Rome, Italy, Feb 23, 2006 / 22:00 pm
During a meeting with a group of Catholic bishops in Islamabad, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shaukat Aziz, promised he would protect the rights of religious minorities in the wake of an attack on a church over the ongoing Mohammed cartoons controversy.
At the meeting Aziz noted the loyalty of Catholic citizens in Pakistan who have made great contributions in different areas of society. He also announced the creation of coordinating committees for different regions in order to safeguard peaceful coexistence between followers of different faiths, in an effort to promote tolerance and harmony. The committees would consist of local leaders, representatives of the government and members of all religions.
Aziz assured the bishops investigators would track down and bring to justice those responsible for burning a Catholic church Sunday as part of their protests against the cartoons depicting Mohammed that were published last September Denmark. “No one shall be allowed to take justice into his own hands,” Aziz said.
The prime minister noted that the Pakistani Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and government protection of places of worship. On February 19, more than 400 Pakistanis protesting the cartoons set fire to a Catholic church in the town of Sukkur.