The caretaker Punjab government on Sunday approved Rs. 2 million each in compensation for the 94 families affected by the mob violence in Faisalabad’s Jaranwala district last week, which has drawn mass outrage and calls for speedy justice to discourage such incidents in future.
Chairing a meeting of his interim cabinet at a church—a first in the history of Punjab—during a visit to the affected area, caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi said the relief checques would be distributed to the victims of the Jaranwala violence within the next two to three days. He also met members of a peace committee—comprising members of various religions and sects—formed after the incident.
Speaking with media after the meeting, Naqvi confirmed the approval of the compensation amount, adding that Muslim scholars of the peace committee had said they were ready to allow Christians to worship in mosques. “I just had a meeting with peace Committee Jaranwala in which the religious leaders said that Christians can use their mosques for worship if they have no suitable place due to damage to their churches,” he said, stressing this was a “good message” that would help “pacify and control” the situation that arose after the Aug. 16 violence.
Describing the Jaranwala incident as a “big tragedy,” he said the government stood with its Christian brothers in this difficult time. “The peace committee would also play its dynamic role in addressing ill effects of this tragedy by promoting love and affection among both communities,” he claimed, adding that two of the 20 churches damaged by the mob violence had been restored, while work was underway on the remainder.
“I also visited one of the churches where rehabilitation work was completed,” he said, noting some of the repair work had been temporarily halted, because the management had proposed some changes and improvements in their design. He clarified that the government would bear all expenses of the churches’ rehabilitation, adding he would continue to visit Jaranwala until all pending issues had been resolved.
“Pakistan belongs to every Pakistani whether they are Muslim, Christian, Sikh, or Hindu. All are one. I am with the oppressed and every oppressor will have to face the punishment under the law,” Naqvi vowed, adding none of the accused involved in the Jaranwala riots would be spared.
In a subsequent press release, caretaker Information Minister Amir Mir said the rights of individuals with affiliations to various faiths would be safeguarded at all costs, while those who engaged in “mistreatment” would be made an example of. Reiterating that the “instigators” of the violence would soon be made public, he said the government was committed to “ensuring the rights of minority communities.”