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Schools to ignore Independence Day

Educational institutions fear violent backlash from Balochistan separatists reporter, Quetta

August 1, 2011

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Christian schools in Quetta Apostolic Vicariate will not be observing Independence Day this year because of fears of violence from separatist groups. All nine Catholic schools in Balochistan province will be closed on August 14, Pakistan’s Independence Day. “No patriotic events have been organized for the past two years because the fear of being attacked is so strong,” said Father Abid Saleem, organizer of a four-day training course for catechism and Sunday school teachers that ended yesterday at the bishop’s house in Quetta. “Christian schools have to tread very carefully and not offend separatists in the province. We cannot sing the national anthem or hoist Pakistan flags in our schools, since the killing of three Baloch leaders in 2009”, the priest said. There are several armed separatist groups in the region, including the Balochistan Liberation Army and the Baloch Liberation Front, which are seeking an independent homeland from Pakistan and Iran. An ongoing offensive against these and other tribal separatist groups is also making it difficult for Church run and government schools to operate day to day,  Father Saleem added. Catholics in Quetta Apostolic Vicariate numbered 30,518 in 2010 out of a total population of 7,83,4116. Related Reports Church promotes peace amid violence
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