FAISALABAD - Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman and International Faith Harmony Council President Hafiz Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi said that Pakistan Ulema Council had decided to form a 20-member committee with Christian leaders to review the Jaranwala tragedy from all the aspects in addition to supervise the restoration and rehabilitation work of the affected houses, buildings and churches of Christians.
Talking to media persons in a press conference at Jaranwala on Saturday, he said the incident was not an attack on the Christians but it was an attack on Pakistanis. “The attackers have shamed us for which I apologize to the Christians of all over the world including Pakistan”, he added. He said, “I was traveling when I saw the pictures of Christian daughters spending the night in the fields. The tears came out from my eyes as I felt that these were not Christian daughters but these were my own daughters”.
He said that the Christian and Muslim leaders had equally condemned the Jaranwala incident as it was the worst example to terror and horror. He, however, appreciated the role of those Pakistanis and Muslims who tried to save Christian residences and churches on August 16 and said that now a 20-member committee would be formed. “I and Bishop Azad Marshall will supervise the committee which would work to review all aspects of the incident in addition to rehabilitation work on a daily basis.” The lawyers would also be included in this committee to investigate the tragedy from the legal point of view, he said and added that the committee would also investigate that why such incidents occur after every two or three months.
He, however, expressed his dismay that if the perpetrators of Joseph Colony and other incidents had been punished, the tragedy might not have happened. “The incidents of Shanti Nagar and Sialkot are enough to open our eyes as when horror and terror arise, they do not see whether Muslims or Christians are affected from it”, he added.
Tahir Ashrafi said, “Today we visited some areas of Christian Colony where the electricity supply was still suspended. I immediately sent a message to the caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan and he issued necessary directions to provide all necessary facilities including the supply of electricity in Christian localities of Jaranwala on a top priority basis”, he added.
He said that the 20-member committee would supervise the entire rehabilitation process in Christian localities Jaranwala. “The government had promised to provide all missing facilities to the affectees and if it failed to do so, we would fill up the gap immediately. We would remain in close liaison with bishops and Muslim scholars of the area to promote peace and tranquility in addition to completing rehabilitation of the affected people although we will have to visit Jaranwala hundred times for this purpose,” he added.
He appreciated the statement of Pak Army Chief and visit of Justice Qazi Faez Isa and said that it was a good gesture that our future Chief Justice had proved by visiting the affected area that justice would be provided on the doorsteps of the masses. He said, “As Justice Qazi Faez Isa has made an appeal for the affectees, I also appeal to the business community of the country especially Muslim businessmen to come forward and support the Christian brethren so that the soft image of the country could be promoted by foiling nefarious designs of anti-state elements.”
Response to a question, Tahir Ashrafi said that the government and the police were investigating the incident and demanded the investigation report should be brought before the nation within next 24 hours. On this occasion, he also announced providing dowry to a Christian girl, Sundas, who complained that her dowry items had damaged during the riots. Earlier, a 50-member delegation consisting of Muslim and Christian leaders of Pakistan Ulema Council, International Interfaith Harmony Council, Churches of Pakistan and Catholic Church of Pakistan visited Jaranwala and inspected the burnt churches and Christian houses.