Interfaith harmony essential to Quaid's vision: Gen Munir

Army chief lauds Christian community's contribution to the country's defence, education sectors

By Web Desk
September 25, 2023
Army Chief General Asim Munir poses for a photograph with members of the Christian community at the GHQ in Rawalpindi on September 25, 2023. — Radio Pakistan/

RAWALPINDI: Army Chief General Asim Munir on Monday met Pakistan's Christian community members and stressed the significance of promoting interfaith harmony as part of Quaid-i-Azam's vision, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Monday.

As per an official statement issued by the army's media wing, a 14-member Christian community delegation, led by Dr Azad Marshall — Moderator, President Bishops (Church of Pakistan and Bishop of Raiwind) — called on the chief of the army staff (COAS) at THE General Headquarters (GHQ) Rawalpindi.

Discussing matters pertaining to religious and inter-faith harmony, Gen Munir expressed deep respect for the Christian community and lauded their contributions to national development, including the promotion of quality education, healthcare and philanthropic services and the outstanding role played by them for the defence of the motherland.

The COAS also stressed the need to promote greater interfaith harmony in society to follow Quaid's true vision of a united and progressive Pakistan, the ISPR press release read.

“Islam is a religion of peace and there is no space for intolerance and extremism in Islam and society. No one can be allowed to take law into his own hands in a civilised society,” the army chief said.

Meanwhile, the Christian community members acknowledged the Pakistan Army's efforts in combatting terrorism and providing a secure environment for the minorities in the country.

The delegation lauded the army chief’s gesture as an inspiration for the Pakistani minorities to take a greater and more active part in nation-building and in restoring their faith in a cohesive and tolerant society.

'No space for intolerance': COAS on Jaranwala incident

The meeting comes in the backdrop of the "Jaranwala incident" where a mob vandalised several churches and set scores of houses on fire after a few miscreants made announcements in mosques inciting the mob to attack under allegations of blasphemy in Jaranwala town, Faisalabad.

The incident which took place on August 16 sparked outrage on social media and among political and religious figures in the country, who condemned the incident, saying that there was no room for such extreme behaviour.

Condemning the incident as “extremely tragic and totally intolerable”, COAS Gen Munir stressed that “there is no space for such incidents of intolerance and extreme behaviour”.

“The Jaranwala incident is extremely tragic and totally intolerable. There is no space for such incidents of intolerance and extreme behaviour by any segment of the society against anyone, particularly against minorities,” the army chief was quoted by the ISPR as saying last month.

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar had also censured the incident and assured of strict action against the perpetrators. The premier had distributed cheques of Rs2 million each among the members of the Christian community whose houses were destroyed due to mob violence.

Separately, Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa had also visited Jaranwala to "express solidarity" with the Christian community.

In a bid to probe the tragic incident in Faisalabad's Jaranwala, foster interfaith and interdenominational unity, and quell 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 under charges of terrorism and blasphemy including 13 other provisions, against the arsonists in Jaranwala, in which 37 suspects were nominated and more than 600 unidentified people were included in the investigation.

Addressing the possibility of "external involvement" in the incident, Punjab Inspector General Police (IGP) Dr Usman Anwar had revealed that "hostile agencies" were linked to the Jaranwala incident which involved violent attacks.

A three-member SC bench comprising Justice Ijaz-Ul-Ahsan, Justice Muneeb Akhtar and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail is hearing the case after minority leader Samuel Pyaray moved the SC under a miscellaneous petition, to take notice of the Jaranwala tragedy.