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Being Secular: To Stay Cooler…

Pakistan has been all set to set an example of (religious) tolerance in a highly intolerant world. The Islamic Republic recently announced that it would restore nearly 400 Hindu temples and hand them over to the minority community!
Earlier this week, the Imran Khan Government in Islamabad reportedly admitted that the concerned authorities had encroached on the lands of 428 temples since 1990, and converted 408 of them to madrasas, toy stores, schools, etc. The Government said in a statement that it would reclaim those temples first, and then restore them to the Hindu citizens. It also said that a final decision has been made in this regard in an attempt to fulfil the longstanding demand of the minority community. Earlier, the Hindus had requested the Government to restore their places of worship to them. After most Hindus left Pakistan for neighbouring India during Partition (of the Indian Subcontinent) in 1947, the Government not only encroached on many temples, but also the areas where some Hindu families stayed back.

Shivalaya Teja Singh.jpg
Shivalaya Teja Singh in Peshawar

A senior Pakistani official stated that the restoration process would begin with two historic shrines in Sialkot and Peshawar. The official, who wished to remain anonymous, revealed that the Government would restore the functioning Jagannath Temple in Sialkot and the 1,000-year-old Shivalaya Teja Singh in Peshawar early next year. It may be noted that Hindus had stopped visiting the Shivalaya after the Babri Mosque in India was demolished by a mob attack in 1992. Later, the Pakistani courts had ordered the Government to reopen the Gorakhnath Temple in Peshawar and to declare it a heritage site.
Meanwhile, the Hindus have welcomed the Government’s decision to restore two-three historic and heritage temple complexes every year from now on. As per the latest Government report, Pakistan has at least 11 Hindu temples in Sindh, four in Punjab, three in Balochistan and two in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province.

Gorakhnath Temple.jpg
Gorakhnath Temple in Peshawar

In view of the above, there are speculations as regards to peace and communal harmony, too, and people (to be read as skeptics) do mention these, along with talks about progress in the Pakistani Society as a whole… it is only wished sincerely that hood sense prevails among all the people…

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