Lahore, October 24, 2023 - A consultative meeting regarding the aftermath of the Jaranwala incident was convened in Lahore, jointly organized by the Implementation of Minority Rights Forum (IMRF) and the Church of Pakistan. The event featured The Rt Rev Dr. Azad Marshall, Moderator of the Church of Pakistan and Bishop of Raiwind Diocese, as the keynote speaker. In attendance were eyewitnesses, victims of the Jaranwala incident, Christian lawyers, and members of civil society.
In his address, Bishop Marshall discussed the legal actions initiated by the churches and expressed gratitude to all churches, NGOs, Muslim allies, and individuals who stood by the victims' families during these trying times. He underscored the powerful message conveyed to the world that the Christian community in Pakistan can achieve much even in adversity, emphasizing the need for unity in noble endeavours.
Recognizing the vital role played by lawyers in Jaranwala, Bishop Marshall commended their dedication to pursuing justice and peace. He articulated the desire to establish a Women Lawyers Forum to address the specific challenges faced by Jaranwala’s female victims, with the Church pledging to cover all associated expenses. He highlighted the importance of educated Christian lawyers as representatives of their community.
During the meeting, Bishop Marshall encouraged participants to share their views and suggestions on attaining justice for the victims of Jaranwala.
Samuel Payara, Chairman of the IMRF and the event's organizer provided updates on the situation in Jaranwala. He commended the legal support and the Christ True Spirit (CTS) lawyer's team, which tirelessly worked to secure the release of innocent individuals unjustly arrested by the police. Payara also praised Bishop Marshall for filing the writ petition in the Lahore High Court, advocating for the formation of a Judicial Commission to investigate the Jaranwala incident.
Payara mentioned that their delegation had met with the President of Pakistan and Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Syed Asim Munir, regarding the Jaranwala case. COAS expressed deep respect and appreciation for the Christian community's contributions to Pakistan, particularly in the fields of medicine and education, and assured that injustice against Christians would not be tolerated.
Advocate Qaiser John, representing CTS, announced the successful cancellation of the bail for the main accused in FIR No. 1296/23, Rasheed Javed. This achievement was celebrated as a significant step forward, inspiring hope among Jaranwala's victims.
Several other participants, including Advocate Nadia Hameed, Lala Robin Daniel, Mr. Shakil (an eyewitness of the Jaranwala incident), Advocate Kashif Alexander, Advocate Kashif Naimat, Zaheer Abbas (Coordinator, Church of Pakistan), Advocate Adnan Shamim Bhatti, President of the Christian Lawyer Association of Pakistan, Advocate Rebeca, Dr. Riaz Assi, and Advocate Amir Niaz, shared their insights and recommendations on implementing preventive measures to ensure that incidents like Jaranwala do not recur in the future.
The meeting concluded with a collective commitment to work towards justice, unity, and the protection of minority rights in Pakistan.