By Jawad Mazhar, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent for reporting from Pakistan)
KASUR, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti said Sunday, July 5, he has “successfully reconciled’” Muslims and Christians in a tense village in Punjab province where over a dozen people were injured when angry mobs torched at least 100 Christian homes and churches this week.
I had been sent [Saturday July 4] by the Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani to look into the matter and ensure that peace is restored and a truce is reached between the rival Christian-Muslim communities,” Bhatti told Worthy News and its partner agency BosNewsLife after touring the village of Bahmani in Kasur District.
“Islam and Christianity teach to co-exist with peace and harmony,” added the minister, an outspoken Christian, who held talks with community leaders. He said each affected Christian family would receive 100,000 Pakistani Rupees ($1,260) in compensation.
Bhatti and other officials several of the estimated 100 houses and churches that were set ablaze July 1 by angry Muslims after a Muslim cleric accused Christian residents of blasphemy, residents said earlier.
At least nine women and four children were injured when acid were thrown at them, witnesses said. They were later rescued by rights activists and received medical treatment, officials told Worthy News.
Bhatti stressed that the area has to be “purged of the elements that have malign intentions to spread hatred among Pakistani citizen” and that people of all religions should live in peace.
The minister said he had told locals that although Pakistan is a mainly Muslim nation, even Pakistan’s founder Quid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah “lauded efforts and sacrifices of Christians during the struggle of independence of Pakistan.”
He and other delegates urged residents to “bury the hatred and intolerance.” The clashes in Bahmani, just outside the provincial capital Lahore, has underscored international concerns over rising Islamic extremism in Pakistan.