Defence Minister of Pakistan Pervez Khattak justified the lynching of a Sri Lankan national by a murderous mob in Sialkot last Friday, saying it was the work of “angry, charged and growing up children who were swept away by religious emotions”. The minister ended up underlining it as a “child’s play” and said “it happens” as “young, energetic” people are driven by religious passions.
“Even I can get excited and do wrong when it comes to religion,” Khattak told reporters, claiming that it was wrong to blame the government. “Instead of blaming the government, it is the responsibility of the media to explain these to the people.”
The international community is seeing the comments of Khattak as reflective of the true nature of Pakistani society while Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan‘s assurance to the world that perpetrators would be punished sounded cosmetic. “Spoke to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today in UAE to convey our nation’s anger and shame to people of Sri Lanka at the vigilante killing of Priyantha Diyawadana in Sialkot,” Khan had tweeted.
Political observers said they were dismayed at the events and that the defence minister must face action for his comments.
“If Pervez Khattak is not immediately removed from the cabinet, it will mean that PM Khan kept telling lies on the Sialkot tragedy, which was conveyed even to the president and foreign minister of Sri Lanka,” said Hamid Ur Rehman, a journalist in Pakistan.
On Friday, supporters of hardline Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) attacked a garment factory of Rajco Industries, lynched the general manager, Priyantha Diyawadana, and set his body on fire.
Many from the mob clicked photos and recorded videos of the incident, with a few even describing the events, seeking pride in the criminal act, to news channels. In a few video clips, police personnel were also seen standing at the scene without trying to take any action.
An autopsy report stated that all of Diyawadana’s bones were broken and 99% of his body was burnt. All the bones, including the victim’s arms and hip, were broken with the exception of one foot, according to Samaa News.
Pakistan is the largest recipient of eye donations from Sri Lanka, having received at least 35,000 corneas since 1967.
Dr Niaz Brohi, a leading ophthalmologist of Pakistan told Samaa News, “Sri Lankans donated us 35,000 eyes, but we lost sight.”
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s Industry Minister Wimal Weerawansa said in a press conference yesterday that his government has asked Pakistan for compensation for the assassination of a plant manager by a mob in Sialkot last week.
“We have requested the government of Pakistan for compensation to be paid for the life of Priyantha Kumara. We have made a firm request that the government of Pakistan do so accordingly,” the Sri Lankan minister said at the press conference.
“The relevant nations end up paying compensation if religious extremism is encouraged and criminals are not brought to prison,” he added, explaining Colombo’s demand.