‘Act of bigotry’: Amnesty International urges Pakistan to reverse decision halting temple construction

Staff Report

The Amnesty International on Tuesday urged Pakistan to reverse a decision halting the construction of a temple in the federal capital.

“Everyone has a right to freedom of religion or belief, a right that is guaranteed in Pakistan’s constitution and its international obligations. Halting the construction of a Hindu temple in Islamabad is an unconscionable act of bigotry that must be reversed immediately,” the organisation said.

According to The News, the government last week decided to consult the Council of the Islamic Ideology (CII) on the sensitive issue as the construction work at the site of Hindu temple in Sector H-9/2 has also been stopped for want of a building plan.

The government will seek guidance and consultation from the CII and also respect the opinion of religious circles and leaders in this connection, the spokesman for the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony had earlier said.

The plot measuring 3.89 kanals was allotted by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) on December 21, 2017, following the CDA board’s decision taken at its meeting on December 9, 2016.

Earlier reports of government land and funds being allocated for the construction of the temple had been circulating on social media. The Ministry of Religious Affairs had made it clear that it assists religious minorities in repairing and renovating existing places of worship, not building new ones.

Leading cleric Mufti Taqi Usmani and chairman of the government’s Central Route Hilal Committee Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman have also opposed the construction of the temple at the government’s expense.

The foundation stone of the temple was laid recently in Sector H-9 of Islamabad, the land of which was allotted during the previous regime.

IHC reserves decision on petition filed against construction of temple

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday reserved judgement on a petition filed against the construction of a Hindu temple in Islamabad.

During the hearing today, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) told the court that the plot was allotted after consultations from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Special Branch and the Islamabad administration.

The CDA also told the court that the work was halted due to lack of building plan for the temple.

Last month, Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved the release of funds for the construction of the first Hindu temple in Islamabad.