The initiative stems from a joint project between Islamabad and the Ministry for Human Rights. The convoy departed from Rawalpindi on December 22. The carriages decorated festively with garlands, banners, Christmas trees, a Nativity Scene. Similar efforts "can build bridges between people professing different faiths."
Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - The Christmas train to promote peace between Christians and Muslims arrived in Faisalabad, Pakistani Punjab, greeted by a cheering crowd of hundreds of people, including ordinary people and authorities.
The train is a joint initiative of the government in Islamabad and the Ministry for Human Rights, headed by Christian Kamran Michael. In front of the audience, he said: "I am really very happy that government of Pakistan has taken such great step for its minorities and I congratulate you all for experiencing such great thing on the eve of Christmas. It is a unique initiative to boost the campaign for harmony and peace. Through this Christmas peace train we give powerful message to haters who do not tolerate followers of other religions. I assure you that government will think of more ways to endorse religious harmony in future as well".
The convoy, made up of five carriages, departed from Rawalpindi station December 22. It touched Peshawar, Lahore, Multan and Karachi. The train was decked with garlands, banners, Christmas trees, cardboard with the representation of the Nativity, with statues from the largest churches in the country.
Upon arrival, hundreds of children, women, youth and the merely curious flocked to the sides of the train to take selfies and shout slogans of peace and participate in the festivities with music and dancing.
Wajahat Masood, a well-known columnist and activist, praised both Christians and Muslims for having given birth to such a project. "It is a gesture really admirable - tells AsiaNews - that the government of Pakistan wished to participate in the joy of Christmas. This initiative is a proof that Pakistan respects its minority community and celebrates the festivals of minorities very well. These kinds of steps taken by government will enrich confidence of religious minorities and they will own the country by their heart as always they owned since the Pakistan came into existence. The love minorities have now for their country, no message of hate can erase it ever. I congratulate both Christians and Pakistan government on this successful effort".
Christian activist, Shazia George, adds: "There is a great need to promote the message of religious harmony at present, when terrorism and hate prevail, and the government and ministry of human rights through this effort has given a strong message that our nation want peace and coexistence. I really wish that these kinds of steps be taken in future as well, because these kinds of initiatives will become a bridge among different kinds of communities having different faith to come closer and celebrate all festivals peacefully".