ISLAMABAD -Like everywhere in the world, the Christian community in Pakistan is also set to celebrate their annual religious festival of Easter on Sunday (April 17), marking special services and other festivities.

Easter Sunday is one of the most festive events among Christians worldwide which commemorates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from death, according to the Bible. The followers of Christ believe Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. Just like any other festival, Easter Sunday also precedes special preparations by the people from different age groups including men, women, and children. The people living in different parts of the country make special arrangements to celebrate the Day.

The Christians celebrating the festival in Pakistan receive heartfelt greetings from their countrymen which manifests a great atmosphere of good religious and cultural harmony in the country.

Special services are hosted at different places across the country where the believers attend prayers for salvation, and for the progress and prosperity of Pakistan. All provincial police departments make special security arrangements to provide security cover to the minority communities on their festivals or special prayers. The minorities in Pakistan are free to practice their religion as there are around 2,652 churches in the country - 1 church per 664 Christians, comparing one mosque per 2,249 Muslims in the UK.

The state of Pakistan has constantly been taking administrative and legislative measures to protect the minorities’ rights to provide them a safe and free environment, without any discrimination.

The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has recently been re-constituted. The newly constituted NCM has increased membership of minority communities. Moreover, Chela Ram Kewlani, has been appointed as Chairman of the Commission. The government has allocated 5% job quota for minorities in all federal government services, in addition to the open merit. In Pakistan, 10 religious festivals of minorities including Christmas and Easter for Christians are celebrated at official level, to promote understanding and harmony among all segments of society. The human rights ministry has also prepared a Christian Marriage and Divorce draft bill which would be introduced in the parliament after final deliberation. Minorities are provided with equal rights of education, jobs and business opportunities. Four reserved seats in the Senate of Pakistan, 10 in National Assembly and reserved seats in all provincial assemblies have been allocated for the minorities. In total, 23 seats have been allocated for the minorities in the provincial assemblies including three each in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, eight in Punjab and nine in Sindh. The government has announced public holidays for minorities on their exclusive festivals however, Christmas is declared as a general public holiday. In order to mainstreaming of minorities through Minorities Welfare Fund, Small Development Schemes are carried out for the repair and maintenance of the worship places of minorities.

The financial assistance” is extended to the poor segments of minorities while scholarships are also granted to the students from minorities on merit basis.