Islamabad - Over 1,500 policemen are employed in the twin cities of Islamabad-Rawalpindi to guarantee the security of churches, neighborhoods and Christian institutions, during the Christmas period. Similar provisions concern other major Pakistani cities, such as Karachi and Lahore, where terrorist threats are to be avoided. As Agenzia Fides learns, the special plan to protect the religious celebration of Christmas in Pakistan, ordered by the police authorities, is ready to be implemented, and the police units have already started to visit the churches to see the places and prepare adequate protection measures.
"Police officers have ensured cooperation and full support for the Christmas day celebrations. Agents will be deployed in churches throughout the city, especially during the Christmas and day night masses", reports to Agenzia Fides Fr. Mario Rodrigues, rector of the St. Patrick's Cathedral in Karachi. And adds: "After the acquittal of Asia Bibi, the situation is very delicate and we are concerned, we are praying so that everything goes well".
In recent days, about fifteen representatives of the Christian communities of various confessions met with police officers in Karachi to talk about the existing needs. The Inspector General of Sindh Province, Syed Kaleem Imam, confirmed that "Christians will be guaranteed extraordinary protection during the Christmas season".
The police also organized training sessions for volunteers serving in churches. Fr. Mario informs: "More than 150 Christian men have been trained to provide this service".
In Lahore more than 10,000 policemen will be present to protect churches in sensitive areas, Christian neighborhoods and parks where the faithful will gather to celebrate Christmas. As announced by the Superintendent after a meeting with the Christian representatives of Lahore, "special police teams will be engaged in patrols around the churches to ensure the highest safety standards", while CCTV cameras will be installed in some sensitive places.
Pastor Adeel Patras Chaudry, vice president of "Jesus Life TV", Pakistani Christian television channel, told Fides: "For Christmas, we Christians in Pakistan pray especially for peace. We have faith that the government and the police will know how to provide the necessary security to citizens, we also pray for them, engaged in this important and risky service". >>