The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, has deplored the violence against the Christian community following recent outbreaks of violence in the Christian villages of Shantinagar and Khanewal in Punjab Province. He said that his Government would ensure the full protection and equal rights of minorities in Pakistan. He pledged that victims of the incident would be compensated and places of worship would be rebuilt at Government expense.
The President and the Prime Minister of Pakistan have now responded personally to a letter sent to them by the Bishop of Rochester, England, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Nazir-Ali who holds dual British and Pakistani citizenship. Dr Nazir-Ali had expressed his relief to both leaders that steps had been taken to restore law and order. He had also expressed his concern at the tendency in legislation to drive a wedge between Muslim and non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan. He also called for the monitoring of all educational establishments in the country to ensure that students are taught the values of tolerance, neighbourliness and national integration.
In response the President of Pakistan, H E Forooq Ahmad Khan Leghari, announced that he has set up an Enquiry Commission under Justice Tanveer Ahmed Khan. He also gave assurances that the rights of non-Muslim communities in Pakistan, as enshrined in the Constitution, would be respected. He condemned the violence in the strongest terms possible and added that he was providing immediate compensation and relief to the families affected.
The Prime Minister of Pakistan called the violence unpardonable and denounced it unequivocally. He promised to root out religious fanaticism from the nation and emphasised the disdain in which the majority of Muslims in Pakistan hold the activities of religious extremists. The Chief Minister of Punjab Province has visited the area to offer assurances to the Christian population, and the Prime Minister himself has also paid a personal visit to Shantinagar to see the rehabilitation in progress.