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Islamic activists halt construction of first Hindu temple in Pakistan's capital

Pakistan has an 8 million-strong Hindu population [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 July, 2020

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The temple would be the first new Hindu place of worship built in Islamabad since Pakistan's creation in 1947, but Islamic activists claim the move would be against Islam.
Islamic activists in Pakistan have lobbied to stop the construction of the capital's first Hindu temple, a project backed by Prime Minister Imran Khan as part of a pledge to protect religious freedom in the Muslim-majority nation.

Plans for the Shri Krishan temple in Islamabad earned government approval and £500,000 ($630,685) worth of state funding last week but have faced fierce opposition from some factions, The Guardian reported.

Petitions filed to the Islamabad high court questioning whether the temple had the necessary permission and whether state funding should be used for the project have seen construction halted, witht he issue now referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology.

The Pakistan Muslim League - Quaid, a faction within Khan's ruling coalition, has claimed the temple's construction goes "against the spirit of Islam". The Jamia Ashrafia, an Islamic institution based in Lahore, seperately issued a religious edit claiming the project was "non-permissible" under Islam.

The Hindu minority population of the Pakistani capital, however, have for years yearned for a proper place of worship and an appropriate place to cremate their dead, rather than having to travel hundreds of miles in some instances.

After rising to power in 2018, Khan promised to protect the religious freedom of Pakistan's 8 million-strong Hindu population.

If the project goes ahead, the temple would be the first to be built in Islamabad since Pakistan's creation in 1947.

"Halting the construction of a Hindu temple in Islamabad is an unconscionable act of bigotry that must be reversed immediately," Amnesty International said in a statement.

"Everyone has a right to freedom of religion or belief, a right that is guaranteed in Pakistan's constitution and its international obligations."

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