Clerics, lawyers pile up pressure against construction of Hindu temple in Islamabad

In this photo provided by the office of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, Pakistani politician Imran Khan, chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, delivers his address in Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, July 26, 2018. Khan declared victory Thursday for his party in the country’s general elections, promising a “new” Pakistan following a vote that was marred by allegations of fraud and militant violence. (Tehreek-e-Insaf via AP)

Islamabad, July 3 (IANS) Days after the ground breaking ceremony at the land allocated for construction of a Hindu temple in Pakistan’s capital, religious organisations have hyped up the pressure on the government and the capital’s construction authority, prompting the authorities to stop construction work.

The first Hindu temple for Hindu minorities in Islamabad was recently allocated a land area of at least 4 kanals in Sector H-9/3 in Islamabad along with an additional fund of Rs 100 million, approved and released immediately by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

However, the decision did not go well with the religious organisations, who were quick to raise serious concerns over the construction of the temple in the capital, calling it against the norms and teachings of Islam.

In a fatwa against the construction of the temple, religious group ‘Jamia Asharfia’, an organisation comprising of leaders from different schools of thoughts of Islam, declared the construction of Hindu temple in Islamabad by the Iman Khan government against the Shariah.

“In a state, formed on the principles of Islam, preserving, maintaining and looking after the already present religious sites of other religions is correct as it provides them freedom to perform their religious rituals. However, construction of a new worship place of non-Muslims is not acceptable as per the Islamic Shariah,” read the fatwa.

Another religious organization has issued a statement, saying that allocation and construction of a Hindu temple in Islamabad is a clear violation of the capital’s master plan.

Ulema Mashaikh Federation of Pakistan (UMF), another religious organisation representing religious scholars from different schools of thoughts in Pakistan, has also condemned the government’s decision to construct a Hindu temple in Islamabad and has announced July 5 as a day of condemnation against the decision.

“July 5 will be marked as a day of condemnation against the government’s decision to construct a Hindu temple in Islamabad. We demand the government to reverse its decision with immediate effect,” read the press release.

A petition has also been filed in the Islamabad High Court, challenging the federal government’s decision to construct the temple.

The petition contented that the a temple for Hindus of Islamabad already existed in model village of Saidupur, located in Sector F-6 Islamabad, insisting that the government should renovate the existing one instead of constructing a new temple.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Religious Affairs Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Union Council of Sector H-9 and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) have been made respondents in the case.

“The land allotted for the construction of the temple be withdrawn, along with the funds allocated for the project,” advocate Tanveer Akhtar said in his petition.

The pressure and the uproar of the religious clerics has already shown its effect as the CDA has stopped the construction work on the site, amid increased threats piling up on the issue.

Sources within the CDA confirmed that the work on the site has been stopped as there is a petition in the Islamabad High Court, while the threat of religious groups is also serious.

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