Pakistan's caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar on Friday said the interim government would not support "the forces of darkness" in the society as he took strong exception to the unprecedented attack on minority Christians in the Muslim-majority country's Punjab province.
An enraged mob ransacked and torched 21 churches and 35 homes of Christians on Wednesday over blasphemy allegations in Jaranwala town of Faisalabad district, 130 km from Lahore, the provincial capital.
"The minorities will stay protected in this country. There may be an attempt to harm them from a section of marginalised and peripheral groups of people, but that would be responded to sternly and strictly," Mr. Kakar said during his maiden federal Cabinet meeting.
"Pakistani state and society [do] not align with such elements. They may be from us but they are divorced from us, they are divorced from our identity process. We do not stand for the forces of darkness," he said.
“We would strongly discourage rigidity, be it any form in this society. We do not stand for the forces of darkness,” Mr. Kakar stressed.
“Extreme attitudes” which he said included “secularism” and “religious” ones, would not only be “unwelcome, but would be discouraged. They would be curbed and controlled by the law,” Mr. Kakar, who assumed office on August 12, said.
When one group is in the majority, they should ensure that the minority is protected. "But not on the basis that they would convert to your world view [...] their sustenance should be ensured," he was quoted as saying by Geo News.
Mr. Kakar, at the same time, also admitted that the interim government did not have a “perpetual mandate” to serve the nation but he will "try to support" new initiatives.
The first-time Senator from Balochistan province said he is “proud” to have “one of the best teams” but he is "very well aware that we are here for an allocated time. We do not have a perpetual mandate to serve this nation”.
Mr. Kakar said he is hopeful that "Almighty Allah would enable" them to lead and steer Pakistan in the interim period.
He said the caretaker set-up will try to lay foundations in order to have the continuation of national and international commitments made by previous governments.
“And in continuation of that, we will try to support new initiatives, whatever the law and Constitution allow us to do,” the caretaker premier said.
The newly inducted Cabinet sworn in on Thursday is tasked with running the cash-strapped country until fresh elections - which might be delayed beyond November with the election commission deciding to conduct a fresh delimitation of Constituencies on the basis of the new census.
The five-year tenure of the 342-member lower house of Parliament was scheduled to expire on August 12. However, then Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif dissolved the National Assembly three days ahead of its mandated period to get 90 days time for holding elections.
According to the schedule announced by the election commission on Thursday, the delimitation would be completed on December 14, which is beyond the 90-day period to hold polls after the dissolution of the assembly.
Mr. Kakar also noted that while Pakistan’s economic challenges were considerable, the caretaker government would try to ensure financial discipline.
“We have a sense of the sanctity of taxpayers’ money, on which we are having this meeting and consuming this water and tea,” he said.
The caretaker Prime Minister said the people of the country paid taxes so that the government could deliver and provide a secure environment for them.
“So that utmost duty — maybe it is for a month, two, three or whatever the allocated time is — we will demonstrate not through our words but through our actions,” he said.