ISLAMABAD: A leading Pakistani Muslim organization of scholars, members of an Islamic constitutional body, and Christian leaders joined hands on Wednesday to demand the government constitute special courts to hand swift punishments to culprits of last week's mob attacks against Christians in eastern Pakistan.
Several churches and homes of Christians in Pakistan's eastern Jaranwala city were torched last Wednesday by an angry Muslim mob over allegations that two Christian brothers had desecrated the holy Qur'an.
Police have since rounded up over 100 suspects who were reportedly at the forefront of one of the most severe incidents of anti-Christian violence in the country's history and according to eyewitness records, had attacked Christian homes armed with sticks and knives. Pakistan's caretaker government has promised to provide protection to the Christian community and take stern action against culprits involved in the mob violence.
“I am astonished as to why a special court has not yet been established to swiftly process and punish the culprits of the Jaranwala incident,” Dr. Qibla Ayaz, chairman of the constitutional Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) said during a seminar at an Islamabad church to promote interfaith harmony.
“It is our demand that a special court should be immediately established to work on this case day and night without any breaks,” Ayaz said. He called for heavy penalties to be imposed on those found guilty of the violence to ensure that financial losses dealt to the Christian community are compensated not from the public exchequer but from those who were involved in the attack.
Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) Chairman Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi demanded swift trials of the individuals involved in the violence, saying that it is unacceptable to disrespect any religion.
“We demand that all individuals involved in this horrific crime should undergo a speedy trial in a special court, and the investigation report must be made public,” Ashrafi said.
He urged authorities to uncover any conspiracies behind the episode, including the possible hand of foreign entities in the attack.
Ashrafi pointed out that Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar had visited Jaranwala to express solidarity with Christians and handed out compensation cheques to the victims.
“We will give them love and I appeal to the Muslims to give their Christian brothers so much love so that they forget the pain caused by this horrific incident,” he added.
Following the violence, the PUC constituted a 24-member committee comprising Christian and Muslim leaders to promote interfaith harmony between the two communities.
“Our committee of 24 members will closely oversee developments on a daily basis and will organize conferences nationwide to enhance public awareness and foster interfaith harmony,” Ashrafi shared.
Dr. Joseph Arshad, bishop of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, thanked members of the Muslim community for speaking up for Christians after the violence in Jaranwala.
“We seek swift and transparent justice that serves as a deterrent, ensuring that no one would dare to replicate such an incident in future,” Arshad said, adding that it was crucial to put an end to the abuse and disrespect of religions in Pakistan and worldwide.
“Had our community responded with violence on that unfortunate day, it could have led to significant bloodshed, but our community consistently strives for peace during times of trouble,” he added.