02/23/2023, 12.43
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Karachi: Lent, students pray for peace and stability

by Shafique Khokhar

Yesterday, a group of young people attended the mass presided over by Archbishop Travas. In his homily he called for "penance and acts of sacrifice" such as fasting to draw closer to Christ. But new elements of tension emerge in political world: in protest, some allies of former premier Imran Khan purposely handed themselves over to the police to be arrested.

Karachi (AsiaNews) - An ideal time of "prayer for peace" in the region and in the world, for the "stability" of the country, to show "comfort and solidarity" to the most unfortunate, to make gestures of "penance and sacrifice" to strengthen the faith.

Lent is an opportunity for renewal, as the Archbishop of Karachi, Mgr Benny Mario Travas, emphasised in his homily yesterday, celebrating Ash Wednesday Mass before a group of students gathered in St Patrick's Cathedral. The period of preparation for Easter, he added, is an auspicious time to "return to the Lord, confess and change one's life" by following the commandments. 

"In these days of Lent," the prelate noted in his reflection, "we must do penance and make sacrificial gestures" such as that of "fasting" that allows us to "experience on our skin the pain of Christ".

He added, that this experience "allows us to get closer to God" and to be more united "with one another". Mgr. Travas concluded his reflection by invoking peace and stability in Pakistan, on the same day on which the political atmosphere in the country has been decidedly overheated following the decision of some Pti (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) leaders to be arrested "on purpose" as a sign of protest. 

The attack on 17 February by an extremist group on the city's police headquarters, which killed at least four people and injured 14 others, and the explosion of rudimentary devices and gunfire that filled the air with smoke in the area between Jinnah Hospital and Sindhi Muslim is compounding tensions.

"I pray for peace," said a second-year student, Myra Anastasia, addressing those present, "and I pray for the prosperity of our Pakistan. People have huge problems, some have nothing to eat; my parents taught me to save money at this time and help the poor, so that they can experience the joy of the risen Lord'. 

Adding to the tension in the country, right at the beginning of Lent, was the decision by some Tpi leaders to 'voluntarily' turn themselves in to the police in Lahore and be arrested in a manner better known as 'Jail Bharo Tehreek'.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Asad Umar and Azam Swati, among others, ended up in handcuffs, together with other second-ranking elements of the party and supporters, a total of about eighty people. The basis of the protest was the attack, in their words, on 'fundamental rights' guaranteed by the Constitution and the 'economic disaster' resulting from the choices of the current government.

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