The Church of Pakistan is engaged with the government and law enforcement agencies for ensuring justice for the victims of the Jaranwala attacks as well as making efforts for rebuilding the lives of the poor Christians who suffered from senseless violence perpetrated in the name of religion.
A press release issued by the office of the president bishop of the Church of Pakistan, Bishop Azad Marshall, said that church leaders were working in collaboration with government officials to restore normalcy in the riot-hit town.
“The rioters have caused colossal losses to the poor Christian residents of Jaranwala. While we are grateful to God that there was no loss of life, the violence has left a large number of Christians practically homeless as their houses were vandalized and possessions looted or completely burnt. We look to God and our fellow Christians across the world to help us in restoring their lives,” the press statement quoted the bishop as saying.
According to the release, the CoP president bishop presided over services at two different churches in Jaranwala on Sunday where he spoke on perseverance with biblical references and encouraged all Christians, especially those who have suffered losses, to remain steadfast in their faith.
The church leaders, including bishops of the Church of Pakistan and leaders of The Salvation Army, also lit a candle together to express solidarity with the victims and give a message of hope to their community members.
The press statement said that during a brief meeting with Punjab’s Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi, Bishop Marshall and other leaders had strongly condemned the violent attacks on churches and homes and demanded exemplary punishment for the perpetrators.
“Bishop Marshall has also called for an end to ‘judicial apartheid’ and demanded fair application of laws on the majority and minority communities to prevent future incidents similar to those in Jaranwala,” it stated.
The church leader also called for substantial efforts for restoration of the churches.
“While approximately 20 churches continue to endure challenges without basic amenities, one church was singled out and minimally restored for the Chief Minister's visit to Jaranwala. The town, after facing immense tragedy and violence requires substantial efforts for recovery,” it quoted a tweet by the bishop.
The statement said that the Church of Pakistan and Pakistan Ulema Council have also formed a 24-member committee as part of their effort to address the tragic incident, investigate it, foster interfaith and interdenominational unity and quell extremist narratives. The committee will be co-chaired by Bishop Marshall and PUC Chairman Hafiz Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, it added.
“The Church of Pakistan assures its community members that we are standing with them in this difficult time and will not compromise on their interests. The president bishop has repeatedly called for a thorough investigation into the incident and emphasized on the need for bringing a strong deterrent against false allegations of blasphemy,” it concluded.