Governments in the West must intervene to demand justice be done for the victims of the “worst incident of persecution against Christians” in Pakistan – according to a priest who was on the scene when the atrocity took place.
Father Abid Tanveer, Vicar general of the Diocese of Faisalabad, said international pressure is vital to ensure the prosecution of the culprits behind the attacks in Jaranwala, Punjab Province.
Media reported that on a single day a mob of 7,000 people went on the rampage in Jaranwala, and Father Tanveer said they attacked a total of 26 churches and chapels, as well as a cemetery and hundreds of homes.
The bishops of Pakistan described the violence as “the worst incident against Christians” in the country’s history.
In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Father Tanveer said an economically faltering Pakistan would be open to calls made by Western powers on whom it depends for trade and aid.
Father Tanveer described encountering the “anger and hatred” of the mob as he entered the Jaranwala on the day of the atrocity and said: “Unless justice is done, the victims of Jaranwala will never find closure. They will never feel safe.”
“Governments in the West should call for justice. The Government in Pakistan will listen to the West because they need them in terms of aid and trade.
“The West should write to our government and ask why Christians in our country are being persecuted and what are they doing about it.
Father Tanveer highlighted concerns of corruption within Pakistan’s legal system, saying there was a “50/50 chance” justice would be done for the victims of Jaranwala.
He said the Christians of Jaranwala and elsewhere were still afraid: “Jaranwala has revealed how far the extremists are prepared to go in terms of destroying homes and churches.”
The priest added: “There remains an underlying fear that many people have. They are always wondering where and when the next attack will come.”
Father Tanveer went on to thank ACN for last week’s announcement of emergency help for Jaranwala Christians whose homes were damaged in the violence.
The charity is providing clothes, kitchen appliances, bedding, mattresses and stationery for school children.
Father Tanveer said: “For many years, ACN has been a great help to our diocese and especially so after this incident in Jaranwala.
“From the bottom of our hearts we want to pay tribute to the staff and benefactors of ACN. Please be assured of our grateful prayers.”