior journalist Hamid Mir said that the attack on a church was a violation of Islamic teachings.
Separately, Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) Chairman Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi said religious leaders visited Jaranwala today to address the situation.
In a joint statement issued by the PUC and International Interfaith Harmony Council (IIHC), Ashrafi said that religious leaders actively engaged with the community to stabilise the situation and foster an environment of understanding.
It further said that the leadership of PUC and IIHC underscored the shared responsibility of safeguarding worship places and residences of all communities.
“They assured that the protection of the religious places was not only the duty of the Muslim populace but also a responsibility upheld by the state,” the statement added.