Church leader calls for including Christians in Gandhara Corridor

Church of Pakistan’s President Bishop Azad Marshall has said that unity in diversity was the spirit of interfaith harmony, as he urged the government to include Christians in the Gandhara Corridor because of the region’s religious significance to the community.

“Let us pledge to foster greater understanding and build a society where every individual, regardless of their faith, can thrive. Together, we can turn the ideals of peace, unity, and compassion into a lasting reality,” the senior church leader said while addressing a reception he hosted to celebrate Easter and Eid Ul Fitr earlier this week. 

Bishop Marshall lauded Hindu lawmaker Ramesh Kumar Vankwani for presenting the Gandhara Corridor Bill in the National Assembly but stressed that Christians should also be included in the corridor.

“The region holds immense religious value for Christians because Saint Thomas, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, came to the subcontinent through Taxila. There is a monument of the revered saint at Taxila which is very sacred for Christians. The church intends to organize religious pilgrimage as well as establish a museum of Christian artefacts there. We would appreciate if the Government of Pakistan would amend the draft bill to include Christians in it,” he said.

The bishop also read out special messages from senior leaders of the global Anglican Communion on the occasion. 

In his message, the leader of the Anglican Communion and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: “My prayer for you this evening is that friendships will be formed, that peace will be fostered across religions, that Lahore might be a symbol for the whole world of how we can live together well.” 
Bishop Anthony Poggo, secretary general of the Anglican Communion said: “On behalf of the Anglican Communion, and our Anglican brothers and sisters around the world, I wish you all a very happy Eid celebration, Eid Mubarak. I send greetings from Anglican Communion Office where I serve as Secretary General. The Church of Pakistan (United) is one of the 42 Provinces that make up the global Anglican Communion.” 

Archbishop Ian Ernest, Director of the Anglican Center in Rome, wrote, “I wish to express to you my brotherly greetings as you celebrate the Eid al-Fitr which brings to an end the period of Ramadan which you have faithfully accomplished with a great spirit of humility, sacrifice and obedience.”

The special guests of the evening – Federal Minister for Information Ataullah Tarar and US Consul General in Lahore Kristen Hawkins – said that the purpose of coming together with reference to Eid Qayamat al-Masih and Eid Ul Fitr was to promote unity, cooperation, and inter-faith harmony.

Addressing the participants, Information Minister Ataullah Tarar said that such beautiful interfaith harmony celebrations should continue. 

“We are grateful to Bishop Marshall who has brought us all together like a bouquet of flowers in this Eid get-together. Many Sikh brothers are participating in their religious festivals in Pakistan which is a proof that Pakistan is a peace-loving country,” he said.

In her speech, US Consul General Kristen Hawkins thanked the Church of Pakistan for hosting the
special event. 

“I know the recent days and weeks have been marked by celebrations for many individuals in this room as some celebrated Eid and some celebrated Easter. So, I look forward to the conversations that we will continue to have tonight and beyond about how we can collectively work to build a brighter future for individuals of all backgrounds and faiths,” she said.

Other speakers, including Senator Khalil Tahir Sindhu, Sardar Kalyan Singh and Maulana Asim Makhdoom, said that the event would send a message of love, peace and brotherhood to the whole world. 

The event was attended by bishops of the Church of Pakistan, ecumenical leaders and notables from
all walks of life.

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