Lahore: Foreseeable damage to four churches prompts protests from PPP

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Anticipating damage to four churches falling in the route of the Metro train, Pakistan People’s Party held a protest in front of the Lahore Press Club on December 17. The protesters were chanting slogans against Punjab Government’s Orange Line Metro Train project. There are plans to use land of four churches, which has prompted protest from the PPP Minority Wing Punjab.

Christians in Lahore

This protest was led by PPP activist Chaudhary Manzoor Ahmed and Jahan Ara M Wattoo. The protesters demanded that the authorities should review their plan so that the churches are damaged. They were carrying placards against the government and termed the project controversial. At this occasion, Jahan Ara M Wattoo said that the project will not only taint Lahore’s historic identity. It was further claimed that many people would be forced to vacate their houses.

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Jahan Ara further said that her party was always believed to be pro-minorities, she added that it is very unfortunate that government is not trying to protect the properties, honor and lives of the minorities. She urged the government to use the resources on health, education, sanitation and other needs of the public.

The protesters demanded that the Chief Minister of Punjab must take steps to preserve the cultural heritage of Lahore. They said that the government must not hurt the religious sentiments of Christian community, and should avoid distressing or pressurizing the Christian minority of Pakistan.”

Previously, LHC had directed to halt construction work around eleven buildings which include, Supreme Court Lahore Registry, the General Post Office, the Aiwan-i-Auqaf, Saint Andrews Church and Mauj Dariya shrine- which would be affected by the metro train project. Advocate Azhar Siddique presented an objection that there was an unequal allocation for the metro train project with regard to the provincial budget.

In a handout issued on May 4, 2016, the Directorate General Public Relations plainly declared “18 Marla of Church land and 18 Meters of Boundary wall of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church near Bohar Chowk will be utilized for stairways of Orange Line Train Project Station.”

In May, 2016 No church or mosque will be damaged for the Metro Train in Lahore, clarified Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Punjab. While defending the Orange Line Metro Train Project, CM Shahbaz Sharif said that fabricated hurdles are being tossed in order to thwart the execution of projects of public interest.