ISLAMABAD/Karachi - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday strongly condemned the brutal murder of a Christian couple in Kot Radha Kishan and termed it "an unacceptable crime".

"A responsible state cannot tolerate mob rule and public lynching with impunity," the PM said according to media reports.

"I have directed the Punjab chief minister to show no mercy, and law should take its course to punish those who are responsible for this act," the premier remarked.

He said Pakistani state has to act pro-actively to protect its minorities from violence and injustice and to promote inter faith harmony among various religions.

According to police, an enraged mob had beaten a Christian couple to death and burnt their bodies in the brick kiln where they worked for allegedly desecrating a copy of the Holy Quran.

The incident had taken place at the town of Kot Radha Kishan, some 60 kilometres southwest of Lahore, and was the latest example of mob violence against minorities accused of blasphemy.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has constituted a three-member committee to fast track the investigation of the killings and ordered police to beef up security at Christian neighbourhoods in the province, an official from his media office said.

ALTAF FLAYS KOT RADHA KISHAN INCIDENT

MQM chief Altaf Hussain strongly condemned the brutal act of torching a couple to death at Kot Radha Kishan area the other day.

It is worth mentioning here that a Christian couple was burnt alive in a Kot Radha Kishan area a couple of days back after shedding religious facet to the personal conflict. In a statement issued in Karachi on Wednesday, Altaf said that such prejudice incidents are on the rise especially in Punjab. He said it was a matter of routine that the minorities, including Christians, Hindus and Sikhs are being targeted to protect personal interests.

The MQM chief said that such incidents were the outcome of religious extremism in the country. He demanded that the elements involved in the incident should be brought to justice. He also demanded the government to take measures ensuring safety of the minorities, especially Christians, who were unfortunately being targeted under religious hatred. He sympathised with the victim families.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL ASKS PAKISTAN TO PROTECT MINORITY COMMUNITIES

LONDON: Global rights watchdog Amnesty International has asked Pakistan to bring those responsible for the killing of a Christian couple, accused of blasphemy, to justice.

"Those responsible must be brought to justice and the Pakistani authorities have to ensure at-risk communities are proactively given the protection they need. "This vicious mob killing is just the latest manifestation of the threat of vigilante violence which anyone can face in Pakistan after a blasphemy accusation, although religious minorities are disproportionately vulnerable," David Griffiths, Amnesty International's Deputy Asia Pacific said on October 4.

The Christian couple was thrashed and burnt alive by a group of angry Muslims in Punjab province for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran.

The horrific crime was reported from the village of Kot Radha Kishan of Kasur district, some 50 km from Lahore. "This type of violence is fuelled by Pakistan's repressive blasphemy laws, which add to the climate of fear for religious minorities. A mere accusation of blasphemy is often enough to put a person and their wider community in danger, Griffiths said.

Amnesty said that consistent failure by the government to tackle violence in the name of religion has effectively sent the message that anyone can commit outrageous abuses and excuse them as defence of religious sentiments. "The local government's response is encouraging but it remains to be seen what comes of the investigation".

"The climate of impunity around violence against religious minorities in Pakistan is pervasive, and it is all too rare that those behind attacks are held to account," said David Griffiths.