PESHAWAR -  Diocese of Peshawar Bishop Humphrey Sarfaraz Peter on Sunday called for harmony among followers of various religions for prosperity and betterment of the country.

Peter was addressing a gathering in All Saint Church in Kohati, Peshawar, in connection with the Christmas celebrations. The bishop urged the minority Christian community and general public to stand united against terrorism and conspiracies hatched by the anti-state elements against the country and its people.

Christmas was celebrated across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with religious zeal and fervour. In this connection, colourful ceremonies were held in various churches of Peshawar city and cantonment area, as well as in other parts of the province and Fata. On the occasion, churches were beautifully illuminated with lights and other decoration items.

The day began with special prayers for peace and prosperity in the country. In Peshawar, main function was held in All Saint Church, where Bishop Peter also spoke to the gathering. He prayed for restoration of durable peace in the country and urged the people to remain peaceful and united and work for development of the country. He also congratulated Christian community on the eve of Christmas and urged upon them to follow the teachings of Hazrat Issa (AS).

This year in Peshawar and rest of the province, as well as Fata, Christian community enjoyed the Christmas to their fullest, apparently because of the peace prevailing in the areas. The minority community members also participated in celebrations of 141st birthday of the founder of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

In order to share the joy of the festive occasion, Christian families paid visits to one another’s homes and attended Christmas parties. They also decorated their houses with Christmas trees, made of plastic, lights and other decorative items.

Besides Peshawar, members of the Christian community also thronged churches and markets in other cities of the province, including Mardan, Nowshera, Risalpur, Abbottabad, Haripur, Kohat, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan and Parachinar.

Meanwhile, Christmas and birthday of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was also celebrated with zeal and enthusiasm in Landi Kotal, Khyber Agency. 

In this connection, a simple but impressive gathering was organised in church inside the premises of cantonment. Wing Commander Lieutenant Colonel Saeed was chief guest on the occasion. Members of the Christian community presented tableaus and religious songs and their religious leaders offered prayers for prosperity and solidarity of the country.

Addressing the gathering, Colonel Saeed said all rights had been bestowed upon the minorities in the country, who, he said, were free to practice their religious rites independently.

He said if the citizens of Pakistan sincerely followed the golden principles of Quaid-e-Azam, all the problems being faced by them could be resolved. At the end, cake was cut and sweets were distributed to mark both the Christmas and birthday of the founder of the nation.

In Mohmand Agency, Christmas was celebrated in Catholic Church in agency headquarters, Ghalanai. On the occasion, strict security measures were put in place to prevent any unpleasant incident. For the purpose, huge contingents of FC personnel were deployed to guard the church. Assistant Political Agent Ghalanai Haseeb-Ur-Rehman Khalil was chief guest on the occasion. Lt Colonel Umair of Mohmand Rifles also participated in the ceremony. Imran, a local Christian religious leader, and several other members of his community attended the ceremony.

The ceremony started with prayers for the prosperity of the country and solidarity of the nation. A Christmas cake was also cut on the occasion.

Addressing the participants, the chief guest assured that minorities would not be discriminated against on the basis of religion in his jurisdiction. He also announced provision of a two kanals piece of land for graveyard for Christian community in Ghalanai. He also wished a merry Christmas to the Christian community. He lauded their role and sincere efforts for prosperity of the country and assured them of resolution of all the problems they were faced with on priority basis.