Minority leaders have expressed skepticism after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed punishment for religious vigilantes.
“I have decided that from now on we will not spare those who resort to violence in the name of religion, especially in the name of the Prophet Muhammad. We see this spectacle. People are being set on fire and killing continues in the name of religion,” Khan said.
Khan was addressing the Dec. 7 condolences for Priyantha Kumara, a Sri Lankan citizen beaten to death and set on fire by an angry mob in Pakistan’s Punjab province last week over blasphemy allegations.
Lutheran Bishop Jimmy Mathew of Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province described PM Khan’s warning as “another beautiful political statement”.
“The public shouldn’t be judge, jury and executioner. We are awaiting strict punishment for Kumara’s killers and fear their supporters will soon raise slogans for murderers. Besides condemnatory statements, ulemas should spread tolerance among the grass roots. The mindset must change,” he said.
Amir Mehmood, who handles communications for the Ahmadi sect, says religious extremism in public is a decades-old phenomenon.