PESHAWAR: Believers leave off traditional festivities of Christmas as victims of the September 22 blasts remembered.
The Christmas-related merriment remained faint on Wednesday December 25 as visitors to All Saints’ Church were weighed down by the grief of losing their loved ones in the deadly twin suicide bombings on September 22. A dark covering of murkiness cloaked the Church as local Christians gathered in large numbers for Christmas service, the first after the incident. The cheerless visitors were seen embracing and consoling each other; as majority suffered from the tragedy of losing loved ones in the deadliest ever attack on Pakistani Christian community. As a gesture of love, pictures of those who lost their lives in the blasts and messages of their relatives were put on show in the Church. The inconsolable relatives were touching pictures of their killed relatives with tears filled eyes. A number of of the visitors were gutted and were profusely crying and wailing. Many of the visitors lit candles in memory of the deceased persons.
One of the posters carried pictures of a killed young man, Wajid, with messages from his mother, sister and brothers. “My son I can’t live without you. Please come back,” the message of his mother states. “We are shattered and have yet to come to term with this tragedy,” said Advocate Shaukat Ghulam, one of the injured persons who had also lost his brother William Ghulam, a prominent educationist, his nephew, Noel William, and niece, Merab William. “My sister-in-law had received injuries and has still been on bed. In such like situation how could we celebrate Christmas?”
Mr Shaukat revealed that Noel was in final year of Khyber Medical College, while Merab was an intermediate student. “Apart from my brother, who was the principal of Government Centennial Model School, we lost several of qualified members of our community in those blasts,” he said, adding, “I fell with the blast and with in no time, my happy family was ruined.” Another one of the sufferers, Khurram Yaqoob 28 years old, lost his right eye as a result of the blasts said, ”With the first blast my ears were clogged and could not hear the second blast, but it had badly injured me as several ball bearings pierced through my body. While I am now having an artificial eye, I have still been receiving treatment for injuries.”
Vicar Reverend Ejaz Gill, led the service and prayed for peace and prosperity in Pakistan. In his homily he also prayed for the defeat of evil forces involved in affecting tranquillity in the society. He went on to pray for the souls of those killed in the blasts and hoped that God would provide courage to the bereaved families to overcome their sorrows.
Meanwhile, on the other hand, fail-safe security measures were taken up as heavy deputation of police was present on all the routes leading to the All Saints Church at Kohati Gate. Moreover, all the visitors had to pass through a metal-detecting walk-through gate with bio-metric system.