By Haroon Nasir
Where do you think Muslims and Christians celebrate Christ’s birth together? One of the answers is: where it is least expected, in Pakistan.
In last December, the Gulshan Centre for the Study of Islam and Christianity in Mansehra partnered with local Islamic scholars to hold a well-attended carol service with local Christians and Muslims celebrating the birth of Christ – together. And during Ramadan, the two use to organize aniftar dinner, where Christians and Muslims are breaking the fast together. The center, which was established by Pakistani Christians in 2009, serves as a platform for Christians and Muslims to discuss both theological issues and everyday ones.
As a Muslim-majority country, Pakistan is often criticized for not caring enough about minority rights or ensuring minorities’ equal participation in political and social processes. There have even been incidents of discrimination, violence and hate against them.
But this is not the only reality in Pakistan. There have always been people and organizations from many religious communities working for communal harmony and interfaith understanding. Christians might be less than two per cent of the total population of Pakistan, for example, but they have undertaken many initiatives to promote interfaith dialogue in the country, especially between themselves and the majority Muslim population.