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Archbishop to visit Pakistan at 'crucial time'

Wednesday 16th November 2005

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is to visit Pakistan next week at what he says is a highly important period for the country.

"This is a crucial time to be visiting Pakistan. 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.

"This is also a very important time for Pakistan's faith communities - the good relations between Christians and Muslims in many parts of the UK and in Pakistan provide a platform for building further and for eradicating mistrust and misunderstanding. I am pleased to be able to visit Muslim students, scholars and leaders in the Islamic University of Islamabad and elsewhere.

"I am particularly delighted to be sharing in fellowship with the Church of Pakistan at this point in its history and learning of its mission and ministry in some of the most challenging parts of the country. And I am looking forward to the celebrations of the long and fruitful ministry and leadership of Bishop Malik as Bishop."

The Archbishop, together with Mrs Jane Williams, will travel to Pakistan next week at the invitation of the Church of Pakistan, whose Moderator is the Bishop of Lahore, the Rt Revd Alexander Malik.. The Archbishop and Mrs Williams will be accompanied by the Bishop of Clogher, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Jackson. Dr Jackson is the chair of the NIFCON, the Network for Inter Faith Concerns in the Anglican Communion.

During his visit Dr Williams will pay courtesy calls on the President of Pakistan and the country's Prime Minister together with other senior politicians and will visit those recovering from the recent earthquake disaster.

The Archbishop's tour will take in meetings with congregations and visits to churches and church projects and he will lead a retreat for the Bishops of the Province. Towards the end of the visit Dr Williams will preside and preach at a special service in Lahore to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the consecration of Bishop Malik.

The Archbishop has also 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 madrassa - a religious school - during the course of the trip.

The Archbishop will be back in the UK in time for the enthronement of Dr Sentamu as Archbishop of York.

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