Faisalabad: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar embraces a man during the ceremony held to distribute cheques among the Christian community, whose homes were destroyed in Jaranwala, on Monday.—PPI
Faisalabad: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar embraces a man during the ceremony held to distribute cheques among the Christian community, whose homes were destroyed in Jaranwala, on Monday.—PPI

TOBA TEK SINGH: Interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar on Monday visited Jaranwala, days after violent mobs destroyed dozens of houses and churches over allegations of blasphemy, to express solidarity with the Christian community and distribute compensation cheques among families whose houses were burnt down by the frenzied mob.

According to estimates compiled by Faisalabad’s district administration, at least 22 churches ransacked by mobs suffered damages to the tune of Rs29.1 million whereas 91 houses which bore the brunt of violence suffered losses to the tune of Rs38.5 million. The administration forwarded this report to the provincial government. The list of items destroyed by the mob included fans, air-conditioners, water filter plants, generators, carpets, furniture, and other electrical appliances.

During his speech in Jaranwala on his first official visit anywhere in the country, the interim premier said it was the duty of the state to protect the lives and properties of religious minorities. “It is the responsibility of the government to ensure the safety of every citizen,” PM Kakar said.

The interim PM stressed the need for interfaith unity and said anyone found committing injustices with minorities would have to face the consequences from the state. “Extremism has nothing to do with any religion, language or region,” the premier remarked.

PM visits blighted town, hands out compensation to victims of violence

“The Christian community played an important role in the creation of Pakistan and it is the responsibility of every Muslim to protect the minority community.” The premier distributed cheques for Rs2 million each among the members of the Christian community whose houses were destroyed during the violence.

Hunt for suspects underway

During the ceremony, Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi said police were hunting suspects with the help of CCTV footage and geo-fencing, adding that culprits would have to face punishment under the law.

He said whatever damage the churches suffered, they would be restored to their original condition within days and handed over to their respective administrations.

He announced that financial assistance would be provided to each victim.

According to a handout, the CM conveyed that the dedication towards “aiding the community is unwavering”.

He vowed neither the prime minister nor the CM would simply “make fleeting appearances” as the government would be persistent in its engagements.

The chief minister assured that substantial efforts were being “exerted to ensure a just resolution for the Christian community, with visible results expected in the near future”.

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2023

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