Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Dr Arif Alvi on Saturday congratulated the Christian community on the occasion and assured that the government will continue to safeguard rights and privileges of all minorities living in the country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday wished all the Pakistani Christian citizens “a very Happy Christmas” and promised to safeguard the rights and privileges enjoyed by all minorities.

The premier took to Twitter to felicitate the Christians and said: “Wishing all our Christian citizens a very Happy Christmas.”

In a separate message on the occasion, PM Imran said: “On the auspicious occasion of Christmas, I, on behalf of the government and people of Pakistan, extend heartfelt congratulations to the Christian community around the world, and especially in Pakistan, for celebrating the festival of Christmas with devotion and respect.”

“The festivities of Christmas teach us universal love, brotherhood, tolerance and self-sacrifice which plays a pivotal role in moving any society on the path of development.”

“The birth of Prophet Jesus is considered a symbol of peace, brotherhood, tolerance and respect for the humanity throughout the world.

Christian devotees pray at Saint Andrew Church to celebrate Christmas in Karachi (AFP)

“He not only healed the ailing humanity, but preached the divine values of tolerance, love and compassion.

“He guided people towards virtuous living and urged them to seek divine mercy. As a divine messenger, Prophet Jesus’ teachings are for adherents of all religions.”

The prime minister said the sincere and invaluable services rendered by the Christians in the fields of defence, education, health as well as economic development of the country had always been commendable.

“Being equal citizens of the state, the Government will empower them to use their abilities for national development. Our policies are geared towards creating harmony and cohesion between people of all faiths.”

He said, “our government is doing its utmost duty to bring you into the national mainstream, so that you can play your role as active citizens in the society in a positive way and help this country move on the path of development.”

“Our constitution enshrined Quaid-e-Azam’s vision and safeguarded the legitimate interests of minorities,” he said adding the Quaid had assured religious freedom and security for all communities irrespective of their religion, profession and ethnic origin.

He said the government of Pakistan held sacrosanct the equality and freedom of conscience of all citizens irrespective of belief, creed or religion.

The present government will continue to safeguard the rights and privileges enjoyed by all minorities, he added.

“We are committed to building a society that respects difference and finds strength in diversity; a nation that is tolerant and cohesive; and a state that provides equal rights and opportunities to all citizens,” he concluded.

The president’s official Twitter account also extended his “heartiest felicitations”, adding that the Muslims “deeply respect Jesus Christ as one of the great messengers of Allah Almighty”.

STRICT SECURITY: Pakistan’s Christian community is celebrating Christmas amid tight security.

Pakistani Christians decorate the main hall of Sacred Heart cathedral church for Christmas, in Lahore.

Authorities have tightened security around churches and mass prayer sites all across the country to guard against any unwanted incident. To strengthen protection of religious buildings, walk-through gates have been installed at entry and exit points and the Christmas services and sites of celebration would be monitored through CCTV cameras.

Punjab police have announced strict security measures for the security of 295 churches in South Punjab.

Meanwhile, Christians have adorned the churches with bells, lights and Christmas trees.

Churches around the country have been illuminated ahead of Christmas. Many restaurants and markets in the major cities are decked out with lights, trees, decorations, cakes and gifts as Pakistan’s more than 2.5 million Christians have finalised the preparations to celebrate the festive occasion.

Many churches in Pakistan plan to celebrate

The day started with worship services and prayers and would conclude with annual dinners as the coronavirus situation has relatively improved in the country. Special cake cutting ceremonies and festivities have been planned at different government ministries and organizations on December 25 to mark the event officially.

On December 25, the people of Pakistan also celebrate the birthday of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.

SPECIAL TRAINS: Pakistan Railways has announced to run two special coaches on December 25. The number of coaches have also been increased on the occasion to facilitate travel.

“Our Christian brothers and sisters will be easily able to go back home and spend the festivities with their families during the holidays,” Railways Minister Azam Swati said.

PRESIDENT ARIF ALVI: Earlier on Dec 21, President Dr Arif Alvi felicitated the Christian community across the world at a meeting with religious leaders of various communities held in Islamabad on the eve of Christmas.

President Alvi asserted that the “the world today is in dire need of spreading the message of peace promoted by Jesus Christ (Hazrat Issa) and the Prophet Mohammad.”

He urged the Christians, Muslims and members of other religions in Pakistan to show mercy and compassion and promote peace and harmony.


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