Prime Minister Imran Khan has shown interest in developing Sirkap – an archaeological site near Taxila into a pilgrimage destination for Christians.
The site is believed to have been visited by St. Thomas late in the 2nd century on his visit India and Pakistan.
Although the tale of St. Thomas’ journey to this region is from apocryphal texts, and not endorsed by the Catholic Church, it has inspired the faith of many Pakistani Christians.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of faithful travel for miles to visit the St. Thomas’ throne. There, they pray and baptize their babies and adults.
Though the site is protected under the Antiquities Act and comes under the UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has not received enough funding for upkeep and preservation.
The Pakistan Catholic Bishops Conference (PCBC) raised this issue with Prime Minister Imran Khan in a recent meeting. The conference offered its assistance and demanded custody of the site in return.
The PCBC proposed to pay taxes on the land and to provide funds for upkeep and preservation of the holy site. They even suggested building a shrine at Sirkap to officially declare it as a religious destination.
PM Khan, who is very keen to promote Pakistan as a tourist destination, seemed very interested in the idea. He said he would discuss the concept in the federal cabinet’s next session.