Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir has said that Islam and civilised society have no room for intolerance and extremism.
“There is no space for intolerance and extremism in Islam,” he said while talking to a 13-member delegation of the Christian community, led by Bishops Church of Pakistan President Dr Azad Marshall, which called on him in Rawalpindi on Monday. “No one can be allowed to take law into their own hands.”
In the recent past, several incidents of attacks on the Christian community have been reported. A violent mob of hundreds ransacked and torched nearly two dozen churches and attacked the residences of members of the Christian community following an alleged incident of blasphemy in Jaranwala town of Faisalabad district on August 16.
Matters of mutual interest, religious and inter-faith harmony were discussed during the meeting, according to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations.
The army chief stressed the need for promoting greater interfaith harmony in society to follow Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s “true vision of a united and progressive Pakistan”.
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While expressing respect for the Christian community, COAS Munir lauded their contributions to the national development, promotion of quality education, healthcare, philanthropy, and defence of the motherland.
The Christian community delegation acknowledged the Pakistan Army’s efforts in combating terrorism and providing a secure environment for the minorities in the country.
The military’s media wing said that the delegation appreciated the army chief’s gesture as an “inspiration” for Pakistani minorities to take a more active part in nation-building and in restoring their faith in a cohesive and tolerant society.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar in his visit to Jaranwala last month stated that it was the responsibility of the state to protect its citizens regardless of their religion, beliefs or ethnicity, he said: adding “if any minority in the country is attacked, you will see the state standing with the victims and helpless”.
An initial report of property loss stated that at least 19 churches and 86 houses were torched during the rampage after the Holy Quran was allegedly desecrated.
Police arrested 158 for their alleged involvement in ransacking the churches and homes of the Christian community, reports said on Saturday.