Across Pakistan, the Christian community celebrated Christmas with great religious zeal and joy despite security concerns after the terrorist attack in Islamabad.
People attended church in large numbers. Prayers were offered for peace, progress, and prosperity in Pakistan, as well as for the safety of all human beings globally. The faithful took part in traditional religious activities, including illuminating houses and neighborhoods.
Governments made proper security arrangements of the churches, while police personnel and Christian volunteers made sure that churches were safe during prayer services. No unfortunate incidents transpired during the community’s celebration of the Jesus Christ’s birthday. People credited the police’s effective security measures in keeping the peace.
A Christian from Lahore said, “We had a peaceful Christmas as there was not even a single incident that happened anywhere. We are thankful to the local administration, security agencies, and the police for providing security to us, so we should offer prayers peacefully.”
For the last few weeks, in response to terrorist attacks in some parts of the country during December, law enforcement agencies visited churches to put into place comprehensive security arrangements for prayer services and other religious activities on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Just two days before Christmas, militants carried out a suicide bombing in Islamabad. When police tried to stop the attackers at a checkpoint, one police officer was killed. More than 1,500 policemen were deployed around churches in the federal capital to ensure foolproof security during prayer services. In the same way, policemen were also deployed outside all churches across the country.
Christians began decorating their homes and their neighborhoods in November, and in many communities, were assisted by their Muslim neighbors. In a “katchi abadi” in Lahore, Muslims lent a hand in helping to decorate the Christmas tree. A Christian from that area said that every year in her neighborhood, Muslims are “happy and proud” to take part in such Christmas activities.
Christmas is celebrated as a celebration of peace and brotherhood. It brings communities closer together. Big hotels and supermarkets also put up Christmas trees to mark Christmas. Preparations begin early in big cities as Christmas shops open up in October.
In many places, the arrival of Santa Claus (Father Christmas) was a big attraction for children. Apart from prayer services and other religious activities, social activities such as Christmas cake-cutting ceremonies were held. Even government departments and ministries take part in the Christmas festivities with their own cake-cutting ceremonies.
A cake-cutting ceremony was also held at the Prime Minister’s House in Islamabad. In his Christmas message, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif greeted Christians and said: “Merry Christmas to the Christian community around the world and particularly our Pakistani Christian brothers and sisters. Jesus Christ’s teachings of love, brotherhood, and peace are beacons of light for us. On this day, let us all renew our pledge to work for peace and prosperity for all.”
President Dr. Arif Alvi also extended his felicitations and warmest wishes to the Christian community.
During their Christmas messages, many Muslim political leaders lauded the contribution of Pakistani Christians in service to the country and assured that Christians are an integral part of the Pakistani nation.