Pak announces Rs 30 million for repair of church burnt by mob



Islamabad: Pakistani authorities on Tuesday announced that Rs 30 million would be provided for repairing and reconstructing a historic church in the country's northwest that was burnt by a mob during a protest against an anti-Islam film.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti announced that the aid for repairing the church in Mardan city after inspecting the 82-year-old structure.

Addressing a gathering of Christians, Hoti said the elements involved in burning the church were behind conspiracies aimed at damaging religious harmony.

Such elements cannot escape law and will be given exemplary punishment, Hoti said.

He assured the Christians that the church will be repaired and reconstructed in consultation with elders of the community.

A mob attacked and set on fire the church, St Paul's high school, a library, a computer laboratory and houses of four clergymen during a protest against the anti-Islam film last Friday.

The incident caused tremendous concern among the minority Christian community in northwest Pakistan.

Hoti described the attack on the church as an incident of "extreme brutality" that was highly condemnable.

Muslims had every right to peacefully protest against the sacrilegious film but some persons damaged valuable property and devastated the church, he said.

These persons had brought a bad name for Pakistan and Islam, he added. Islam teaches the importance of peace and tranquility and grants full freedom to followers of other faiths to practice their religion, he said, adding minorities are an integral part of Pakistan.

Top Pakistani leaders, including President Asif Ali Zardari, have condemned the attack on the church.

Widespread violent protests against the anti-Islam film on Friday resulted in 23 deaths and the destruction of property worth billions of rupees.

PTI