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Bishop frustrated as there's still no justice after 20 churches set on fire

by Tola Mbakwe
Pakistan Jaranwala .jpg thumb.jpg - Banner image
Photo Credit: Aid to the Church in Need

A bishop in Pakistan has expressed his frustration with authorities who’ve failed to deliver justice for one of the most devastating attacks against Christians in the country's history.

More than seven months after the violent events in Jaranwala, Punjab, where over 20 churches were set ablaze and at least 100 Christian homes targeted, Bishop Indrias Rehmat of Faisalabad said that the more than 300 people arrested in connection with the attacks are gradually being released without charges.

The bishop also criticised the government's superficial repair efforts on three of the damaged churches.

He told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN): “I went to see the government’s work repairing damaged buildings but told them to stop. They wanted to show the media that everything was OK but they had just whitewashed the walls.

“They renovated three churches. The Prime Minister came and saw this. Still, I could smell the smoke. It is not safe to pray under these roofs.”

He added: “It is now more than seven months since the attack. We want justice. The culprits must be brought to justice and then it will be a lesson to others.”

Bishop Indrias acknowledged some government efforts toward compensating victims but stressed that much more support is needed. He stressed his community's growing fears as long-standing calls for justice remain largely unaddressed.

"We want justice. The culprits must be brought to justice and then it will be a lesson to others," he insisted.

The situation has drawn criticism from Pakistan's highest judicial authorities as well. The Supreme Court dismissed a report by the Punjab government on its response to the Jaranwala incident as insufficient and lacking detail, with Chief Justice Qazi Faiz Isa remarking it was “worth throwing in the trash”.

Adding to these challenges are recent court decisions, such as the acquittal of Christian brothers Rocky and Raja Masih from blasphemy charges—an allegation that had triggered the unrest in Jaranwala.

Despite these setbacks, Bishop Indrias highlighted ongoing efforts by local clergy and organisations like ACN to aid victims seeking justice and rebuild their lives. Renovation work has nearly completed on 150 homes affected by last August's violence.

Additionally, with support from ACN funding distributed just before Easter, families received food rations and household items; some will also receive motorbikes and autorickshaws to help them find employment.

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