ISLAMABAD: Leaders of various religions and factions, as well as political and religious parties, issued a joint declaration on Wednesday demanding that the federal and Punjab governments rebuild and rehabilitate the vandalised churches and homes of Jaranawala’s Christian community.
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In addition, the ‘Interfaith Harmony Conference’ demanded that the provincial government award and sanction the perpetrators of the Jaranwala tragedy, as well as conduct an impartial investigation.
At a conference organised by the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC), religious leaders and representatives referred to the Jaranwala calamity as “sheer cruelty” not against the Christian community but against Pakistan.
Dr. Qibla Ayaz, the chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, stated, “We are ashamed of this incident” and demanded that a special tribunal investigate this incident day and night so that the perpetrators are not only punished but also fined.
PUC Chairman Hafiz Mohammad Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi stated that the Jaranwala calamity was a tragic and repugnant act, but that the most important thing is to realise that such incidents should not occur and that we must devise a mechanism to prevent them from happening again.
The joint declaration also stated that a committee comprised of Muslim and Christian leaders would investigate the calamity of Jaranwala.
The participant hailed the efforts of interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar, Army Chief General Asim Munir, and Justice Qazi Faiz Isa as a glimmer of hope for the nation’s fight against extremism.
The declaration stated that the leadership of all relevant religions would cooperate with the authorities in the investigation of the Jaranwala tragedy, and that the findings of the investigation should be made public.
It also stated that conferences and gatherings on interreligious and interfaith harmony would be conducted across the nation, and that people would be given guidance on interreligious harmony and blasphemy laws.
In the meantime, Catholic bishops have expressed concern regarding the Jaranwala incident.
The Bishops of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (PCBC) have expressed shock and sorrow over the attack, burning, and desecration of ‘churches, the Holy Cross, and the Holy Bible’ as well as the burning and vandalising of the homes of Christian families who had nothing to do with the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran.
“We, the Bishops, of Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, reiterate that the Christian community in Pakistan has repeatedly demonstrated its fidelity to Pakistan. However, incidents such as the burning of Christian homes in Shantinagar, Joseph Colony, Kot Radha Kishan, Yohanabad, among others, and now Jaranwala demonstrate that the Christian community can be threatened and intimidated at will,” said a statement.