Christmas in Pakistan (FB Ali)

Some pictures from a Karachi newspaper on a rally and procession on Karachi's main street — as part of the Xmas celebrations by the Christian community (in which many local Muslims join). There are more pictures in the paper (at this link).







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40 Responses to Christmas in Pakistan (FB Ali)

  1. Warpig says:

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Ghostship says:

    I know this is essentially religious observance but I often wonder if it’s a poke in the eye to a certain fundamentalist strain of Islam. For instance, I came across a photograph of Muqtada As-Sadr celebrating another birthday, that of the Prophet, at the Angry Arab which amused.

  3. Ingolf says:

    That’s lovely. So much vibrancy and in many cases, seemingly unaffected joy. Makes for a nice change.

  4. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Must be under very heavy security, lest a Takfiri blows them up.

  5. euclidcreek says:

    Made me smile, thank you.

  6. JMH says:

    Agreed but it is Muslims who are providing that security for their fellow countrymen that they may celebrate.

  7. Valissa says:

    These photos, and ones in the linked article, are the very definition of ‘festive.’ They made me smile 🙂
    Thanks so much for sharing them!
    I found this video of a young Pakistani worship band singing Christmas songs in English and one of the Pakistani languages (Urdu?) on YouTube. Beautiful voices, nice guitar, and great musical charm…

  8. FB Ali says:

    I’m glad you liked the pictures. Yes, the other songs are in Urdu.
    Another nice Christmas song (also in Urdu – but it can be enjoyed by anyone) is at:

  9. Shah_alam_ca says:

    It’s a step in the right direction and one of hope but is it enough! Certainly not. I am not even sure if these cosmetic steps will relieve the fear that pervades amongst the non-Muslim Pakistanis: and when I say non-Muslims it also includes some denominations of Islam that the State has labelled as non-Muslims.
    Yet, it’s something that is heartening. Here is another set of photos published in the daily Dawn—a day ago—which show the federal minister for minority affairs (a Christian) in the celebrations.

  10. Regina says:

    Do Christians accompany Muslims in their celebrations .Lets live as brothers and sisters irrespective of religion. Lovely pictures.

  11. elkern says:

    Thanks you FB Ali, that’s beautiful, and wonderfully crazy, too. People are such a trip!
    I particularly enjoyed the brightly festooned camels – and the guy riding backwards (third camel back).
    Does Santa have flying camels pull his sleigh when he visits Pakistan?
    PS, I mean no offense – I just like to celebrate Humanity with humor)

  12. FB Ali says:

    No offence taken! Glad you enjoyed it.
    I’m grateful to Col Lang for reposting this 2016 post.

  13. GeneO says:

    FB Ali –
    Thank you. There used to be a small Mawlid celebration in Seattle. Have not seen nor heard of it in years though.

  14. kao_hsien_chih says:

    It’s funny, I guess, that many Muslims should feel hostile to Christmas. As Babak reminded us in the other thread, Jesus is a Prophet of Islam, after all, and his birth is a miracle described in the Koran. Christmas is something that, I wonder, Muslims should be a day worthy of celebration for themselves as well as Christians. But it’s not for me to suggest what Muslims should think, I suppose.

  15. Muzaffar Ali says:

    Beautiful post. As a Muslim…..and learning Bible, going to Church on Sundays…. yes that was Pakistan back in 1953…very understanding and inclusive Pakistan…in some respects still is.
    Our parents encouraged us to learn about other religions….

  16. SmoothieX12 says:

    Wonderful! We always celebrated Novruz Bairam in Caucasus, while being Russians. It was celebrated even in 1960s and later in USSR. Merry Christmas everyone.

  17. Linda says:

    Thank you for posting

  18. Kooshy says:

    Marry Christmas and happy new year to colonel Lang and his family as well as to all corespondent and commenters of his fine blog SST.
    And a special marry Christmas and a hope for a better year, for all Christians of Western Asia, especially Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. May peace be upon them.

  19. pB says:

    not to be disrespectful or imply these people are disingenuous , but i find it a little odd in these places in Asia where Christianity had technically existed in some case longer than in part of Europe that they would seem to use purely western symbols,
    maybe missionaries would play a role in “reviving” nominal christian sects, or its just 2019 and everything is universalized and consumerism, i mean i think i could easily an othodox christian parade from a catholic or protestant one.

  20. Seamus Padraig says:

    Lovely pictures! Usually, when we see such large crowds of people marching somewhere, it’s a demonstration of some sort and the people are angry. But these are truly happy faces. So nice to see. And those Bactrian camels–a nice touch!–make me think of the Three Kings of Orient.
    Merry Christmas to all!

  21. turcopolier says:

    pB In my experience the popular symbols of Christmas have spread from the West to all the parts of the Orient wherever they are allowed. The Christmas spirit is everywhere now.

  22. Factotum says:

    I travel a lot and “collect” countries, now up to Travel Century Club Silver status- 150 countries.. Often asked what is my favorite country, and as I go through my mental Roladex Pakistan always comes up on top. The people, the scenery, the color, the architecture, the vitality, the food, the hotels, the absence of generic international tourism, Pakistan has it all. Thank you for sharing this new dimension. Hope others get a chance to visit before China’s Belt and Road permanently takes away its relatively isolated uniqueness.

  23. Factotum says:

    Back roads from Oman (frankincense) through Petra and on to Bethlehem. Bypasses Yemen completely.

  24. FB Ali says:

    Thank you, Col Lang, for reposting this 2016 piece on Xmas.
    I would hope that Xmas is still celebrated in the same way in Pakistan (and the Middle East).

  25. turcopolier says:

    FB Ali may want to advise you on this.

  26. blue peacock says:

    FB Ali
    I hope the situation is the same today as in 2016 and such a procession could take place.
    I just read that a Pakistani professor has been sentenced to death under the blasphemy law.

    A court in Pakistan has convicted a university lecturer of blasphemy and sentenced him to death in a case rights groups have long cited as emblematic of fair trial concerns in such prosecutions in the country.
    Junaid Hafeez, a lecturer at the Bahauddin Zakariya University in the central Pakistani city of Multan, was accused of having insulted Islam’s Prophet Muhammad and its holy book, the Quran, verbally and on Facebook in 2013.

  27. Factotum says:

    OFF TOPIC – TRAVEL TALK: Been that route now several times from Kashgar over to Gilgit or Lahore to Tashkurgan. The route has been improved immensely and I suspect even the KKH has now been smoothed out and has lost all its former drama as the Chinese turn it into an all-weather highway and mow down the tiny villages in the way to make it more of a straight shot to Pakistani Indian Ocean ports.
    Hunza Valley is one of the most stunning places on the planet and worth several days to absorb it. If you can get all the way down to Lahore as well, you will not be disappointed.
    Yes, women are much more “free” in public than the media presents – be conservative, don’t draw attention and you can soon get a feel for how much more you want to explore on your own. Our guide explained, after arriving in a long linen sack, western women are not expected to dress the same as Pakistani women.
    During my first days sitting in our Lahore Hotel (former Hitlon – now locally owned) bakery and cafe I watched young Pakistani women drive up in their SUV’s wearing tight jeans and going in to pick up decorated birthday cakes for their children – while a few blocks away near the market areas one saw the full, full, full body coverage of women walking in groups, but often with dainty jeweled sandals peeking out under their heavy long hems.
    The Serena hotel chain were very nice, but there is also a state run hotel/motel chain in this area that is very adequate. Plenty of info on the standard travel website where you can get good advice. English was the language of the British Empire not all that long ago, so you still find a lot of English signage, shops road signs, and use as a secondary language in most public places. As well as an accessible language by most educated or traveled locals.
    It is not a country were one feels frozen out not knowing Urdu. I often find former British colonies to be more “British” in manners, language and ritual than perhaps one finds in England itself these days. Cricket in dress whites and tea at three are stll valued and ubiquitous, as well as polo, but they did invent polo in Pakistan so they get owners rights on that one.
    If you want to go more in depth into the mountains or smaller villages, I would recommend a local guide engaged at a trusted hotel. Or doing this whole trip in a small tour group – it is intense country so it helps to have someone smooth the way. Roads and driving is very treacherous – but the skills of the drivers in roads filled with bathtub sized pot holes, tuk tuks, donkeys and passenger-packed Toyota HiLo trucks, and now the huge Chinese “Belt traffic on the KKH.
    The Pakistani trucks are lavishly decorated and again are part of the very unique color and vibrancy one finds only in Pakistan. Chinese trucks on the other hand now sharing these back roads are dour and serious.
    Tourists are welcome – it is part of their economy. Plus they like the vote of confidence tourism represents that travelers are willing to look past the more lurid headlines this country also seems to generate. I hope you have a wonderful time – engage it on so many, many levels as its history is almost endless – one of the few sites on the planet that experienced the spontaneous development of civilization – in the Indus Valley.

  28. FB Ali says:

    Re your query, I’m afraid I’m out of touch with current conditions in Pakistan. I will pass on your query to someone able to answer it, and will forward the answer to you.

  29. blue peacock says:

    You should use a reputable operator to explore the mountain regions. There are many adventure travel companies and I’m sure you will find one with Spanish language guides. While you’ll pay more, they take the headache out of logistics and since they’ve been running tours in the region for many years they would likely have established good relations with the local communities.
    I would highly recommend Pakistan’s Hunza Valley and the Karakoram ranges.
    Another is a trip to Inner Dolpo in Nepal.

  30. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Elora Danan
    I would never ever take the risk of traveling in Pakistan. Not now. 40 years ago, before Arabization of Islam, one could travel there safely, no longer.
    The only safe places to travel in the Muslim world are now those within the Old Seljuk boundaries: Iran, Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Turkey. Everywhere else is a Salfi wreck, specially for non-Sunni.
    In terms of density of noteworthy historical sites, I would recommend Iran and Lebanon. A Spaniard, will feel quite at home in Iran, I should think.

  31. Factotum says:

    The hotel our small (4 persons) tour group used in Lahore was the former Hilton, now part of the Avari chain – but it shows how nice some of the older, local chain hotels can be in Pakistan. It is in a great location on the Grand Trunk Road, across from a gorgeous park and close to many thriving older local establishments and restaurants:

  32. Babak Makkinejad says:

    In 1936, no one, and I mean no one, had any understanding of the political philosophies of Fascism, Communism, Socialism, Free Market Liberalism etc. That knowledge did not exist. What existed was various human passions that were trying to gain Power to humiliate those who had opposing ideas. It was analogous to the 30-Year War or the War Between States, and equally “religious”.
    Franco ended the latest Spanish Civil War, one of many. As a foreigner, I am curious to know why Spaniards, over almost 2 centuries, chose to war among themselves; a very Arabian behavior.

  33. turcopolier says:

    The turcopolier rejoices that you have found meaning in your life through SST. Feliz Navidad. Sa’iid Eid al-Milad.

  34. A.I.S. says:

    My 101 on how civil wars happen:
    1rst Step: Something breaks. Resources becomes scarcer.
    2nd Step: Competition for resources increases, people enter coalitions to aquire these resources.
    3rd step: Due to more competition, resources get destroyed or wrongly allocated which further increases resource scarcity
    4rd step: Coalition fighting becomes more intense. Due to lower odds of defection, coalitions predominantly based on exclusive shared ethnicity, exclusive shared religion and/or exclusive shared social class dominate.
    5rd step: General degradation. Increase of bridge burning behaviour to show you fealty to your coalition, outright civil war.
    Can happens in Spain, can happen in Pakistan, can happen in Russia, can happen everywhere. It is part of why I, despite being a leftist, am a fairly strong immigration restrictionist. The more homogenous a country is the less bad the civil wars get.

  35. Babak Makkinejad says:

    War of the Roses?
    The War Between the States?
    I do not agree with your model.

  36. Mark Gaughan says:

    Merry Christmas! Pat, SST is the best.

  37. Ken Robert says:

    Thanks to you for reposting this, and thanks to Gen FB Ali for his original post. I read his memoirs the past year and it is a treasure, many insights. For me seeing pictures like this Christmas celebration is another take on the “lest we forget” theme. These photos, human joy and families, are the reason. Best wishes of the season and the coming year to everyone.

  38. fasteddiez says:

    Thank you very much for the reposting of this festive event yearly. The thought of Shia Muslim refugee children found themselves in Lebanon is both negative and positive at the same time. also, I would like to comment on the French article, whose first paragraph is the most stunning, exact, condensed, parable that goes on, interminably embroiled in strife, caused, in large part, by the usual suspects. I wish we had a verb like “GangrĂ©nĂ©” in our dictionary. Merry Christmas, and may all be here this time next year.
    Bien sûr, si possible.

  39. Leith says:

    is Yalda, or some form of it under a different name, celebrated in parts of Pakistan?

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