Justice Isa pays solidarity visit to Jaranwala

Incoming CJP says mob's actions against Constitution, Islam

Our Correspondent August 19, 2023


Incoming chief justice of Pakistan Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Saturday visited Jaranwala tehsil in Faisalabad district to inquire after the local Christian community after 19 churches and several homes were torched in the neighbourhood by a mob enraged over blasphemy allegations.

Justice Isa, who is slated to lead the Supreme Court from Sept 17, a day after incumbent CJP Umar Ata Bandial’s retirement, was briefed by the police and district administration at Danish School.

On August 16, a charged mob, incited by the loudspeakers of mosques, stormed the neighbourhood ransacking and torching at least 19 churches and over 80 residences besides terrorising members of the Christian community.

Earlier that day, the Punjab police had booked at least three local Christians over blasphemy allegations and attempted to negotiate with the Muslim mob.

During his visit, Justice Isa said: “If anyone attacks churches, it is the responsibility of Muslims [to catch] the attackers.”

While speaking to members of the Christian community, the senior puisne SC judge said he did not “communicate with journalists” due to his profession. “It is the Muslims who should help you as they have the greatest responsibility.”

He asked, “Why leave everything to the state?”

He distributed food packets, which he acknowledged were akin to a “drop in the ocean” after asking a Christian leader to see who needed aid the most according to their financial status and accordingly disbursed them.

He inquired from local residents about which other areas were in need of help and asked to be taken there.

In a statement issued after his visit to Jaranwala, Justice Isa quoted verses from the Holy Quran and recalled events from history where Muslim religious leaders had shown respect to Christianity.

Muslims were told to stand up against those who harmed churches, he said.

Referring to articles 295 and 295-A of the Constitution of Pakistan, Justice Isa added that a person who “hurt the religious sentiments of anyone” is liable to be punished.

He stressed that the actions of the mob in Jaranwala were in violation of the Constitution and the teachings of Islam, which called for peace and tolerance.

Cleric being probed

A cleric is among a dozen people being investigated for using mosque loudspeakers to order protests against alleged blasphemy, a senior police official said.

"That cleric should have understood that when you gather people in such a charged environment... in a country in which people were already very sensitive about (blasphemy) it is like adding fuel to fire," Punjab IG Usman Anwar said.

"He's not saying that go and burn their houses. But when the mob gathers, it's really impossible to control that."

Committee proposed

Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) Chairman Hafiz Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi said that the council had decided to form a 20-member committee with Christian leaders to review the Jaranwala tragedy from all aspects and to supervise the restoration and rehabilitation work of the affected houses, buildings and churches of the affected minority.

Talking to media persons at a news conference at Jaranwala on Saturday, he said the incident was not an attack on the Christians but it was an attack on Pakistanis.

Judicial commission

Former Punjab minister for human rights and minority Affairs Ijaz Alam Augustine has called for setting up a judicial commission headed by a high court judge for a transparent investigation into the Jaranwala tragedy.


The Christian community staged a protest against the burning of their churches in one of the posh localities of Karachi – Teen Talvar, Clifton.

All vehicular traffic was diverted to other routes to assist the protest demonstration. However, people of the area faced immense difficulties in reaching their destinations due to the traffic jams.

The sit-in continued till the filing of this news story.


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