Representing minorities: Karachi skyline will have ‘Asia’s largest’ cross

Published: April 13, 2015
The Henry Gill family is financing the construction of a 140-foot-tall cross in one of the cities oldest Christian cemeteries. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

The Henry Gill family is financing the construction of a 140-foot-tall cross in one of the cities oldest Christian cemeteries. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI: A 140-foot-tall cross made of roller-compacted concrete is nearly ready to dot the city’s skyline.

The structure is under construction at one of the oldest Christian cemeteries in the city but the donors were hesitant to share the exact locations. They did, however, claim that it will be the tallest cross in all of Asia.

Donated by the Henry Gill family, the construction work is supervised by Parvez Henry Gill himself. A mixture of steel and concrete, the structure will be 20 feet deep. The cross is expected to be completed in the next three months under the supervision of the architect Musa Gill.

“The image of Pakistan, as far as the minorities are concerned, is really tarnished,” said Parvez, the donor. “We are trying to tell the world that there are good people here too.”

Parvez hopes that this cross will reduce the stress and depression that prevails among the minorities in the city. “I agree that minorities have problems here and that is why some of them are migrating,” he admitted. “But this [cross] will build show that [attacks on minorities] are not the only thing happening in Pakistan.”

The donor did not rule out the possibility that the huge structure will pose a threat to the graveyard’s security. “It is God’s work,” he said, trusting that the structure will have divine protection. “We are not scared of anyone but God.”

Parvez realised that the construction work is risky and the people involved in the project are taking personal precautions. Some people were reluctant to work on this in the beginning since it is a cross, he said, adding that they managed to convince some people to join and now their team has both Muslim and non-Muslim workers.

“We gave them permission a year ago to build [the cross] but the construction work has recently become fast,” said Anwar Sardar, the general secretary of the Karachi Christian Cemeteries Board. Security threats are everywhere and anything could happen in this city but there is little we can do about it, he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2015. 

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Pacifist
    Apr 13, 2015 - 3:35AM

    Good. Cant wait for this project to be completed IA. Rest of the world needs to know that boogeyman image of Pakistan is false;there are many minorities here that are thriving and living prosperous lives. Do some of them get harassed by the radical groups? Yes. But name me one country where that doesnt happen.Recommend

  • Apr 13, 2015 - 4:27AM

    A huge cross,
    Lavishly decorated mosques,

    While the poor go hungry, while the destitute remain so.
    People have made their religions matters of their ego, morphed into show offs rather than the humanitarian service it all was originally.

    Time to return to the roots. End superficiality. Recommend

  • Tyrone
    Apr 13, 2015 - 12:10PM

    Waste of time, you say you want to project a positive image and then negate fears that extremists might target the structure.
    Also we’ve given our all for the nation and continue to do so, what we’ve got in return is scandalously less. The tribute to the Christians should be in text books and schools, so that no Christian student can ever again be half beaten to death, simply for refusing to say that Pakistan is not their homeland.
    To the leaders of the Christians in Karachi:
    The cemeteries are overflowing, there’s no place to bury the dead- we need a new graveyard not an ostentatious structure. Christians are living in squalor and poverty -bring them out of it, raise their standards of living, make them equals in society. Rekindle the sense of service and dedication that has been our selfless gift to the nation. A nation that has woefully failed to recognize our gift, but our nation all the same.
    This is a good intentioned but wrong endeavorRecommend

  • Rex Minor
    Apr 13, 2015 - 12:20PM

    There are no minorities in a democracy, but Pakistan legislations from the colonial period are discriminatory and they need to be amended. Peoples need recognition and respect and not their respective traditional or religious symbols.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • a muslim
    Apr 13, 2015 - 12:27PM

    Just hope the extremist retards don’t spoil this beautiful monument.Recommend

  • just_someone
    Apr 13, 2015 - 7:08PM

    An excellent initiative!
    We are all Pakistanis, no matter the color or religion.
    We should all celebrate and embrace each other, rather than fighting the ill-conceived designs of a few.Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Apr 13, 2015 - 10:06PM

    this is comforting to see that we have acceptance and show respect for others, i think its the second largest cross statue in the worldRecommend

  • another muslim
    May 18, 2015 - 2:49AM

    @a muslim:
    Agreed :).
    Its not just a cross but a product of many peoples hard work and beliefs. I have greats hopes it may also be a symbol of peace and undertanding.Recommend

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