Updated Sunday Apr 01 2018
PESHAWAR/MULTAN/QUETTA: Prayers marked Easter celebrations across the country amid high security, with heavy contingents deployed at various churches Sunday.
In Peshawar, the Easter procession began around 4am from All Saints Church in Kohati Gate area in which nearly 2,000 people participated, SP Security Sajjad Ahmad Sahabzada said while talking to Geo.tv. They marched through Jahangirpura, Namak Mandi, Qissa Khwani Bazaar and came back to the church, he added.
At least 300 police personnel with teams from the Bomb Disposal Unit, camera mobiles and sniper dogs also moved with the procession, the official said. The layer of security also included rooftop security and checkpoints, he added.
Sahabzada said they already have proper security arrangements for religious places, but police force is put on high alert on special occasions like Easter.
Besides the procession, special service is observed at almost 22 churches in Peshawar, said Pakistan Minority Council President Augustin Jacob.
Special arrangements for the day also include a trip for a group of students to Takht Bhai archaeological sites under a fellowship programme for Christian students.
In Multan, Easter prayers were held at 40 churches, attended by a large number of people. Security has been put on alert across the district as three churches were declared highly sensitive and 37 sensitive.
More than 500 security personnel were deployed at the churches where metal detectors were also installed to check all those entering for prayers.
In Quetta, special security measures have been put in place not at churches put also at recreational spots. According to Quetta DIG Abdul Razzaq Cheema, more than 5,000 security personnel were deployed across the city while FC officials were also on duty to prevent any untoward incident.
High security in Quetta on Easter has come in the wake of an attack on the city’s Bethel Memorial Methodist Church that occurred on December 17, a few days before Christmas.
The prayers that mark the beginning of Easter celebrations are followed by a feast at the houses of all those celebrating the festival.
Not just from each other, Easter greetings also poured in from government officials.
Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said they were with the Christian community in their celebrations. He added Christians and all the minority communities have played a vital role in the country’s progress.
Balochistan CM Abdul Quddus Bizenjo also greeted Christians on the festival saying minorities are an important part of Pakistan’s existence and to safeguard them and their rights is a collective responsibility.