ISLAMABAD - Co-Chairman PPP and former president Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday strongly condemned incident in Kot Radha Kishan in Kasur of Punjab in which a mob killed a Christian couple at the brick kiln, saying exemplary punishment be made to the perpetrators of the crime under the law.

“The sheer barbarity of burning to death of a young couple along with their yet to be born child will continue to haunt thoughtful people even in a distant age and clime,” the former president said, expressing profound grief and shock and condemned it as ‘sheer barbarism’.  

“Mere condemnation and expression of grief and sorrow over the incident is not enough. We must move on and take practical measures to ensure that religion was not employed to shrink the space for citizens particularly the minorities,” he said in the statement.

He said a fundamental challenge to the human rights of citizens of our time is the worrying increase in religion and ideology based violence increasing the sense of insecurity.

The application of religion-based laws to settle personal scores has done disservice to religion itself that must be stopped, the former President said.

These are the challenges which the political parties, the human rights committees of the Parliament, the civil society and the progressive elements must address dispassionately, urgently and boldly.

 “Justice must not only be done but also be seen to be done,” said Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar, quoting former president, adding that a people may survive without professing faith but are unlikely to survive without ensuring justice to the oppressed and marginalised.

He said that if media reports based on some initial fact finding missions by private bodies were true it calls for urgent, transparent and credible inquiry into the incident.

According to the report of one such fact finding mission the murdered man had a dispute over the recovery of advance that the kiln owner had extended to two members of two Muslim families who had escaped. The kiln owners had asked the murdered man to repay the advance paid to the escaped families because he had introduced them to the kiln owners, the report said.

 It should also be investigated as to whether and why the police failed to rescue the couple despite reaching the site and whether the police was prevented from performing duty of taking the couple into custody for investigations in the allegation against them.

 The former president also asked the party leadership to visit the bereaved family to express sympathy and offer condolences.