National News Desk
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s government has given permission to construct a Hindu temple in Islamabad almost six months after the site was apparently stopped due to pressure from hardliners Islamists.
The Capital Development Authority (CDA) released a notice on Monday authorising the construction of a boundary wall for cremation ground for the Hindu community in sector H-9/2, Islamabad.
“Permission to construct the boundary wall around cremation ground for the Hindu community in sector H-9/2, Islamabad is hereby accorded in accordance with clause 4.I.I of Islamabad Capital Territory, Building Control Regulations 2020 ensuring that height of this boundary wall shall not accord 7′-0′,” says the notification, a copy of which is available with the PTI.
“It may either be a solid wall, or up to one foot it shall consist of solid masonry and remaining portion may be of light material such as fence etc. The height of the enclosure shall not be less than 3′-0′ in any case,” it says.
Earlier, some hardline clerics had warned the government not to allow the construction of the temple in Islamabad.
In July, the CDA halted the building of the boundary wall on the plot planned for the temple, citing legal reasons.
Religious Affairs Minister Pir Noorul Haq Qadri forwarded the matter to the Islamic Ideology Council (CII)-Pakistan’s state-run council of clerics-for advice along with a summarising grant of Rs 100 million to the Prime Minister for the construction of the house.
In October, the Council, which advises the government on religious matters, reported that there were no constitutional or Sharia constraints on the construction of a temple in Islamabad or any other part of the country.
The decision, signed by 14 members of the CII, added that Hindus, as all other religious groups in the country, have the constitutional right to a place for the last rites according to their religion.
In a tweet, Lal Chand Malhi, a minority lawmaker of Pakistan’s ruling Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan, CII Leader Dr Qiba Ayaz and others for granting permission to construct a boundary wall.
He said that the minorities in the country enjoy equal rights, as promised by the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, while praising the CII for clearing the way for the construction of a mosque, a crematorium and a community hall in Islamabad.
As per plan, the Krishna Temple will appear in a 20,000 sq ft plot in the H-9 administrative division of the city. The plot for the first Hindu temple in Islamabad was given to the Hindu Panchayat by the CDA in 2017.
However, building work has been delayed due to certain formalities, including approval of the site map and documentation from the CDA and other related authorities.
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had allocated the land to the temple. In addition to the space for separate structures for other religious rituals, the temple complex will also have a cremation site.
The Hindus are Pakistan’s largest minority group.
According to official figures, 75 Hindu lakhs live in Pakistan. However, according to the group, there are over 90 lakh Hindus living in the region.
The majority of Pakistan’s Hindu population is concentrated in the province of Sindh, where they share culture, traditions and language with the Muslim population.
(Inputs from PTI)