— PM Kakar deplores such incidents highlight ‘prevailing societal ailment’

— Why two faiths who share similar beliefs would be at odds with each other; argues PM

JARANWALA: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar on Monday assured all the minority communities in the country that the government was committed to protect their lives and properties, and the perpetrators of heinous attacks against them would be brought to justice.

He said this during a solidarity visit to the Jaranwala, where at least 19 churches were torched by a violent mob over blasphemy allegations on August 16.

Speaking at a gathering of the Christian community, the premier emphasised unity among different faiths.

Expressing deep sorrow over the tragic incident in Faisalabad district’s Jaranwala, PM Kakar said that such incidents highlight prevailing societal ailment.

“If any individual is found committing injustices against the lives or property of minorities, the state will stand in solidarity with the minority brethren,” he added.

He said that there exists no place in the country where Christian brethren are not an integral part. Quoting verses from the Holy Quran, he reminded the respect accorded to Hazrat Isa (AS) and Bibi Maryam.

He questioned why the two faiths who share similar beliefs would be at odds with each other. “Extremism holds no affiliation with any religion, sect, or region,” he added.

He further said that the shared responsibility of safeguarding the rights of minorities rests upon all citizens.

Taking to X, formerly Twitter, Kakar, who was sworn in as caretaker prime minister on August 14, had earlier announced that he will visit the site of the incident today.

“I’m heading to Jaranwala to meet and empathise with our Christian brethren,” he tweeted.

 

More than 80 Christian homes and 19 churches were vandalised when thousands rampaged through a Christian neighbourhood in Jaranwala last week.

Terror and panic gripped the town for hours as the mob equipped with batons, push carts and patrol cans stormed the neighbourhood, ransacking homes and vandalising places of worship while chanting slogans of a right-wing party.

Reports that a copy of the Holy Quran had been desecrated were broadcast from mosques, with one cleric telling his followers it was “Better to die if you don’t care about Islam”.

The mob attack was widely condemned by political and religious leaders of the country as well as by civil society and the army chief.

Since then, a cleric is among a dozen people being investigated for using mosque loudspeakers to order protests against alleged blasphemy by Christians which erupted into mob violence in Punjab earlier this week, a senior police official said.

“That cleric should have understood that when you gather people in such a charged environment… in a country in which people were already very sensitive about (blasphemy) it is like adding fuel to fire,” Punjab IGP Usman Anwar told AFP during an interview.

He said the cleric was one of 12 people who were being investigated for using mosque loudspeakers, while more than 125 people have been arrested linked to the vandalism that followed, thanks to the use of facial recognition technology, mobile phone geo-fencing and data gathered from social media.

At its peak, more than 5,000 people had poured into the neighbourhood from other districts, with smaller mobs spreading to narrow alleys where they ransacked homes.

Christians who fled in their hundreds have criticised police for failing to protect their property, with some sheltered by their Muslim neighbours.

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