The prayer & worship places are a basic right of every citizen and religious minorities
Naveen Walter, HRFP
On 22 June 2020, the construction of the first Hindu temple in the Pakistani capital Islamabad began. This was a long-standing demand by the minority community put in action by the Pakistani Government. This was noticeablya big step for the Hindu community in Pakistan because Pakistan is the home to eight million Hindus. In Islamabad where approximately 3,000 Hindu resides faced difficulties to practice their religionâ€“ due to lack of temples.
The new temple planned for Islamabad, was supposed to be a symbol of tolerance. Instead, violence and controversy have turned it into an emblem of Pakistanâ€™sâ€™ troubled relationship with its religious minorities. Several Muslim clerics ruled that no Hindu temple should be built because Pakistan is a Muslim country.
However, few organisations are taking stands for the rights of the minorities such as Global Human Rights Defence partner organisation in Pakistanâ€“Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP)â€™â€™ is demanding the restoration of temple construction in Islamabad, which was halteddue to the pressure from the Islamist clerics and leaders. Mr. Walter,the president of HRFPsaid â€œthe Hindus temple construction should be as normal as mosques.Every religion has the right to construct their religious places to worship in any places around the worldâ€™â€™.
This discriminatory nature against minorities in Pakistan does not stay limited towards establishment of religious places. It has also been escalated to many minority communities and attacking individuals, for example the recent case of Nadeem Joseph. Nadeem Joseph was a Christian man who moved with his family to Peshawarâ€“a Muslim settlement area. He received threats from the community leaders to leave, but when he made it clear that he was not leaving his new house, his neighbourâ€™s murdered both Joseph and his mother-in-law.
Mr. Walter further said â€œincidents with minority groups and individuals happen differently but the resemblance of the religious extremistsâ€™ mindsets looks the same. We must ask the question that if the Hindu temple construction is terminated , does that mean these â€˜extremistsâ€™will decide whether a temple, church or any religious worship place should be established or not? Till when will the minorities face this oppressing discrimination!!!!â€