Pakistani Christians living in the north-western Khyber Agency are hopeful that they will be “treated as equals” now that the government has formally announced the appointment of two Christian “tribal elders” to represent members of the Christian community and give an official seal on their personal documentation.
Although it was originally declared in a communiqué published on 28th April this year, Pakistani newspapers only reported on 11th July that the government had officially confirmed that four non-Muslims (two Christians and two Sikhs) had been granted the status of “lungi (turban) holder” or “Speen Rubay” (tribal elder) for the first time in the area’s history.
“It is a momentous achievement,” said Wilson Wazir, one of the Christians appointed to the role. “After struggling for years we will now finally be treated as equals.”
According to Mr Wazir, non-Muslim tribal people have not been able to obtain properties because the lungi holders would not certify the documentation. “In most cases the local elders would either refuse attestation of our documents or would ask for gratification [a bribe] to do the needful,” he said.
The newly appointed non-Muslim lungi holders will have full powers to attest national documentation, including the computerised national identity card, domicile certificate, passport and education stipend documentation. Arshad Masih, chairman of the All-Fata Christian Organisation, is hopeful that the changes will enable Christians in the area to have rights to personal properties as well as access to government jobs in the region.
There are an estimated 2,500 Christians living in the Khyber Agency, one of seven districts in Pakistan’s north-western Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) where the majority of the population belong to Pashtun tribes. Church caretaker James Michael has also been granted the status of tribal elder.
- Give thanks for the appointment of Mr. Wazir and James Michael as tribal elders, and for their ability to represent the needs and issues of Christians in the area.
- Pray for these 2 men and their families, for wisdom, insight and integrity in their roles and for protection.
- Pray that they will find favour with God and Men, and that they will be a witness to their faith in the roles they have.
- Pray for increased recognition and acceptance of Christians in Pakistan.
Psalm 90 vs 17: “May the favour of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands.”