- Vandalism in Jaranwala: Churches targeted over blasphemy claims, dozens detained.
- Punjab Minister cites planned conspiracy; situation under control; investigation ongoing.
- Leaders’ condemnations: Shehbaz Sharif, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari urge action, unity.
Following allegations of blasphemy that sparked unrest in Jaranwala, Faisalabad, Interim Punjab Information Minister Amir Mir declared on Wednesday the apprehension of numerous individuals who disrupted peace in the area.
Mir stated that the violence in Jaranwala was a result of a meticulously planned conspiracy. He revealed that there had been a deliberate effort to incite public sentiment and disrupt peace.
The incident was triggered by the desecration of the Holy Quran, which led to intense reactions from enraged protestors. However, Mir emphasized that the situation in Faisalabad is now fully under control.
The interim provincial information minister also highlighted that a swift investigation is underway concerning the distressing incident of the holy book’s desecration. He warned that immediate arrests against anyone attempting to take the law into their own hands.
Law enforcement authorities have taken robust measures to protect churches, deploying a significant contingent of over 6,000 policemen and Rangers officers to be stationed in the affected regions.
Mir further reassured that no casualties or injuries occurred in the recent incidents. He noted that the Chief Secretary and Inspector General of Punjab Police dispatch to Jaranwala on the instructions of the caretaker Chief Minister, Mohsin Naqvi.
Expressing his concern, Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar instructed law enforcement agencies to apprehend those responsible for vandalizing churches in Jaranwala. In a statement on the platform X, Kakar expressed his distress over the visuals from the incident and promised stern action against law violators and those targeting minority communities.
I am gutted by the visuals coming out of Jaranwala,#Faisalabad. Stern action would be taken against those who violate law and target minorities. All law enforcement has been asked to apprehend culprits and bring them to justice. Rest assured that the government of Pakistan stands… https://t.co/GHWUGA1NNq
— Anwaar ul Haq Kakar (@anwaar_kakar) August 16, 2023
The interim premier directed to enforce law agencies and conveyed to arrest the culprits. He emphasized the government’s commitment to stand with all citizens on an equal basis.
Former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also condemned the disturbing incident, underscoring the importance of respecting religious places and figures. Shehbaz urged the government to take decisive action against the wrongdoers and called upon religious scholars from various schools of thought to denounce the reprehensible actions.
What is happening in Jaranwala is sad and disturbing. There is no place for violence in any religion. All religious places, Holy Books and personages are sacred and deserve our highest level of respect. I urge the government to take action against the culprits. I also appeal to…
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) August 16, 2023
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari joined in condemning the incident. Expressing horror over the attack on churches in Jaranwala. Bilawal stressed the necessity of ensuring the safety of the Christian community and their places of worship.
Horrified to hear about the attack on Churches in Jaranwala, Faisalabad, Violating the sanctity of places of worship is absolutely unacceptable. The administration must ensure the safety of the Christian community and their Churches.
— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) August 16, 2023
The unsettling event unfolded when a crowd targeted several churches and set numerous houses ablaze following allegations of blasphemy against members of the Christian community. The incident transpired in Jaranwala town within the industrial district of Faisalabad. Authorities have deployed paramilitary troops to restore order and handle the volatile situation.
Social media posts depicted the destruction, with images of churches engulfed in flames and abandoned houses being looted. Christian leader Akmal Bhatti shared that multiple churches were set on fire, and valuables were looted from abandoned homes, as a result of provocative announcements made in local mosques.
— Faraz Pervaiz (@FarazPervaiz3) August 16, 2023
Not only have we destroyed a Church in #Jaranwala but we are destroying the white part of Pakistan’s flag + Jinnah’s dream of a pluralistic 🇵🇰. Inaction by the state emboldens extremists to kill minorities with impunity. Today its them tomorrow it will be us frm the majority.… pic.twitter.com/zfNKJnOA0W
— Muhammad Hanzala (@Hanzalamalik97) August 16, 2023