On PM’s directives, high-powered inquiry committee to investigate mob attacks in Jaranwala n Punjab CM claims both main accused now in CTD custody n Mohsin Naqvi says all churches and Christians’ homes will be restored within three to four days
n US says deeply concerned over attacks on Jaranwala churches.
FAISALABAD/LAHORE/ WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD - The Jaranwala city police Thursday claimed to have arrested 128 people by registering five cases against the elements involved in vandalism of churches and houses of Christian community over alleged desecration of Holy Quran in its limits.
A spokesperson for the Faisalabad Capital Police Office (CPO) said Thursday that the Jaranwala police division, after a heartbreaking incident of blasphemy of Holy Quran and vandalism of worship places, registered cases against people under different sections including terrorism act.
The police put security on high alert around worship places and residential localities of the minorities. He said that security of mosques, Imambargahs and churches was top priority of the district police and no one would be allowed to take the law into their hands. He said that the police were always ready to maintain law and order in the district. Also, Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi vowed to restore all the churches and Christians’ homes within three to four days that were ransacked and torched during the Jaranwala violence on Wednesday. Addressing a meeting on Thursday, which was attended by religious leaders of the Christian community, he condemned Wednesday’s violence and asserted that such incidents are anti-Islam and against the teachings of the Holy Prophet Mohammad [Peace Be Upon Him]. He said the mob-led attack was a conspiracy to light a fire in the country and sabotage its peace.
Bishop Lahore Nadeem Kamran also presented joint communique during the meeting and expressed resolve that Christian community will play its due role for peace in the country.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government ordered the formation of a high-level inquiry committee to investigate the incident, in line with directives issued by Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq.
Separately, in a statement, Punjab police said it had made over 100 arrests while the Jaranwala police booked over 600 people in two terror cases.
Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Moshin Naqvi on Thursday said that “both main accused” in Jaranwala rampage — when a mob torched several churches, ransacked Christian homes and vandalised a graveyard — were now in the custody of the Counter Terrorism Department.
“Major breakthrough in the Jaranwala Incident – both main accused now in CTD Custody. Appreciation for Chief Secretary Punjab and IG Punjab for their relentless efforts. Prime Minister’s unwavering concern guided us, driving the swift arrest process. Grateful for the trust he placed in our team, fueling record-time arrests.”
He also tweeted that he convened a crucial meeting with religious representatives to emphasise the essence of interfaith harmony. The Jaranwala incident raised numerous questions and exposed a conspiracy aimed at disrupting our nation’s unity. Let it be known to all conspirators that their efforts are destined to fail; we stand united, true to our Quaid’s vision. Chief Secretary Punjab and IG Punjab remained at the spot throughout the day and handled the situation on ground. As Pakistani, we all condemn the incident that took place in Jaranwala. We assure you that the conspirators and perpetrators will see the wrath of law very soon, he added.
Meanwhile, The United States has voiced deep concerns over attacks on churches and homes in Pakistani town of Jaranwala in Faisalabad district, following the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran, and called for an investigation.
“We are deeply concerned that churches and homes were targeted in response to reported Quran desecration in Pakistan,” State Department Spokesperson Vendant Patel told reporters at his daily press briefing on Wednesday, in response to a question from the correspondent of a private television channel.
“We support peaceful freedom of expression and the right to freedom of religion and belief for everybody,” the spokesperson said. “And as we have previously said, we are always concerned about incidents of religiously-motivated violence. Violence or the threat of violence is never an acceptable form of expression, and we urge Pakistani authorities to conduct a full investigation into these allegations and call for calm for all those involved.”
According to media reports, no loss of life was reported during the incident while police had made over 100 arrests so far. Moreover, it said, footage of the incidents was being analyzed through scientific methods and the Rangers too had been called to the area to help restore calm.
meanwhile, Pakistan yesterday said the attackers involved in the vandalising the Churches in Faisalabad will not be spared at any cost.
Speaking at a weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar had already strongly condemned the reprehensible incident that took place in Faisalabad where churches were targeted and that hurt the sentiments of Christians across the country. “These acts are illegal and unconstitutional. As a country of law and the Constitution, Pakistan cannot accept such intolerant and violent acts. Our law enforcement authorities took swift action yesterday. They have been instructed by the Prime Minister to apprehend the culprits and bring them to justice,” she added. The spokesperson said the individuals belonging to religious minorities were equal citizens of the state.
“As a multicultural and multifaith country, Pakistan is fully determined to protect and promote their constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms and to foster social harmony, tolerance and mutual respect,” she added.
With regards to the incident on the 13th of August in Gwadar, the FO spokesperson said, the attack of 13th August 2023 in Gwadar aimed to target Chinese nationals working on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project in Gwadar. “As a result of timely action by Pakistani security forces, the attack was foiled and the terrorists involved were killed,” she said.
Baloch said ensuring the safety and security of all Chinese personnel, projects and institutions remains a key priority for Pakistan. “Planners and perpetrators of this abhorrent act will be brought to justice. They will never succeed in their evil design to damage our bilateral ties with China. Nor can such abhorrent acts dampen the resolve of our two countries to further advance the all-encompassing bilateral cooperation, including under the ambit of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,” she maintained. She said in a communication addressed to the Government of India, UN special procedures for human rights have expressed serious concerns at the arrest, detention and charges against Kashmiri human rights defenders, Khurram Pervaiz and Irfan Mehraj. “The communication has been signed by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders; the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntarily Disappearances; the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Freedom and Peaceful Assembly and of Association; and the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,” she added.
Khurram Pervaiz, who is the Programme Coordinator of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCSS) and Irfan Mehraj, a researcher with JKCSS, are detained in Rohini prison in New Dehi, she mentioned. To a question, she said, Pakistan has always said that it would like to partner with all friendly countries to promote peace and dialogue in South Asia, Afghanistan and in the context of Pakistan-India relations. “We believe that Pakistan’s engagement with the United States on aspects of mutual concern has been quite productive and fruitful, as has been our dialogue with several other friendly countries in the region and outside the region,” she added.
About Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Haibatullah’s recent remarks, she said: “We have seen the statement. Pakistan welcomes all statements that would lead to cessation of terrorist activities against Pakistan. Pakistan has remained in contact with the Afghan interim authorities on issues of our concern, including the terrorist threat that Pakistan faces. We hope that the Afghan authorities will honour the commitments that they have made to the international community and Pakistan, including in the Trilateral Meeting that took place between the Foreign Ministers of Pakistan, Afghanistan and China in May this year.”
On sending Pakistan Cricket team to India, she said Pakistan believed that it was India’s “responsibility to provide fool-proof security and the right environment for our team to participate, an environment in which our players are able to participate without fear for their safety and without undue harassment by the spectators in the stands.”