close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
 
July 6, 2020

The temple and the state

Editorial

 
July 6, 2020

The Sri Krishna Mandir in the H-9 sector of Islamabad should by now have been built – serving the needs of the 3,000 Hindus who live in the federal capital. There is no functional temple in Islamabad and in 2017 land had been granted for the building of the temple which will also contain a crematory and other facilities for the Hindu community. The foundation wall of the complex has been put up through money raised by the Hindu community, and the foundation stone of the temple was laid some days ago by Lal Chand Malhi, the parliamentary secretary on human rights and a member of the PTI.

But just as things seemed to be moving smoothly, with the PM granting approval for the building of the temple and promising a grant of Rs100 million, things have gone terribly wrong. Construction has been halted, and we have yet another instance of Pakistan refusing to honour a promise made to its religious minorities. A petition was moved in the Lahore High Court against the building of the temple in an Islamic state, and senior members of the ulema led by the JUI-F’s Maulana Fazlur Rahman issued a statement accompanied by a fatwa stating that no temple could be permitted. Astonishingly, this stance was backed by Chaudhry Pervez Elahi whose party had been an ally of General Pervez Musharraf, who initially granted the right to construct the temple. Elahi stated that in ‘Riasat-e-Madina’, old temples could be repaired but no new ones built. This is obviously impossible since there is no functional temple in Islamabad in the first place. On top of it all, we also witnessed ugly displays of self-praise once construction was halted – not just by the religious right but also from elements in the media.

We need to think about where we are headed as a society. Do we really want to be a nation that refuses to give even the basic rights to those in the minority? Do we wish the world to see us as a closed society, squabbling over the tiniest of gestures made to persecuted communities? Instead of gleefully pointing out the terrible discrimination seen so often in India against Muslims and also in Europe where it occurs every now and then, we perhaps need to first look at ourselves. Why are we so insecure about handing over legitimate constitutional rights to our own citizens? Hindus are the largest minority in Pakistan, making up around two percent of the population. But even this is irrelevant. The prime minister had taken a decision. He had announced this before the Hindu delegation which visited him. It is now his duty and the duty of his government and its allies to make sure the promise made is fulfilled and that the temple is indeed constructed in Islamabad.