RAWALPINDI: Army Chief General Asim Munir held a meeting on Monday with members of Pakistan’s Christian community, emphasizing the importance of promoting interfaith harmony in alignment with Quaid-i-Azam’s vision, according to a statement from the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
A 14-member delegation from the Christian community, led by Dr. Azad Marshall, Moderator, President Bishops (Church of Pakistan and Bishop of Raiwind), visited the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, as per the official army media wing.
During their discussions on religious and interfaith harmony, General Munir conveyed deep respect for the Christian community and commended their contributions to national development. This included their efforts to promote quality education, healthcare, philanthropic services, and their significant role in the defense of the nation.
COAS General Munir also emphasized the need for greater interfaith harmony in society to uphold Quaid’s true vision of a united and progressive Pakistan, according to the ISPR press release.
He stated, “Islam is a religion of peace, and there is no room for intolerance and extremism in Islam and society. No one can be allowed to take the law into their own hands in a civilized society.”
Meanwhile, members of the Christian community acknowledged the Pakistan Army’s efforts in combating terrorism and providing a secure environment for minorities in the country.
The delegation praised the army chief’s gesture as an inspiration for Pakistani minorities to take a more active role in nation-building and to restore their faith in a cohesive and tolerant society.
The meeting took place in the aftermath of the “Jaranwala incident,” in which a mob vandalized several churches and set numerous houses on fire following allegations of blasphemy in Jaranwala town, Faisalabad, on August 16. The incident drew condemnation from various quarters in Pakistan.
COAS Gen. Munir strongly condemned the incident at the time, emphasizing that there is no place for such acts of intolerance and extremism in society.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar had also censured the incident and promised strict action against the perpetrators. The Supreme Court Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa visited Jaranwala to express solidarity with the Christian community.
To address the Jaranwala incident, foster interfaith and interdenominational unity, and counter extremist narratives, the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) and Church of Pakistan jointly established a 24-member committee on August 20.
Authorities had registered two cases, including charges of terrorism and blasphemy, against the arsonists in Jaranwala. These cases named 37 suspects and included more than 600 unidentified individuals in the investigation.
Punjab Inspector General Police (IGP) Dr. Usman Anwar had revealed that “hostile agencies” were linked to the Jaranwala incident, which involved violent attacks.
The Supreme Court is also hearing the case, with a three-member bench addressing the matter after minority leader Samuel Pyaray filed a petition, calling for an investigation into the Jaranwala tragedy.
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