|The Army Camp at Landi Kotal over 100 years ago under the British Empire|
Christians in an army camp were forced last month to leave their homes, in which they and their ancestors had resided for nearly 100 years by the army. Landi Kotal, which is right on the lawless border with Pakistan, in the semi-autonomous tribal areas, has a base, previously occupied by the British, and now by Pakistan's Frontier corps, aka the Khyber Rifles.
The land was given to the Khugagel tribe for 100 years by the British in 1914. However, the army says the lease is up now, or that most of the Christians are there without official permission. The Christians say that Khyber Rifles personnel arrived on Sunday 14th at their church in the camp during prayer time, armed with batons and sticks, and ordered the Christians to vacate their homes immediately. The only ones allowed to stay were those who were army employees - typically cleaners. The Christians say they had no prior warning.
The local administration says 30 families were there without permission and were asked to leave, and claimed that they had given several written notices beforehand, and that the Christians ignored them. These were families of people who had retired from army service. Arshad Masih, a leader of Christians in the township said there were only 40 cleaner positions, and all the other Christians were jobless, especially as they did not have the 'tribal domicile and computerised national identity card of FATA' (Federally Administered Tribal Areas).
The Christians cannot purchase land to build new homes, as most land in the area is under dispute. Families have been split up, with the women and children having to stay in hotels or with relatives in other towns. The Christians have repeatedly asked for the decision to be reversed, and have staged protests about the evictions. In the cold climates on the Western fringes of the Himalaya mountain range, the Christians demand to know:
'Where will the poor go now that winter is approaching?'
Sources 1 and 2