ISLAMABAD: To portray Pakistan’s tolerant nature towards the minorities, a book comprising of hundreds of pictures of churches from all over Pakistan was launched in Islamabad on Thursday evening.
In collaboration with the Asian Study group, the book was launched at Kuch Khaas – Centre for Arts, Culture and Dialogue. A small group of people came to watch the photographic presentation of the churches in Pakistan. Author of Churches of Pakistan, Dr Safdar Ali Shah explained the significance of each church and gave its historical background and importance.
“It was not by coincidence that the Christian community decided to join Pakistan, they had campaigned for a separate Pakistan along with the Muslims when the resolution was moved” said Shah.
It took Shah and photographer Syed Javaid Kazi a year to travel all over Pakistan, take pictures, compile and publish the book. Shah said that they had interacted with the locals to find out about the state of churches in Pakistan today.
He said that it was fascinating to see the architecture and design of the churches that just spoke for themselves, adding that Christianity in this part of the world was as old as Christianity in Europe.
Some churches replicated the builders’ experiences back home with typical European gothic designs and stained glass especially imported for its construction, however, Shah elaborated that as the religion grew in Pakistan the locals started building churches with material which was available in their areas.
He stated an example of a church in Multan that resembled a Sufi shrine because it was made with marble and tiles produced there. Similarly, one can find churches made of wood in Nathiagali.
Having such unique architecture and historical significance there is an effort being made to put some of the churches on the list of heritage sites. Some buildings when visited were very well preserved whereas others were not so well kept due to lack of funding.
“Most of the buildings are very old and so huge that they cannot be maintained. Maintenance is an issue with some but not all. Majority are very well kept” said Shah.
Speaking to The Express Tribune about the riots between locals and Christians, Shah said that the purpose of this book is to show the world and the international community just how well these places of worship are kept and preserved in Pakistan.
He said most of the issues or riots between religious groups were at a local level and were usually blown out of proportion. “People usually make religion an excuse to fight” said Shah. “However, there are so many new churches being built in Quetta”, he added.
The book, a first of its kind has 116 pages and almost 300 pictures of different churches across Pakistan.