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Christians worry about cemetery

Praise for restoration work but flooding still poses a big problem

Parishioners in Karachi celebrating this year's All Souls Day Parishioners in Karachi celebrating this year's All Souls Day
  • Pakistan
  • November 4, 2011
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Christians have praised the government for conserving the oldest Christian cemetery Karachi archdiocese but say more needs to be done to restore it to its former glory.

Saleem Edward says he is grateful he can easily reach the graves of his relatives and offer prayers, but major problems remain.

“Overgrown hedges and poor dirt tracks used to hinder access. However, grave sites are still prone to flooding which makes the place smell after every rain”, he said.

Edward was among hundreds who attended an All Souls Day Mass on Wednesday at the Gora Qabristan (white cemetery) in Karachi.

Father Richard D’Souza, the celebrant, thanked the city’s district government for recently installing two new gates and paving the pathways inside the graveyard.

Founded in 1839, the cemetery contains the graves of many British soldiers killed dating back to the colonial rule era. However it had fallen into a poor state after locals started dumping garbage, using it as a playground and vandalizing the grave stones.

“The presence of an illegal goat market nearby and no drainage system made it worse”, said Father D’Souza chair of the cemetery board.

The cemetery board appealed to the British Council which in turn helped kick-start moves to try and restore it.

The priest said the CARE Volunteer Group, an ecumenical NGO, will now clean the graveyard from time-to-time.

“The group offered their services in the past but the former board discouraged them for some reason,” he said adding that two meetings have been held with volunteers.

“They are people who can play an important role in saving this historic site. They can also contribute a lot by fundraising and using their contacts,” he said.

Roland de Souza, one of the volunteers, said the flooding is caused by roads surrounding the cemetery that were raised by about a meter.

Heavy rains turn it into a swimming pool, he said, adding that a proper drainage system is desperately needed to counter the problem.


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