LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that the whole nation is grieved over the Youhanabad tragedy which is an attempt to divide the nation and create unrest in the country.

The chief minister was talking to a representative delegation of Christian community comprising Bishops and Fathers during a meeting, on Wednesday.

The chief minister said that the prime minister and the entire nation had deep sympathies with the Christians and they fully shared the grief on this tragic incident. Terrorists have no religion and are enemies of Pakistan and want to destroy its peace and harmony in the country, he added.

Shahbaz Sharif commended the role Christian community played in the Pakistan movement and also in the progress and development of the country. He said that Christian brethren are patriotic and peace-loving members of the society.

The chief minister wished that had the damage to public and private property not been caused after the tragedy. He condemned the burning to death of two persons. He said that those who committed this act of cruelty would not be able to escape the law and would be brought to justice. He said that legal action would be taken against these people and they would have to face severe punishment.

The chief minister and other participants of the meeting observed one minute’s silence for those who lost their lives in Youhanabad tragedy. Shahbaz Sharif and the Christian delegation comprising bishops and fathers expressed the solidarity by holding their hands.

“Pakistan is in a state of war and facing the most difficult challenge of its history. Terrorists want to divide the nation through their despicable activities but all Pakistanis including Muslims, Christians and other minorities are united for the survival and stability of the country,” the CM held.

He said that there was a complete unity in political, military and religious leadership in the war against terrorism and a unanimous action plan had been evolved against terrorism which would help eliminate this menace from the country. He said that Army is successfully forwarding operation Zarb-e-Azb against terrorists and remarkable successes have been achieved. He said that every segment of the society had been affected by negative activities of terrorists.

“Young school going children have also been targeted by the brutal elements. Sacrifices of Pakistanis will not go to waste. Whole nation will have to display unity and solidarity and foil every attempt at dividing the nation. Punjab government is taking all possible steps for rooting out terrorism and extremism,” the added.

The chief minister expressed the hope that efforts to eradicate terrorism would succeed with the grace of Allah Almighty and Pakistan would emerge as an Islamic welfare state in accordance with the vision of Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Muhammad Iqbal. He further said that every member of the society would have to play his role for the promotion of the sentiments of tolerance and restraint so that the menace of terrorism and extremism could be curbed.

Shahbaz Sharif said: “No religion permits intolerance, violence and aggressive attitude and it is also the message of Jesus Christ to display patience and tolerance and to live peacefully.” He also lauded Christian community for its cooperation over the incident of Youhanabad.

He said that cabinet committee on peace and his other colleagues played a positive role in the proper handling of the issue for which he is grateful to them. He said that cabinet committee on law and order and administration should remain fully alert so that such incidents could be avoided in future.

He said that the message of restraint, tolerance and justice should be given from the mosques, imambargahs and other places of worship as it is the need of the hour for foiling the nefarious designs of the enemies.

The Christian leaders condemned Youhanabad tragedy. They also deplored the incident of ransacking and violence after the incident and assured that all possible cooperation would be extended to prevent such incidents in future. They said that Pakistan is their home and collective efforts would be made for its protection.

They said that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had taken personal interest in helping Christian community in the hour of need and settled the issues in a proper manner. They assured that every effort would be made for the strength and stability of the country.

Provincial Ministers Khalil Tahir Sandhu, Col (r) Shuja Khanzada, MNA Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, MPA Rana Sanaullah and others also expressed their views on the occasion.

Minster for Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Khalil Tahir Sandhu, Zaeem Hussain Qadri, Shahzad Munshi, Shakeel Ivan, former MPA Rana Mubasher, Chief Secretary and concerned authorities were present. Bishop of Lahore Irfan Jamil, Archbishop Cathedral Church Sebastian F Shaw, Alexander John Malik, Fr Emmanuel Mani, Fr Moris Jalal, Fr Frances Gulzar, Pastor Irshad Ashiq Naz, Fr Nadeem Frances, Dean Lahore Cathedral Rev Shahid Meraj and other Christian leaders were present on the occasion.