The Islamic Republic of Pakistan was created in 1947. It borders with Afghanistan and Iran in the West, India in the East and China in the North East via the silk route.
Pakistan’s population is estimated at 231.4 million, its growth rate is estimated at 2.9% per year. By religion, about 95% Pakistan are Muslims, 2% are Christians, 2% Hindus and 1% other minorities.
The country is divided in four provinces; Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan and the Khyber Pakhtunkwa and Northern areas formerly known as NWFP. The Northern areas bordering China and Afghanistan are also administered by the Government of Pakistan. The capital is Islamabad.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, FATA and Northern areas runs for over 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) along the border with Afghanistan. Peshawar is its capital, and the Valley of Peshawar, fertile and well watered by the Kabul and Swat rivers, is its heart. This was also the heart of the ancient kingdom of Ghandara and is rich in archaeological remains. The northern half of the province consists of five river valleys running roughly parallel, north to south: the Chitral, Dir, Swat, Indus and Kaghan. These valleys are on the northern edge of the monsoon belt, so are fairly green and partly wooded in their southern sections. Northern Chitral and the upper regions of the Indus Valley are mountainous deserts, where cultivation depends entirely on irrigation. The KPK south of Peshawar, geographically, it is an arid zone and consists of low, Rocky mountains and wide, gravelly plains.
The warlike Pathans (or Pushtuns or Pukhtuns), who live in NWFP and the adjoining areas of Afghanistan, number about 20 million, making themselves a race apart, a chosen people, and no one has ever managed to subdue them. The Mughals, Afghans, Sikhs, British and Russians have suffered defeat at their hands. The Pathans are divided into numerous sub-tribes and clans, each defending its territory and honor. In addition, the Pathans serve as Pakistan’s first line of defense along the Durand Line, the border drawn in 1893 by Sir Mortimer Durand, then foreign secretary of British India.
Peshawar with population of about over two millions, is the provincial capital. At the eastern end is the famous Khyber Pass, leading towards Afghanistan. This frontier town is the meeting place for the South and central Asia with rich traditional culture. In the middle of the city is the famous Kissa Kawani (Story tellers} Bazaar where Caravans used to take a break and shared their stories and experiences.
The Christian Community in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Northern areas is nearly 165,000 with almost 55% from the Church of Pakistan, 40% Catholics, and another 5% Brethren, Full Gospel, Bible Church, and Anglican Orthodox.
Most Christians are ethnically Punjabis, being the descendants of the camp-followers of British Army of the late 19th century. They are mainly employed in menial work who form about at 80% of the Christian community.
Most Christians have been unable to improve their social and economic status. They remain unskilled, poorly educated, and economically are poorest of the poor.
DIOCESE OF PESHAWAR-CHURCH OF PAKISTAN
The Diocese of Peshawar (DoP), whose territory coincides with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is one of the eight (8) Dioceses that make up the Church of Pakistan (CoP), which was formed in 1970 as a result of a union between Lutherans, Scottish Presbyterians, Methodists and the Anglicans. The Church of Pakistan has a synod, which is supreme governing body.
Peshawar Diocese was created in 1980. It is one of the largest Diocese in the country in terms of area. The total number of Christians living in the Province is around one hundred and Sixty-FiveTthousand (165,000) out of a provincial population of around Twenty Eight (28) million.
Experiences and capacity of the Diocese of Peshawar,
The Diocese of Peshawar has solid infrastructure, enough volunteers, and full time workers to carry out the work of the Diocese. All the volunteers and workers contribute their time, skills and energy for the survival and the identity of the Church in this part of the world.
It is worth noting:
- At the time of Afghan Refugees influx, the Diocese of Peshawar was the first one to respond to the situation through its medical teams, and the volunteers for relief operation.
- The Diocesan Relief and Development has taken care of the Communities during heavy floods in the Province.
- Internally Displaced People (IDPs), Movement from SWAT Areas and Waziristan Areas During the Army Operation against Terrorism.
In addition to different humanitarian services, the Diocese feels proud to be the pioneer to introduce the following in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly the North West Frontier Province):
- Care and Rehabilitation for the Leprosy Patients
- First School, Resource and Training Base for the Mentally challenged children.
- Centre for the Physically Disabled with the Community Directed Approaches.
- HIV/AIDS Awareness project.
- Diocesan Medical, Educational and Community development services have gained a considerable recognition in the Country.
- Inter-Faith Activities were initiated by The Diocese in the Year 2004. Later this initiative turned into a Fellowship of different Faiths i.e. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs,Hindus, Baha’i, Chirtalis thus the Group turned into Faith Friends of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa now also know as Pakistan Council of World Religions.