Lahore : The National Commission for Justice and Peace, a rights based organization of Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, is deeply saddened on the death of more than 32 people due to unlicensed alcohol consumption on Christmas December 25, 2016 in Mubarakabad district Toba Tek Singh, and more than 70 who are in in critical condition and have been hospitalized in Faisalabad and Toba Tek Singh government hospitals.
Although alcohol was prohibited in Muslim-majority of Pakistan in 1977, but under the law non-Muslim Pakistanis and foreigners are allowed to purchase liquor from licensed shops. As such the poor and marginalised sections of society often resort to home-brews or moonshine that can contain methanol, commonly used in anti-freeze and fuel, converting it into a toxic liquor.
His Excellency Bishop Joseph Arshad, Chairperson NCJP and Catholic Bishop of Faisalabad went to the district to console the families of the deceased, while expressing his profound grief he said, ‘this unfortunate event has converted the joyous festivity of Christmas into a mourning as many lives hang in balance due to critical condition.’ While visiting the hospital he prayed for the well-being and speedy recovery of the sick. He also offered prayers for the family and friends of the deceased and said that although life is uncertain but such untimely atrocity is hard to cope with. He further prayed that may God grant their families and community the strength to overcome this irreparable loss. He offered prayers for the souls of the victims and for speedy recovery of all those people who fell sick after drinking the toxic liquor.
His Excellency Bishop Joseph Arshad, Chairperson NCJP, together with Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf and Mr. Cecil Chaudhry, the National Director and Executive Director of the Commission, while expressing their profound grief said that a judicial inquiry needs to be conducted to bring the perpetrators to justice. They pleaded that the government should take strong concrete actions to apprehend the offenders despite their social status or official ranking.
Furthermore, they appealed to the government authorities for announcing and giving monetary compensation to the victims’ families.