Authorities have deployed paramilitary troops to restore order in Faisalabad district’s Jaranwala, where the alleged desecration took place.
There were no casualties as Christians living in the area had moved to safer places along with their families. They started returning to their homes Thursday, only to see the destruction. While the main church was gutted, four other churches were damaged. Two dozen homes were torched or badly damaged during the riots.
The attacks unfolded Wednesday when the mobs went on the rampage over allegations that two Christians had desecrated the Quran. “This was a well thought-out plan to disrupt peace and a high-level investigation is underway regarding the desecration of the Holy Quran and incidents afterwards,” a spokesperson for the Punjab government said in a statement.
The Punjab government ordered formation of a high-level inquiry committee following directives by interim PM Anwar-Ul-Haq Kakar. Police said they had arrested over 100 people and booked over 600.
“The frequency and scale of such attacks — which are systematic, violent and often uncontainable — appear to have increased in the last several years,” said the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
One of Pakistan’s worst spasms of religious violence occurred in 2009 when a mob burnt an estimated 60 homes and killed six Christians in the Gojra district of Punjab after accusing them of “insulting Islam”.