Posted by: Titus Presler | October 15, 2009

Christian life continues at Pakistan-Afghan flashpoint

Amid the worsening political and security situation in Pakistan, Christians continue be stalwart in the Muslim-majority country even in close proximity to centers of Taliban activity.

Bishop Mano Rumalshah of the Diocese of Peshawar, which includes all of the Northwest Frontier Province, reports that he was very buoyed up by his visit last weekend to the congregation at Tank, which is about 100 kms. from the Afghan border and about 100 kms. south of Bannu, in South Waziristan, now widely known to be the center of Taliban activity and influence on both sides of the border.

“There were about 200 people at church,” the bishop said in a telephone conversation today, “and quite a number of young people were confirmed.”  He found the spirit of the parishioners to be strong and enthusiastic, not downcast by either the continuing violence or the disabilities that Christians suffer as a small minority.  The church at Tank (pronounced Tahnk) consists of about 128 families.

The Christian hospital at Tank, like Pennell Hospital in Bannu, continues to offer medical assistance to all who are wounded in the violence, as well as providing the ordinary range of medical services.  “It is a place of great service to the people of the region,” the bishop said.  “They are saying, ‘Come one, come all: we will clean your wounds.'”  The hospital is an ecumenical venture, with major support coming from American and Finnish churches.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports today, “Streams of civilians jammed into cars and trucks Wednesday to flee the militant stronghold of South Waziristan as the government pounded the area with airstrikes ahead of an expected ground offensive against the Taliban. Bombing runs over suspected militant hide-outs have sharply increased in recent days after a string of bloody attacks on military and civilian targets killed scores of people across Pakistan.”

“Yes,” said Bp. Rumalshah with reference to the recent spate of well coordinated armed attacks and suicide bombings, “the situation in the country overall is terrible, just incredibly terrible.”

For more on the courageous ministry of the Diocese of Peshawar, see its website:


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