LAHORE - Like other parts of the globe, Christmas will be celebrated across the country today (Thursday).

The Christian community has decided to celebrate Christmas with simplicity to mark solidarity with families of Peshawar tragedy victims. At the government level strict orders have been passed to the administration and the law enforcing agencies of every district to ensure foolproof security arrangements at the venue of gathering of Christians.

The Christmas services in all churches and places will start at night and continue till morning with intervals. In Lahore services will be held at more than 400 Churches, Chapels and private places by both Catholic and Protestant Christians. The largest gathering of all would be held at Catholic Cathedral, Lawrence Road where Bishop Sebastian Shah will lead the service while at Cathedral Church Bishop of Lahore, Irfan Jameel will lead the service.

In the background of the Peshawar incident, the community has decided not to follow the traditional festivities on this day and also no official partiers, cake cutting ceremonies and elaborate illumination have been arranged. However in view of the visit of the children and women of Christians to Lahore Zoo, recreational parks and eateries special security have been made by under the directions of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

In his message, Shahbaz Sharif said that Christians had played a commendable role in the progress and stability of the country as well as development of education and health sectors. He said that services of the Christian community for the country were a proof of its patriotism. He said that all religions give the message of peace and brotherhood and the teachings of the Holy Christ lay special emphasis in this regard.

He said that upholding of basic rights of minorities, protecting their life and property, granting them religious freedom and providing them equal opportunities of progress was the responsibility of the state and the Punjab government had evolved a comprehensive strategy in this regard.

Shahbaz Sharif further said that all minorities have equal rights in Pakistan and opportunities of progress are being provided to them without any discrimination.