Dozens arrested in police crackdown n Public gatherings, processions banned for 7 days in Faisalabad n Shehbaz Sharif,
Asif Zardari condemn attacks on churches in Jaranwala.
Gutted by attacks, PM warns of stern action against those who target minorities.
JARANWALA/LAHORE/ISLAMABAD - Angry mob vandalised at least eight churches and several homes following accusations of blasphemy in Jaranwala neighbourhood of Faisalabad district. Police said more than 100 people were arrested for their involvement in riots over desecration of the Holy Quran.
A Punjab government spokesperson in a statement said that the provincial government had also ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident. Earlier, interim Punjab Information Minister Amir Mir stated that “dozens of people who disturbed peace” in the area were detained. In a statement, the minister said that the violence in Jaranwala was done under a well-thought-out conspiracy.
“There was a plan to disturb the peace by inciting public sentiments. After the desecration of the Holy Quran, the angry protesters reacted strongly,” Mir said, adding that the situation in Faisalabad is fully under control now.
The provincial minister also said that the investigation into the tragic incident of the desecration of the holy book is underway at a fast pace, adding that anyone who tries to take the law into his hands would be arrested immediately. More than 6,000 policemen and Rangers personnel are present in the affected areas, he added.
As the law and order situation worsened in Faisalabad, the Government of Punjab called in Armed Forces of the Pakistan Rangers to deescalate the situation. Churches and surrounding Christian settlements were vandalised and ransacked at Jaranwala road district Faisalabad, Punjab after a Christian man was accused of blasphemy. The police reached at the spot to control the deteriorating law and order situation in the area. “An FIR has been lodged and we are trying to control the situation at this moment,” a local police official told reporters.
Faisalabad Deputy Commissioner (DC) Ali Anan Qamar strictly prohibited public gatherings, meetings and processions under section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in Faisalabad.
A spokesman for district administration said here on Wednesday that after observing severe law and order situation due to the alleged incident of desecration of the Holy Quran in Tehsil Jaranwala, the DC immediately imposed ban on all kinds of
assemblies, gatherings, sit-ins, rallies, processions, demonstrations, protests, firing, burning of any public/private buildings and such like other activities within the territorial jurisdiction of Faisalabad district.
This order shall come into force with immediate effect and remain in force for 7 days, he added. According to a police report, two Christian men were arrested by local police in the town of Jaranwala on the grounds of “desecrating the holy Quran. The report stated that the men had been booked under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
Multiple churches including the town’s Catholic Church, the Salvation Army Church and the Pentecostal Church, as well as the local Christian colony, were also vandalised and set on fire, Talib told reporters.
In a statement Wednesday, the assistant commissioner for Faisalabad, where the town is located, called for the deployment of armed forces to support enforcing law and order, describing the situation as “sensitive and vulnerable.”
Riina Kionka, the EU ambassador to Pakistan, said the reports were “disturbing.”
“The degree to which a society’s minorities feel safe, in Pakistan, in the European Union, around the world, is a measure of respect for the rule of law, for tolerance of diversity, a core EU value,” she posted on X on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, 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 stern 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 prime minister wrote on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.
He was responding to a post on X by President Bishop Church of Pakistan Bishop Azad Marshall, who highlighted an incident of attack on a church and torturing of Christians on blasphemy accusations in Jaranwala. The prime minister said that all law enforcement agencies had 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,” he remarked.
BILAWAL CONDEMNS ATTACK
Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday strongly condemned the incidents in Jaranwala and said that he was saddened to hear about the attack on Churches in Jaranwala, Faisalabad.
Chairman PPP wrote on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, ”Violating the sanctity of places of worship is absolutely unacceptable. The administration must ensure the safety of the Christian community and their Churches.”
Meanwhile, in a statement was also issued from the media cell Bilawal House, in which he expressed concern over the deteriorating law and order situation in Jaranwala.
He urged that all resources should be utilized for overcoming religious tensions in Jaranwala and establishing peace. “The reports of provocations received from Jaranwala are disturbing,” he regretted.
Bilawal Bhutto said that PPP is the torch bearer of religious harmony and protection of people belonging to all faiths in the country.
ZARDARI CONDEMNS JARANWALA INCIDENT
President Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) Asif Ali Zardari has strongly condemned the Jaranwala incident.
In a statement issued here by the party secretariat, Asif Zardari said that the incident should be investigated.
He further said that in our religion, Islam, it is taught that places of worship should be respected. The spread of terror and chaos in the country should be discouraged, he said.
Such a madness can’t be allowed, Pakistan belongs to all: Shehbaz
Mian Shehbaz Sharif has condemned the Church attack in Jaranwala and said it was 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”, the former PM said in a tweet. He urged the government to take action against the culprits and also appealed to Ulema and religious scholars from all schools of thought to come forward and condemn the reprehensible actions. “Such a madness cannot be allowed. Pakistan belongs to all religious minorities”, he observed.