Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan awarded a certificate of appreciation to Malik Adnan who tried to save Priyantha Kumara and shielded him when the mob attacked the Sri Lankan man in Sialkot. Image Credit: PID

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday announced strict action against those committing violence in the name of religion.

Khan called for concerted action of the state, religious communities, teachers and civil society to root out the scourge of extremism from society.

He made the remarks at the condolence event held at the Prime Minister Office in Islamabad to honour the slain Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara.

Pakistani ministers also attended the event and expressed solidarity and sympathies with Kumara’s family and the people and government of Sri Lanka. The premier also laid a floral wreath on a portrait of Kumara at the PM office.

The Sri Lankan factory manager was lynched to death by a mob in Sialkot after the factory workers falsely accused him of blasphemy to settle the personal vendetta. The horrific vigilante attack led to an outpouring of anger and shame in Pakistan and was condemned by the government and the people.

Khan described the horrific incident as a ‘day of shame for Pakistan’ and vowed to bring culprits to justice. He regretted that the country that should be following the path and the teaching of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is instead “heading in a different di-rection” as in the case of the Sialkot incident where the mob became the “judge, jury and executioner,” spreading fear and chaos in society.

Pakistanis will not tolerate extremism

Calling the attack “unfortunate and unacceptable,” he vowed that the government will not spare those who resort to violence in the name of Islam or the Holy Prophet (PBUH). After the Peshawar school massacre in 2014, Pakistanis came together, bonded by sadness, that led to a collective war against terrorism, he said. Today, after the Sialkot incident, a badly shaken Pakistan has decided that “we will not let such [act of extremism] happen again” in this country.

At the memorial, PM Khan informed the gathering that the business community in Si-alkot had collected $100,000 for Kumara’s grieving wife and children and also promised that his family in Sri Lanka would continue to receive his monthly salary.

'We need role models like Malik Adnan'

On Tuesday, Khan awarded a certificate of appreciation to Malik Adnan — Kumara’s colleague who had tried to save his life and shielded him when the mob attacked. “It was painful to see what the mob did [to Kumara]. But Adnan has restored our faith in humanity” and Pakistani nation, he said. Pakistan needs role models like Adnan who will be remembered as the “only man who stood against the beasts.” Adnan would be awarded Tamgha-i-Shujaat (Medal of Bravery) on March 23, 2022, for demonstrating “unflinching heroism in the face of danger.”

Government set to wipe out vigilantism

On Monday, Pakistan’s political and military leadership decided that the government would launch a comprehensive strategy to eradicate religious extremism and vigilan-tism and ensure strict punishment to those who killed the Sri Lankan national.

A joint statement from Pakistani Islamic scholars described the attack as “an inhumane act” and said that “to accuse someone of blasphemy without proof is not in accordance with the Shariah.” Chairman Council of Islamic Ideology Dr Qibla Ayaz termed the inci-dent against the teaching of the Holy Quran, the Constitution as well as the laws of Pakistan, urging for “strictest possible legal action.”

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan High Commissioner Wijewickrama said the Sialkot incident was “horrific” but added that his government was satisfied with the swift action by the government of Pakistan and hoped justice would be done. He said that the unfortunate event would not affect dec-ades-old Pakistan and Sri Lanka friendship.