Archbishop of Canterbury to Visit Troubled Pakistan

The Archbishop of Canterbury will visit trouble Pakistan next week, expressing deep concern over the aftermath of the deadly earthquake last month and interfaith conflicts.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will visit Pakistan next week, expressing deep concern over the aftermath of the deadly earthquake last month and interfaith conflicts.

In a statement released by the Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) Thursday, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams – head of the 77-million strong Anglicans worldwide – said now it is "a highly important period for Pakistan."

On Nov. 8, the country marked the one-month anniversary of the 7.6-magnitude quake, which claimed more than 73,000 lives in Pakistan and left as many as 3 million homeless.

"I know that there are many concerns about those who may have survived the recent earthquake but whose future is still threatened by the onset of extremely cold weather conditions. I hope to learn about the things being done to transfer aid to people in the direst of needs," Williams said in the statement.

According to the ACNS, the Archbishop will pay courtesy calls on the President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf and the country’s Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz together with other senior politicians and will visit those recovering from the recent earthquake disaster.

As a donor conference for Pakistan quake was held on Saturday, Pakistan received pledges worth $5.827 billion for recovery and reconstruction from international donors, exceeding the Prime Minster’s target appeal of $5.2 billion, according to the Associated Press.

With the severe cold winter is coming in Pakistan, aid agencies have focused on providing appropriate shelter to all the displaced survivors. Apart from distributing tents, relief teams are currently shifting to deliver other shelter alternatives such as corrugated sheets with kerosene lamps and tool kits, according to a latest situation report by the Action by Churches Together (ACT).

In addition to chaos left in the aftermath of last month’s quake, the burning of Christian settlements in Sangla Hill, west of Lahore, capital of Punjab province, earlier this month has caused disrupted peace in the country, causing Christian-Muslim tension to rise in the area and stirring a nationwide response.

"This is also a very important time for Pakistan’s faith communities - the good relations between Christians and Muslims in many parts of the U.K. and in Pakistan provide a platform for building further and for eradicating mistrust and misunderstanding," William commented.

According to ACNS, the Archbishop has accepted an invitation to deliver two lectures at the Islamic University in Islamabad. He will meet with local Muslim religious leaders, thinkers, and scholars. He will also visit a Muslim religious school during the course of the trip.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was invited by the Church of Pakistan to have meetings with congregations and visits to churches and church projects, ACNS reported. He will be leading a retreat for the Bishops of the Province of Lahore, near where the recent attacks on churches by hundreds of Muslim took place.

In addition, to mark the 25th anniversary of the consecration of the Moderator of the Church of Pakistan – the Rt Rev. Alexander Malik – Williams will preside and preach at a special service in Lahore. Malik is also the Bishop of Lahore.

The Archbishop, together with Jane Williams, will be traveling together, ANCS says. They will be accompanied by the Bishop of Clogher, the Rt Rev. Michael Jackson. Dr Jackson is the chair of the NIFCON, the Network for Inter Faith Concerns in the Anglican Communion.