Christmas preparations remain peaceful in Pakistan

08:29, December 24, 2009      

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Preparations of Christmas are going on with zeal and fervor peacefully in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, a Muslim country.

The local Christians have started illuminating their homes and churches while shopping of Christmas gifts is in full swing.

Churches in different parts of the capital city have been decorated with colorful lights and illuminated Christmas Trees.

Programs like tableaux and carols have been prepared by various educational institutions run by Churches to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Father Rahmat Michael Hakim, parish priest of Our Lady Fatima (Catholic), said that they have no hurdles in their celebrations and people as well as the government are cooperating with them.

The government is not only providing moral support but also financial assistance as well, he added. The priest said that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) hosted a dinner in respect of the Christian community in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi in connection to the approaching Christmas while an interfaith Christmas dinner was hosted by the government at Serena hotel, the priest said. He said that CDA also decorated trees in the blue area, a downtown commercial center.

Regarding preparations Hakim said that preparations for Christmas get momentum in the last week of November and remain continue till the last week of December.

Christian leader in Islamabad J. Salick said, "We all are Pakistanis and we celebrate Christmas with happiness and love for humanity."

A local Muslim resident said that Islam propagates tolerance and respects for others' religions, so all Pakistanis respect the day of celebrations of Christmas and all share love and happiness with the Pakistani Christians as well as others in the world.

There are 2.3 million Christians in the country out of which 48percent are Protestants and 52 percent are Catholics.

The government of Pakistan has extended financial assistance to needy members of the Christian community to celebrate the event. The government of Punjab, the biggest province in Pakistan, has notified that all Christian government servants and pensioners will receive their pension and salaries for the month of December on 19th because of Christmas.

Spokesman of the ministry of minority, while talking to reporters, said that his ministry earmarks about 2.5 million Pak rupees (29,000 U.S. dollars) for religious festivals of the minorities, which take place round the year.

He said that apart from these festivals, the ministry distributes 50 percent of the total allocated amount every year among the deserving people through a transparent process.

Meanwhile this year activities of foreigners in Islamabad was noted as contrasting to the Pakistani Christians. Unlike past, few foreigners were visible in Kohsar Market, frequently visited by foreigners, and other public places as the Christmas is approaching.

Many foreigners, who are working in diplomatic missions and other organizations in the capital city, from western countries are residing in Islamabad. In the past, the foreigners used to go to the local markets for shopping of Christmas gifts but this time the trend was different as foreigners were almost absent in the market places.

A local shopkeeper in Kohsar market said that sale of the Christmas gifts was down by 50 percent this year as compared to last year. Fear is the main factor that keeps the westerns away from the markets, he added.

A U.S. citizen, a 55-year-old lady , who was alone looking at the Christmas gifts for children, said that people, particularly, foreigners are absent from the markets even three days before their religious festivity, probably, because of some unseen mishap and fear.

Another foreign man, who decline to reveal his nationality, said, "I feel joy on this occasions but also wishes for peace in Pakistan." However, I would communicate a message of congratulation and happiness to the Christians in the world and Pakistan, he said.

Source: Xinhua
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