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March 21, 2019

Community-based force planned to protect churches in Karachi

Karachi

March 21, 2019

After the recent worldwide incidents of attacks on the places of worship, especially the shootings at two mosques in New Zealand, a group of activists belonging to the Christian community have come up with a plan to form their own community-based security force with help of district administrations in order to protect churches and prevent terrorist attacks there.

On Wednesday, leaders of the Pakistan Churches Security Council (PCSC), a newly formed body for protecting churches on self-help basis, said the body will train volunteers to identify suspicious people, spot unclaimed bags, and detect arms, bombs and other potentially dangerous objects.

“We have confidence in our law enforcement agencies and our efforts will help them protect our worship places,” said Nauruus Ghori, who heads the PCSC. He added that police personnel deputed outside churches could not identify the suspicious people without help from the community.

There are more than 1,200 churches in various parts of the city; however, law enforcement agencies (LEAs) provide security mainly to big churches, he said. “We have an estimated statistic that there are around 1,200 churches across the city and in some neighbourhoods, there are more than 30 churches,” Ghori told The News. He was of the view that it was impossible for the LEAs to protect all the churches in the city, due to which the PCSC was planning to train volunteers from each neighbourhood at the church-level to ensure security at their places of worship.

Shepherd Anwar Javed, another activist from the Christian community, said the PCSC will start training volunteers from Karachi and it will expand the training to other parts of the country later. “With help of churches’ administration, we will identify a group of 10 to 15 youth from the community and then ask security organisations to provide them basic training including how to identify suspects coming to churches during religious festivals,” he said.

“Within a year, we are planning to train at least 6,000 volunteers,” Javed maintained. As our religious festivals – Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter – are fast approaching, some churches have already started issuing identity cards and car stickers to the community members as part of increased security measures,” he said.

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