Islamabad, December 24 (Express Tribune): With an avowedly secular government in place at long last , Christians in Muslim-majority Pakistan are preparing to celebrate Christmas with unprecedented gaiety, reports say. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday that no load-shedding would take place across the country on Tuesday to enable Christians to celebrate Christmas.
The power authority instructed the electricity distribution companies (DISCOs) to lift scheduled load management across the country.
Premier Imran made the decision to enable the Christian community to celebrate their religious festival.
All DISCOs have been directed to depute special emergency teams to rectify any fault on the occasion.
The distribution firms have also been directed to specially monitor and make necessary arrangements, including provision of emergency generators for the feeders providing electricity to Churches to ensure uninterrupted power supply during the religious services.
As Christmas is just hours away, the community has started thronging shopping malls in order to buy clothes and gifts for their relatives.
The Christmas community are also busy decorating their houses with Christmas trees, while events related to the occasion have been organised at various locations.
Moreover, Premier Imran took to the microblogging website, Twitter, wishing the Christian community “a happy and peaceful Christmas”.
In Lahore, Christmas preparations in 97 churches of the provincial capital have been completed. These include Catholic, Protestant and other deniminational churches. In the provincial capital, the biggest ceremony for the Catholic school of thought will be held at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Lawrence Road. Meanwhile, the largest event for Protestants will be organized at the Cathedral Church on Mall Road.
Similarly, Christmas events will be organized at St Anthony’s Church, Naulakha Church and others where Christian leaders will hold prayers for the country’s prosperity and safety.
Talking to Express News, Christian leader Father Nadeem France said that this day strengthens the resolve to encourage peace, fraternity, love, and interfaith harmony. “We need to end hatred, differences and unite for the prosperity, peace, safety, and the development of Pakistan.”
The Dean of Cathedral Father Shahid Mairaj said Christmas is the day to commemorate the arrival of the ‘prince of peace’. He added the day is marked to share happiness and accept each other wholeheartedly.
Lahore Capital City Police Officer BA Nasir said that Christmas gives the message of love, peace, and brotherhood.
He was speaking at a cake cutting ceremony organized on Saturday in connection with Christmas celebrations at Police Lines Qilla Gujjar Singh.
Officers and officials of the Lahore Police from the Christian community are playing their role in maintaining law and order and eradicating crime in the city, he said.
He said the Lahore police will provide foolproof security to the Christian community during celebrations at churches and other public places. He added that the Muslim community is equally participating in the celebrations.
“The Christian community, along with other minorities, is playing a pivotal role in the development of the country. They have been outstanding in different sections of society and have been working shoulder to shoulder with us for betterment.”
Keeping up with its tradition, this year the Albayrak Waste Management is carrying out special cleanup operations in and around churches and Christian graveyards. It is carrying out this work with the help of sanitary staff and heavy machinery prior to Christmas Eve.
Mechanical sweeping and washing are being carried out in the surroundings of the churches and adjacent localities. These field operations are being supervised by the operations department of Albayrak to facilitate the Christian Community. Albayrak has made sanitary staff, machinery and additional resources available at Christmas bazaars in Lahore to provide cleaner surroundings to the citizens. Moreover, during the Christmas holidays, waste related complaints would be resolved on a priority basis.
To celebrate and to share the joy of Christmas with the Christian community, Albayrak is also arranging special cake cutting ceremonies in the schools and different union councils.
(The featured image at the top shows a Pakistani Santa Claus waving from a special Christmas train)