"In the past, we have witnessed actual bloodbaths. Churches and schools have been attacked, and we have lost loved ones in the war on terror."
"we stand firm with our Armed Forces who are fighting on the front line. We also
stand by the government as it puts up a fierce fight" against violence and
terror, said Mgr Rufin Anthony, bishop of Islamabad/Rawalpindi, who addressed Pakistan's
Christian community as it observed a day of prayer for peace across the
Catholic initiative is a response to the escalating wave of terror that
has fallen on the nation and left scores of people dead in the first weeks of
2014. In the capital, thousands of people joined the candlelight vigil for
During the rally,
the prelate spoke about Fr Anwar Patras, a Pakistani priest who died last week
and was buried in Mianwali District. With a lifetime of service in the dioceses
of Rawalpindi and Attock, he led in the fields of education and health, especially
raising awareness in a campaign for polio
Since the start
of the year, Islamic extremists and Pakistani Taliban have carried out at least
ten major attacks across the country. For most Pakistanis, the time is for quick
action, including a decisive military campaign "to eradicate terrorism from the
in fear," said Fr John P Riaz, a priest from Rawalpindi. There is a lot of
"uncertainty" about the future. People want only peace and security. "We
pray for peace in the region because we want a future for the new generations,"
he added, "a future free from fear."
occasion, the Christian community in Khyber Pukthunkhawa province also celebrated
one hundred years of presence in Tribal Areas, despite the fact that they do
not enjoy the same status as the rest of the local population and are not recognised
as members of any tribe.
are loyal to tribal laws, "we are not accepted as part of the tribe where we
live," said Arshad John, a local Christian. "Christians are not allowed to take
part in jirga (a local assembly of
elders). We are aliens in our own land, a land which we have protected for more
than a hundred years."
In fact, Christians
are not allowed to build churches, and pastors and priests have to refrain from
venturing into these areas because of the danger of abduction and murder. Just recently,
a priest was kidnapped and released only after a large sum of money was paid.
"It is ironic
that Christians are not recognised even in Tribal Areas despite their loyalty,"
said Fr James Ilyas, from the Diocese of Peshawar, where a Protestant
church was attacked in September. In view of this, the Church continues
to pray "for persecuted people".
population of more than 180 million people (97 per cent Muslim), Pakistan is
the sixth most populous country in the world, the second largest Muslim nation
Hindus are 1.85 per cent, followed by Christians (1.6 per cent)
and Sikhs (0.04 per cent).
ethnic and religious minorities is commonplace across the country, with Shia Muslims
and Christians as the main target, with things getting worse in recent years.