FATA's Christians 'snubbed' at president's annual Christmas dinner

Published: December 21, 2015
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PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

PESHAWAR: In a first in over a decade, Christians from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) will not be able to attend the annual Christmas dinner at the President House scheduled for today (Monday).

The tightly knit, small Christian community in the tribal areas has been silently protesting against the decision of the President House for not sending invitations with some even contacting government officials over the apparent snub but to no avail.

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Wilson Wazir, who was appointed as one of the first minority Maliks (tribal elder) earlier in June this year, told The Express Tribune that it was for the first time in more than a decade that the Christians from Fata were not invited for the official dinner.

“It gives the community a feeling of being outcasts. I have attended 12 Christmas dinners over the years but this time we have been left out,” he lamented.

At least two other elders from the community also claimed they had not been invited for the event. When they asked for the official reason, they were told that they had not been given security clearance.

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When contacted, an official from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony told The Express Tribune that the security clearance of Fata’s Christians had not been received from the concerned departments. “We could not send them invitations without official approbation,” the official said requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to speak.

“I am uncertain as to why we are being alienated without any reason” said Wilson Wazir, holder of Sitara-e-Imtiaz, the third highest civil award, which was awarded to him in March this year in recognition of his services for minorities.

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Wazir appealed to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi to intervene and help the community to feel more at home.

Around 15 to 20 invitations are sent every year to Christians living in Fata to attend the Christmas dinner in Islamabad. There are an estimated 15,000 Christians in Fata, majority of which have been living there for centuries. Their churches are mostly located inside the political compounds, structures from the colonial era.

This year, after a struggle of decades, minorities were finally offered equal status as the rest of the tribesmen. The decision was partially aimed at addressing the grievances of non-Muslims in the area who had been subjected to constant fear by various militant outfits and at times threatened to migrate to other areas.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • Point
    Dec 21, 2015 - 6:30PM

    Wow! Wilson Wazir!! could someone at least do a documentary on these FATA Christian tribes :)Recommend

  • S.R.H. Hashmi
    Dec 21, 2015 - 7:32PM

    It is really shameful that Christians in FATA numbering around 15,000 who used to get 15 to 20 invitations to the President’s annual Christmas dinner have been totally ignored this year, with not even one invited to the occasion. The Christians so ignored include among them Wilson Wazir, holder of Sitara-e-Imtiaz, the third highest civil award, which was awarded to him in March this year in recognition of his services for minorities.
    What is even more disgusting is that this slip up was pointed out to the official circles but even that did not have any effect.

    The reason for excluding the FATA Christians from President annual Christmas dinner was given as non-receipt of security clearance for them. However, Wilson Wazir, who was awarded Sitara-e-Imtiaz only in March this year could not have turned into a security risk in the intervening few months.

    There is still time for the government to rectify its blunder and avoid this great injustice to a community which has rendered excellent services to the country in the fields of defence, justice, health, education and in fact in nearly all fields.

    The government better hurry up with the invitation, accompanied by a due apology.

    KarachiRecommend

  • Malik
    Dec 21, 2015 - 9:20PM

    In Quaid’s Pakistan this discrimination could never have occurred. The President must make amens for this oversight or folly and punish those responsible. Recommend

  • Truth Sayer
    Dec 22, 2015 - 12:18AM

    @Malik
    this IS Qaid’s Pakistan.
    The Qaid said even if you speak the same language, eat the same food and live in the same land, you cannot live with your neighbor. He said this 1000s of times and then said one time you can.Recommend

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