Chief of Army Staff Gen Asim Munir on Monday commended the Christian community’s contributions to Pakistan’s national development and praised their “outstanding” role in defending the motherland.
The army chief made these remarks during a meeting with President Bishops (Church of Pakistan and Bishop of Raiwind) along with a 13-member delegation of the Christian Community who called on him at the General Headquarters, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.
The meeting comes a month after a violent mob of hundreds ransacked and torched nearly two dozen churches, attacked the residences of members of the Christian community and the office of the local assistant commissioner in Jaranwala, sparking nationwide outrage and condemnation.
COAS Munir had denounced the attacks on churches a day later and vowed no leniency for “intolerance and extreme behaviour”.
“It’s imperative for the people to discern the difference between truth, half-truth, lies, misinformation and disinformation,” he had said.
In a more recent development on Saturday, two human rights activists, who were part of the Christian community and had travelled from Karachi to Faisalabad, were reportedly subjected to a brief detention and alleged mistreatment by the police. In response, police countered the claims, accusing the duo of misconduct.
The incident was brought to light by lawyer and human rights activist Jibran Nasir on Friday through a series of posts on X (formerly Twitter).
Today, the Christian community delegation called on the army chief and discussed matters of “mutual interest, religious and inter-faith harmony”, according to the ISPR.
The ISPR quoted the army chief as lauding “the contributions of the Pakistani Christian Community in national development, including promotion of quality education, healthcare and philanthropic services and the outstanding role played by them for the defence of the motherland”.
While expressing “deep respect” for the Christian community, the army chief stressed the need to promote greater interfaith harmony in society in order to “follow Quaid’s true vision of a united and progressive Pakistan”.
“Islam is a religion of peace and there is no space for intolerance and extremism in Islam and society. No one can be allowed to take law into his own hands in a civilised society,” COAS Munir remarked.
In response, the visiting delegation acknowledged the Pakistan Army’s efforts in combating terrorism and providing a secure environment for the minorities in the country.
“They appreciated the army chief’s gesture as an inspiration for Pakistani minorities to take greater and more active part in nation building and in restoring their faith in a cohesive and tolerant society,” the ISPR added.