HYDERABAD: Representatives of the Commission for Inter-Faith Harmony have urged Chief Justice of Pakistan, Chief of Army Staff and other government functionaries to form a commission to probe the tragic Jaranwala incident.

Fathers Danial Fayaz, Jamil Albert, Shahzad Khokhar, James Castloino and others said at a press conference at local press club on Friday that if perpetrators of such crimes had been punished in the past, the Jaranwala incident would not have occurred.

They said that Christian community had always condemned incidents of violence against any community or desecration of sacred things.

They said that properties of 70 poor families were burnt down, damaged and looted and 21 churches were ransacked during rampage in Jaranwala. A mindset existed in the country, which needed to be resisted and everyone would have to rise to the occasion, they said.

Later, they staged a protest demonstration outside the press club.

Meanwhile, members of Masih Ittehad Council of Pakistan staged a demonstration outside the press club against the Jaranwala tragedy.

The council president Maqbool Masih Kohkhar, Allama Masood Jamal of Anjuman Taraqqi Pasand Musannifeen and others who led the protest said that religious minorities had always been targeted in the country over the past 76 years.

They said that promises made at the time of independence of the country were never honoured. Christian elders voted for the country and their vote was used to get a larger part of Punjab for Pakistan but the community was forgotten afterwards, they deplored.

They said that religious minorities did not have equal rights in the country and urged caretaker prime minister, Chief Justice of Pakistan, COAS and human rights bodies to ensure protection to the Christian community.

SHRC wants SC verdict enforced in Sindh

The Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) chairperson Iqbal Ahmed Detho on Friday recommended to Chief Secretary of Sindh to implement landmark Supreme Court judgement in letter and spirit to preempt a Jaranwala like incident in Sindh.

He said in a statement issued here on Friday the SC’s verdict was passed on June 19, 2014, on a suo motu notice of suicide bombing on a church in Peshawar and threats to Kalash tribe and Ismaili community in Chitral.

He said that despite the fact that Constitution zealously safeguarded rights of religious minorities and preamble to the Constitution explicitly provided “adequate provision shall be made for the minorities to freely profess and practice their religions and develop their cultures”, religious minorities were not safe.

He said that the judgement observed that appropriate curricula be developed for school and college levels to promote a culture of religious and social tolerance and a “special police force be raised to protect places of worship of minorities”.

Detho said: “The SHRC recommends to your (CS) office that the SC judgement dated June 19, 2014, authored by former Chief Justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani should be implemented in Sindh in letter and spirit”. Security of places of worship and residential areas of religious minorities be enhanced, he urged.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2023

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