On Thursday, interim Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi promised to “restore all churches and Christian homes” destroyed in the Jaranwala riots a day earlier within three to four days.
According to authorities and witnesses, paramilitary troops roped off a Christian village in eastern Pakistan after a Muslim mob vandalised and destroyed numerous churches and scores of houses after accusing two of its members of desecrating the Holy Quran.
Residents and community leaders said the attack took place in Jaranwala, Faisalabad’s industrial district, on Wednesday and lasted more than 10 hours without any intervention from police who were present.
Police refuted the accusation, claiming that security forces had averted a worse situation. Rioters demanded that the two accused, who had fled their homes, be returned to them.
During the rioting, thousands of Muslims led by local clerics were believed to be brandishing iron rods, clubs, knives, and daggers.
Speaking at a meeting today, Naqvi condemned the violence, saying it was against Islam and the teachings of the Holy Prophet.
He claimed the mob-led attack was part of a “planned conspiracy” to “light a fire in the country and sabotage its peace.”
“In the future, we should sit down with our minorities and devise a strategy to prevent such incidents,” he added.
Separately, a provincial government statement said paramilitary troops were deployed to aid the police to control the situation.
The troops have cordoned off the Christian colony, blocking all entry and exit points with barbed wire, according to a Reuters TV cameraman.
Over 100 people suspected of being involved in the rioting have been arrested, the government statement said, adding that an inquiry has also been ordered into the incident.
The United States was “deeply concerned that churches and homes were targeted,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said on Wednesday.