KARACHI: Construction for the first ever Hindu temple in Islamabad began on Tuesday, a long standing demand of the minority community, which was put into action under Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government.
But hold your applause because come Friday, the government had halted construction and directed authorities to consult the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), given the “sensitivity of the issue”.
The decision came after Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri called on PM Imran and informed him of the objections towards the temple raised by religious circles and opposition political parties, reported The Express Tribune.
The minister also said that the minority community, which has filed an application for the temple in 2017, was told that the Ministry of Religious Affairs does not release funds for the construction of minority places of worship. However, he added, it provides funds for repair and renovation.
According to Dawn, the demand to seek guidance from CII was made by clerics belonging to the JUI-F, Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith and those affiliated with Lal Masjid and other seminaries of the capital.
Pakistan is home to about eight million Hindus, according to estimates from the country’s Hindu Council. Islamabad is home to an estimated 3,000 Hindus.
“For the Hindu population in Islamabad, there is no place to gather … there was no temple, there was no community hall … which caused many issues for the community,” Lal Chand Mahli, parliamentary secretary on human rights and a member Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), told Al Jazeera.
Many took to social media to speak up against the government’s decision.
Actor Hamza Ali Abbasi, who announced last year that he would retire from the entertainment industry to live a more spiritual life, tweeted about the state of minorities in Pakistan. Although he didn’t directly connect his thoughts to the issue with the temple, it’s still relevant.
He said, “Muslims didn’t conquer Pakistan. We are a Muslim Majority Nation State”. And ended his tweeted with, “I admit that there is massive religious discrimination in Pakistan.”
Meanwhile, the hashtag #MandirTauBanega (translated to “The temple will be built”) is trending at #1 on Twitter in Pakistan on Saturday. Not all hope is lost, it seems.
Here’s what people are saying:
Meanwhile, a local news channel oddly took credit for the government’s recent decision, causing outrage on social media.