“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold,

everything is softer and more beautiful.”

–Norman Vincent Peale

With the inauguration of the Christmas Train just recently, the spirit of Christmas is inculcated in the hearts of most Pakistanis. An initiative by the Railway Minister, Saad Rafique, to honour the Christians on their special day is progress towards tolerance and unity. The train is set to visit all major cities of Pakistan like Lahore, Islamabad, Sahiwal and Hyderabad.

In light of the past injustices towards the minority where churches were burnt and many Christians killed on the basis of their faith, such recognition and appreciation was not only necessary but important to set a precedent on a national level. Besides the fact that they aren’t given their rights, most Christians in Pakistan live under extreme poverty and often struggle to make ends meet. This can be attributed towards the fact that most employment opportunities for them are usually low income jobs requiring little to no level of skill. They don’t even get the privilege of a public holiday for other festivals like Easter.

It is unfortunate that they live under the constant tension of their lives, property and faith in Pakistan when it was a country founded on the oppression of the Muslim minorities in India. This leaves us with a glaring problem of a lack of empathy on our part. It is understandable that we ourselves did not face the oppression our predecessors did but that doesn’t excuse our ignorance because the world has evolved to become more humanitarian and awareness about the protection of all rights and the equality of every individual no matter their race, culture or religion is abundant.

Usually on the day of Christmas, cathedrals and churches are packed with people who listen to spiritual seminars and speeches to get themselves enthused for Christmas. Children gather in groups and sing carols with their friends and families. Churches are decorated with colourful lights and card board cutouts of Santa Claus are placed in various corners inside to encapsulate the true spirit. It is one day all worries are forgotten as individuals are positively engrossed in the activities that consume most of their time. We should feel a sense of association with the occasion due to the close resemblance of rejoicing during festivals like Eid which will, perhaps, create a more united Pakistan with reduced discrimination and increased respect for not only minorities like Christians but also Ahmedis and Sikhs. Today, as the public remembers Muhammad Ali Jinnah and appreciates the creation of Pakistan, Christmas will also be celebrated by many who are citizens of the country. Despite coming from different religions, the mutual aspect of respect for the creation of Pakistan and the people who populate it will lead to a united celebration of both significant occasions.

–Zahra Kazi