ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has reiterated his strong condemnation of the mob that brutally killed two men in the aftermath of the deadly church bombings in Lahore’s Youhanabad area, saying that the lynching witnessed on Sunday is “the worst form of terrorism”.
Nisar, speaking in the National Assembly on Tuesday, invoked the example of earlier attacks on imambargahs and mosques, and said that a violent mob reaction like that in Youhanabad was not witnessed in those incidents.
He condemned Sunday's Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan - Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (TTP-JA)-claimed attacks on two churches in Lahore and further said that such incidents occurred all over the world.
“A similar incident occurred right in the heart of Paris where a synagogue was attacked,” Nisar added, “But the minority Jews did not react violently in the French capital.”
While the federal minister acknowledged that minorities have been targeted in the country for the last 14 years, he added that heartrending incidents across the world do not trigger violent reactions like in Lahore.
Outline of Chaudhry Nisar’s address in Parliament:
- Those involved in Youhanabad lynching will be punished
- Not possible to secure every mosque, imambargah in the country
- Shafqat Hussain case should not be politicised
- Pakistan should become an open, liberal, independent and democratic society
- Nation will have to unite to send terrorists to hell
“Shias were attacked in Shikarpur and Quetta but no reaction was witnessed like the one in Lahore — what message did the burning of two men send to the world?” he said, adding that the burning of the two men and damage to government installations is the “worst form of terrorism”.
He added that the mob was promoting the agenda of terrorists. “The intention of the terrorists is to spread sectarian strife. Naeem was an innocent citizen,” Nisar said, referring to one of the lynched men who has been identified by his family.
Nisar expressed appreciation for the efforts of senior Christian leaders of Lahore to defuse the situation, but warned that strict action would be taken against those who lynched and burnt the two men. “The incident is a cause of humiliation for our country, police, courts and government.”
“We have recorded the faces of many culprits courtesy of the media, we shall take action against each and every one of them.”
He highlighted that the dead include “seven Muslims as well”, although he soon added, “I am giving this statement only to clarify the records since the death of one person, be it Muslim or Christian, is tantamount to the death of all humanity.”
'Impossible to secure all places of worship'
Nisar admitted that it was not possible for authorities to secure each mosque and place of worship in the country.
He said police did not have enough manpower to depute three to four personnel at every place of worship let alone schools.
"We cannot shutdown our markets, schools or places of worship. This is what the terrorists want. We have to become an open, liberal, independent and democratic society," said the federal interior minister adding that, "We have limitations, but there has been improvement."
He also appealed for focus to be shifted on the improvement which has taken place in the country rather than on individual incidents.
Nisar said that the country is in a state of war and the nation will have to unite and remain prepared for any threat.
He appreciated the efforts of the parliament in maintaining unison in the country and said that through the combined efforts of the nation the terrorists will be sent to hell.
Chaudjry Nisar Ali Khan also took the House into confidence over the progress made into the Shikarpur tragedy and said that two major culprits of the incident have been arrested with the close coordination of intelligence and security agencies.
He said others behind the incident are also on the target list of the security agencies.
At least 60 people were killed and 60 others injured in an explosion inside a central imambargah (mosque affiliated with Shia Muslims) in Sindh province's Shikarpur district
'Govt ready to consider proof in Shafqat Hussain case'
Earlier, the federal interior minister spoke about the issue pertaining to the execution of a condemned prisoner, Shafqat Hussain, saying that if any party or individual could come up with proof to ascertain that the criminal is a juvenile, the interior ministry will respond positively.
“The issue has caught so much attention that I would speak on it briefly in the House. On my right side, a political party that rules Sindh issued a formal statement on the matter two days ago. Another political party, which is not present here today, has also issued a formal statement.
There are many other political leaders who have expressed their views on this issue.”
“Everyone has the right to express their views and opinions. Every political party has the right of expression. But let us keep politics aside on this important issue," Nisar said.
He said the matter had first been brought to his attention in December, when Hussain's execution date had been decided. But he had the execution postponed because the moratorium on the death penalty had not been completely lifted at the time.
Hussain, a watchman at a residential complex, was condemned to death by a Karachi anti-terrorism court in September 2004 for abducting and killing a seven-year-old child and is said to have been juvenile at the time of committing the crime.
"I respect the reaction to the issue but I have to ask why the issue was not raised in and outside the courts when the ATC had handed down the punishment in 2004 or when the appeal was presented in a high court in 2006 and in the apex court in 2007," Nisar said.
He further asked as to why had anyone not questioned the rejection of the convict's appeal by the then president of Pakistan in 2012.
The federal interior minister said that the government had forwarded the proposal of conducting a DNA test of the prisoner and added that, "The Sindh government has written to us today that the DNA test of the convict cannot be conducted since it would negate all previous legal proceedings."
Also read: PPP for halting Shafqat’s execution
He said that if the PPP or any other party wants a stay on the execution then they should also advise a way to prove that the age of the convict recorded in the official documents is incorrect.
Nisar reminded that any action in this regard would have to be taken within the next 36 hours as Hussain is set to be executed on March 19.
He also said that, "The rights of the aggrieved party have to be considered as well, as the victim was a seven-year-old boy from Karachi, as well as a Pakistani."