KARACHI: On Christmas Eve, churches in Pakistan witness large gatherings and could be vulnerable to attack by terrorists and extremists. As a security educator, I suggest the following security measures for churches:
1) The management of churches should form a security committee of unarmed volunteers to perform various security duties before and during Christmas Eve. 2) The building of the church, including its courtyard, should be combed during the day before service commences for any suspicious item, unattended bags, parcel, etc. Similarly, flower pots, garden hedges and even the roof of the church should be checked. 3) All doors, windows and ventilators should be locked except the entrance doors of the church which should be guarded by volunteers. 4) A body search of all men, women and children entering the church should be carried out by male and female volunteers at the entrance. 5) A separate place should be set aside for parking cars, motorcycles and bicycles and its location should be determined by the church’s managing committee in consultation with the area traffic police. All places of parking should be manned by volunteers. 6) Lights should be installed around churches. 7) Services of private security companies may be used to guard entrances and area around the church. 8) A power generator should be on standby in case of power failure. 9) The provincial home department should ensure that a police mobile is positioned at every church on the night of Christmas Eve and the following day. 10) Volunteers and the police should be extra vigilant while service inside the church is in progress and at the time when the participants leave after the end of the Christmas Eve service.
11) Cemeteries of Christians should also to be guarded by the police on Christmas day, since these will be visited throughout the day by people for offering prayers and laying flowers on the graves of their relatives and dear ones. 12) Volunteers of the church security committee should comb the cemetery area and check for any hidden bomb or improvised explosive device. These volunteers should also carry out a body search of every person entering the cemetery.
Sqn ldr (Retd) S Ausaf Husain
Published in The Express Tribune, December 3rd, 2012.
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