The Express Tribune – A visiting Indian delegation opened my mind and heart

Nazia Jabeen

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 20 November 2019. When all eyes were on Kartarpur Corridor’s landmark inauguration scheduled for 09 November, a day before the main event (on 08 November), a group of Indian journalists crossed into Pakistan via the Wagah Border. They were in Lahore to attend the opening ceremony of the corridor ahead of the 550th birthday of Baba Guru Nanak on 12 November.

Baba Guru Nanak is also respected among the Muslims of Pakistan because of his teachings on humanism and unity, and against separatism and barbarism. I was the part of a team tasked with hosting the Indian journalist delegation and it was a riveting experience to say the least.

The 34-strong delegation comprised of both print and electronic journalists including at least ten women, most of them belonging to the Indian state Panjab.

On 09 November, they attended the inauguration of the corridor by Prime Minister Imran Khan. They were speechless as they got of the bus and soaked in the grandeur of the gurdwara. I too could feel that they were spiritually elevated there, forgetting that they were here to cover the event.

On the eve of Kartarpur Corridor opening, we had arranged a dinner for them at the Governor’s House. An all-vegetable and lentils menu did not go well with a few of them. A journalist said: “I was expecting some beef and mutton dishes too.”

When explained, that it was arranged viewing cultural and religious sensitivities of the delegates, the visiting journalist said that the love and respect the team had received in Pakistan, had changed his views about the country.

Besides attending the Kartarpur Corridor event, the Indian journalists were keen to see sights and shop in Lahore. Owing to the recent wave of smog and pollution in Dehli, the blue Lahore sky was really fascinating for the team.

They lamented that they had not seen the sky in a few days in Dehli. In about two weeks, as I write this, Lahore too is under a blanket of smog and schools are being shutdown, which is very unfortunate.

The delegates could not be taken to Lahore’s historical places including the Fort, Badshahi Mosque and Shalimar Gardens due to the paucity of time. They could only be taken to shop and when they got to the Packages Mall, the delegates went on a shopping spree.

They loved an array of Pakistani clothing brands. To the extent where they bought as many un-stitched and stitched pieces as they could. One of the Indian journalists even wore the Pakistan bought kurta on her journey back home.

Some of the women from the delegation really liked my dupatta, prompting me to gift them to all the women in the delegation. My personal gifts were accepted with smiles and gratitude. Only one journalist was reluctant to accept the gift because her newspaper had a strict policy but I insisted that it was not a gift from a news source but from a new friend.

This put her mind at ease and also started a beautiful friendship between us. I did not forget the men though, and decided to get cuff links for them but as journalists are known to dress for comfort one of them protested,

“I will need a shirt to use them.” “He means give him a shirt too,” quipped another delegate and with this laughter erupted.

The joke made me think about how much we share as neighbours, including our sense of humour. Everything during the trip went without a hitch, expect when it came to pronouncing some of the names. While counting the members of the delegation on the bus, at one point I said only Parveen is missing. A female journalist was quick to correct me politely, “Mr Praveen, not Parveen.”

The visit by the journalists from India really opened my eyes to all the things we share in common and how little the differences between us are. We speak the same language almost, we look similar and when we hang out with each other, we usually end up making the same jokes.

The interaction also opened my mind and since they left I have started reading about India beyond what news channels throw at me and have also gotten books about Hinduism and Sikhism.

The differences between India and Pakistan perhaps could then be called political and I feel if the governments on both sides work towards recognising what makes us similar instead of what sets us apart, maybe we can overcome the hostile history that the two nations share.

https://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/90997/a-visiting-indian-delegation-opened-my-mind-and-heart/

The Tribune – Amid corridor buzz, Nankana Sahib gurdwara draws sea of devotees

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 12 November 2019. A large number of Sikh pilgrims from India, Canada, the US, the UK, the UAE and different parts of Pakistan gathered at the Gurdwara Janamasthan Nankana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak, to mark his 550 birth anniversary today.

The Sikhs carried out a ‘palki’ from the shrine and moved to eight other smaller gurdwaras in Nankana Sahib city. The pilgrims from India, Canada, the US, the UK, the UAE and different parts of Pakistan gathered at the Gurdwara and performed religious rituals.

Federal Interior Minister Ijaz Shah said Sikhs expressed joy over the arrangements regarding the birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak and opening of the Kartarpur Corridor project.

The corridor was thrown open by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday, facilitating Indian pilgrims to visit one of Sikhs’ holiest shrines in the Pakistani town of Narowal. The corridor links Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur in India to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan, the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan President Arif Alvi addressed the Sikhs at the Governor’s House in Lahore where Governor Sarwar had invited some 2,000 Sikh pilgrims, who had come from different parts of the world, including India, for a luncheon, Dawn News reported.

Alvi said Sikhs would be welcomed in Pakistan and doors would remain wide open for them at every occasion. He lauded Religious Tourism and Heritage Committee led by Chaudhry Sarwar for making arrangement for the corridor opening ceremony and for arrangements made for the birth anniversary celebrations.

“Pakistan is advocating love and peace as wars are not the solution to issues, which could be resolved through dialogues,” he said. Governor Sarwar said, “Pakistan is a safe country for minorities and it is working for restoration of religious places of not only the Sikh community but also other minorities including Christians and Hindus”.

Notwithstanding their strained ties, India and Pakistan signed an agreement last month, paving the way for the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor.

According to the pact, Pakistan will allow 5,000 Indian pilgrims daily to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib. Guru Nanak Dev spent last 18 years of his life at Kartarpur Sahib, which has now become the world’s largest Sikh Gurdawara.

Now, turn of guru’s birthplace, says Yogi

Lucknow – UP – India, 12 November 2019. UP CM Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday said that after the Kartarpur Corridor, it was the turn of Nankana Sahib to open its door for the people of this country. “I extend my good wishes to you and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ensuring the opening of Kartarpur Corridor.

The day is not far when we will be able to visit Nankana Sahib too,” he said at a function to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. Nankana Sahib is a city in Pakistan in which Guru Nanak was born. He said the teachings of Guru Nanak were spread across several countries.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/amid-corridor-buzz-nankana-sahib-gurdwara-draws-sea-of-devotees/859859.html

Pakistan Today – India denies passage of Sikh religious procession into Pakistan

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 01 November 2019. Indian authorities at the Attari border crossing tried to stop the passage of golden ‘Palki’ Sahib to Pakistan after it denied permission to the bus carrying the palanquin to cross over to Pakistan.

The Nagar Kirtan (religious procession reciting holy hymns) was returning to Nankana Sahib, Pakistan, along with a gold plated ‘Palki’ Sahib to be installed at the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur, in connection with the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak Dev.

The ‘Palki’ Sahib, a gift from Shiromani Akali Dal Delhi, was being transported to Pakistan on a specially designed bus to house the ‘Palki’ Sahib and the Guru Granth Sahib.

Pawan Singh Arora, PRO to the Punjab governor, told APP that Indian authorities refused to allow the bus cross over to Pakistan on its way to Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur.

Upon refusal by Indian authorities, Sikh Yatrees carried the golden ‘Palki’ Sahib on their shoulders along with the Guru Granth Sahib and entered Pakistan via Wagha border crossing.

Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, alongside officials of the Evacuee Trust Property Board, Rangers, and Pakistani Sikh leadership welcomed the ‘Nagar Kirtan’ and ‘Palki’ Sahib and the Sikh Yatrees on the Pakistani side of the border.

Pawan Singh Arora said the Sikh leadership and Yatrees condemned the Indian decision to deny permission to the holy bus to enter Pakistan, adding that the interior of the bus had been decorated as a Gurdwara.

The headline is wrong, the article is right: India denied entry into Pakistan to the ‘Golden Bus’ and to Paramjit Singh Sarna
Man in Blue

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/11/01/india-denies-passage-of-sikh-religious-procession-into-pakistan/

Dawn – Smog blamed on Indian farmers begins to hit Lahore

Intikhab Hanif

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 31 October 2019. Moderate smog has started developing in Lahore because of the lowering minimum temperature, humidity and calm wind at night that is allowing the contributing pollutants, being generated mostly by Indian Punjab farmers by burning massive crop residue, to penetrate the bordering areas.

“We have already taken adequate steps to prevent local contributions to smog, and are ready to combat those from Indian Punjab,” said Environment Protection Secretary Salman Ejaz on Wednesday.

He contradicted reports suggesting development of hazardous level smog in Lahore. “This is false as our authentic data shows much lower levels that are not dangerous at all as yet,” he said.

Chief Meteorologist in Lahore Sahibzad Khan said there was no smog. It was merely smoke and haze, he said, indicating chances of rain and strong westerly winds on Saturday and Sunday.

This would provide relief, though temporary, against smog or whatever, he said.

Human rights group Amnesty International earlier said that the Air Quality Index in Lahore had reached 484 at 10am, adding that the threshold for hazardous level of air quality was 300.

It blamed the Punjab government for exposing people to hazardous air risks in violation of their human rights to life and health. Smog was witnessed in the bordering areas of Lahore and those in the south along the canal on Wednesday morning.

Haziness, and nose and eye irritation was a clear indication of the beginning of the phenomenon which is pestering Lahore and other Punjab cities in October and November for the past few years.

The main cause is stated to be the burning of crop residue mainly by Indian Punjab farmers. Smog that develops as a result causes worst health threatening conditions in the Indian side up to Delhi.

The Environment Protection Department (EPD) observatory at the Met department’s Jail Road observatory on Wednesday recorded 128 AQI (Air Quality Index) at 12.50pm.

The AQI at Wagah was 280. According to the EPD smog policy, AQI ranging between 101 and 200 indicates slight, 200 to 300 moderate and 400 to 500 hazardous air pollution.

Mr Salman Ejaz said Punjab did not witness smog during most parts of the current month because of extended monsoons and some strong westerly weather systems that pushed back the pollutants from the fields of Indian Punjab.

“NASA Satellite pictures are showing huge crop residue burning in the east Punjab cities Amritsar and Jalandhar. The local contribution is 20 per cent. And we are not having full impact of the smog causing pollutants from the Indian side because of the (favourable) wind direction,” he said.

Pollution caused by Panjab and Haryana farmers reaches from New Delhi to Lahore !
Man in Blue

https://www.dawn.com/news/1513953/smog-blamed-on-indian-farmers-begins-to-hit-lahore

The Express Tribune – Religious tourism: Punjab govt opens Sikh heritage sites to public

Asif Mehmood

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 28 October 2019. The Punjab government has initiated religious tourism for Sikh pilgrims in the provincial capital. Visitors interested in history, archaeology and religious tourism were taken to visit the holy sites of the Sikh community which were, previously, remained secreted in the streets of the inner city.

The unique event started from the Fort Road Food Street where PRO to Punjab Governor Pawan Singh Arora briefed the participants about the event, followed by colourfully decorated rickshaw rides.

The official explained that the purpose of this tour was to bring the international community’s attention towards the heritage of the Sikh community, its holy sites and archaeological structures situated in the provincial capital.

“Usually, citizens, except the members of the Sikh community, are not allowed to visit the temples, which is a prime reason for the lack of awareness among the public about these holy places.”

“It is through these historical trips that we will be taking the visitors to the temples so that they could see the places and learn about the religious practices of the Sikh community,” he added. “These trips will also promote religious harmony and companionship among people of different faith groups.”

The tourists were first taken to visit the birthplace of Sikh community’s fourth religious leader Guru Ram Das, which is situated in the inner city of Chuna Mandi.

The official briefed the visitors about this worship place. Later, the visitors reached Dera Sahib Lahore, where the fifth Guru of the Sikh community Arjun Devji was martyred. Members of the Sikh community believe that Guru Arjun Devji drowned inside a well located there, which is a part of River Ravi.

Apart from this, the grave of Maharaja Ranjit Singh is also located at the site. Hina Umar, a participant of the religious tour, said that it was a very good initiative by the provincial government.

“Tourists will have the opportunity to know more about the heritage of the Sikh community,” she added. “As most of us know less about Sikhism and not much information is being taught in schools about the community and their culture, we have taken this tour to learn many new things about the community today.”

Another participant Shazia Fayyaz told The Express Tribune that the visitors came to know about this visit through a social media platform.

“Whenever we used to visit the Shahi Qila and Badshahi Mosque, we would often get curious about the Gurdwara. However, due to security reasons, we could not get an opportunity to explore the place of worship.”

“Today, our wish to visit the Gurdwara and learn more about the Sikh community has come true and we have made the most of this special occasion to know more about Sikh heritage,” she remarked.

The Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) Marketing and Tourism Director Asif Zaheer, while talking to the media, said Prime Minister Imran Khan and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar were promoting religious tourism in the country and this event was a result of their commitment.

“In the walled city of Lahore, there are many ancient buildings from the Sikh era, including Gurdwaras and holy places belonging to the community. We want to promote Sikh heritage through this city tour.” “We want to show the world how we have protected this heritage and kept it close to our hearts,” he added.

He further said that, initially, this religious tour would be held once a month. “About 60 people were included in today’s tour and if the number of visitors increases, we shall have this tour arranged twice a month.” Also, following the norm, tours to promote Muslim heritage, historic mosques and shrines will be initiated soon, he maintained.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2088414/1-religious-tourism-punjab-govt-opens-sikh-heritage-sites-public/

Dawn – ‘Control population before it’s too late’

Speakers at a seminar on ‘Population Dynamics in Pakistan: Challenges and Opportunities’ at the Punjab University Institute of Social and Cultural Studies (PUISCS) said on Thursday unchecked population would not only hamper socio-economic development of the country but would also create certain issues beyond anyone’s control.

Our Staff Reporter

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 04 October 2019. PUISCS Director Professor Dr Rubeena Zakar, Deputy Secretary of the Punjab Population Welfare Department Dr Ayesha Qureshi, Population Welfare Training Institute Principal Rukhsana Kausar, Assistent Professor Rahla Rahat, faculty members and students were present.

Dr Rubeena said it would have far reaching consequences on development, environment, health and other relevant sectors in Pakistan if population growth remained uncontrolled.

She said investment on girl’s education was the best solution to reduce population growth in the country because of rapid increase in population, the next generation could face various challenges, such as unemployment, price hike, polluted environment, over-crowded urban areas, lack of natural resources etc.

She said the aim of the seminar was to sensitise students on population issues and small family norms and to mobilise them for raising awareness in their communities.

She said population issues were core concepts in teaching and research activities at the Institute of Social and Cultural Studies. Ms Kausar explained the salient features of the Punjab Population Policy of 2017 and informed the students about the crucial role of the Health Department in providing family planning services.

Also, PU Examinations Department has issued the schedule for submission of admission forms for BA/BSc Part-I and Part-II annual examination of 2020.

The last date for submission of admission forms for regular candidates of BA/BSc Part-II annual examination 2020 with a single fee is Dec 16, 2019, (by post) and Dec 23 (by hand) while forms can be submitted with a double fee till Dec 30 (by post) and Jan 6, 2020, (by hand).

Last date for submission of admission forms for late college/private candidates/improve division/additional subjects of BA/BSc Part-II annual examination of 2020 with a single fee is Oct 18 (by post) and Oct 24 (by hand) while forms can be submitted with a double fee till Nov 5 (by post) and Nov 8 (by hand).

Similarly, the last date for submission of admission forms for late college/private candidates having compartment in Part-I/improve division of BA/BSc Part-I annual examination 2020 with a single fee is Nov 8 (by post) and Nov 14 (by hand) while forms can be submitted with double fee till Nov 22 (by post) and Nov 26 (by hand).

https://www.dawn.com/news/1508846/control-population-before-its-too-late

The News – CCTV Video of Amir Masih lends credence to torture claims

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 08 September 2019. A CCTV footage has lent credence to claims that Amir Masih was subjected to torture by the Lahore police officials.

According to the family of the deceased, Masih, a gardener by profession, had appeared before North Cantt police last week to prove his innocence against the charges of theft levelled against him by his employer, but the police detained him and subjected him to severe torture which claimed his life.

Police had reportedly shifted him to a private hospital four days later for multiple injuries inflicted on him. The video purports to show policeman and Amir Masih in front of the hospital where he was brought on a motorcycle.

The footage shows policemen in plainclothes kicking the victim as he falls to the ground before being dragged into the medical facility. According to the video timestamp, an hour later the victim is seen on wheel-chair outside the hospital entrance and being taken away in a car.

The postmortem report also confirmed torture on Amir’s hands, back and arms. His ribs were also broken, the report stated. On 04 September, the police registered a case against six police officials over the death of a suspect in police custody.

Incharge Investigation Nasir Baig, T/ASI Zeeshan and four constables were nominated in the FIR registered against them under sections 302, 342 and 34 PPC.

Masih is a common Christian surname in India and Pakistan
Man in Blue

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/523952-cctv-video-of-amir-masih-lends-credence-to-torture-claims

India Today – Pakistan hosts Sikh convention, urges scholars to raise voice for Kashmir

The convention was aimed at showcasing Pakistan’s “readiness to safeguard the rights of the minorities” and stand by them through thick and thin. However, it fast turned into a platform where Pakistan called on the dignitaries to raise their voices against the abrogation of provisions of Article 370.

Hamza Ameer

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 01 September 2019. Pakistan on Sunday hosted the first International Sikh Convention at the Governor’s House in Lahore, inviting over 50 Sikh scholars from across the world, and urged the scholars to raise their voice against alleged “India’s human rights violations in Kashmir”.

The convention was aimed at showcasing Pakistan’s “readiness to safeguard the rights of the minorities” and stand by them through thick and thin. However, it fast turned into a platform where Pakistan called on the dignitaries to raise their voices against the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 that gave a special status to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, who was the host of the three-day convention, said, “Kashmir issue could be solved through dialogue if India shows seriousness.”

Sarwar also called on the Sikh community across the world to raise their voice and spread the concerns over what he termed as “India’s human rights violations in Kashmir”, asserting that “no religion preaches injustice to anyone”.

“Islam and Sikhism teach that the oppressed must be protected. We believe in one race and that is the human race,” he said.

Special assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan, Firdour Ashiq Awan also raked up the Kashmir issue during the event and lashed out at PM Narendra Modi.

“It was the need of the hour that Indian premier Narendra Modi shun extremism in Kashmir and within India. The Sikh community should highlight the plight of the minorities in India across the world,” she said.

Firdour Ashiq Awan also said that Pakistan had showed its “positive intent towards peace” by returning Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman whose jet was shot down within the Pakistani territory. He threatened that “Pakistan’s wish for peace should not be taken as weakness”.

“If PM Modi will continue the genocide of the Muslims in Kashmir, Pakistan will no more act as a silent spectator and the consequences will affect the world,” Awan said.

Punjab Governor said that the Kartarpur Corridor would open on its assigned and scheduled time in November. “The Kartarpur Corridor will be opened even if the border situation worsens. PM Imran Khan will perform the opening ceremony,” he said.

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/pakistan-hosts-sikh-convention-urges-scholars-to-raise-voice-for-kashmir-1594210-2019-09-01

The News – Sikh delegation arrives in Lahore

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 29 August 2019. A 22-member Sikh delegation arrived here on Wednesday on the invitation of Punjab Governor Muhammad Sarwar Chaudhry to attend the International Sikh Convention being held at the Governor’s House on 31 August.

Talking to APP, Sikh delegation leader Sardar Gurucharan Singh said they had come with the message of love between both the nations in the time of tension. “We should promote love instead of hatred between Pakistani and Indian people,” he added.

He said that opening of Darbar Sahib Kartarpur corridor on the eve of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Sahib was a praiseworthy initiative by the Pakistani government.

He said that eight Sikhs were coming by road from Canada to participate in the convention. The Sikh delegates will remain in the country till 04 September. They would visit different Sikh religious places.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/518957-sikh-delegation-arrives

TRT World – Pakistan needs to do more than renovate temples to tackle minority issues

In recent years, Pakistan has increasingly invested in renovations to both Sikh gurdwaras and Hindu temples, but structural problems still exist with its minorities.

Haroon Khalid

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 20 August 2019. On the morning of December 7 1992, a mob gathered in the courtyard of the Valmiki Hindu temple in Anarkali Lahore, one of the two functional Hindu temples in the city, which had a considerable Hindu population before the creation of Pakistan in 1947, including several functioning temples.

According to mythology, the origin of Lahore, the second-most populous city in Pakistan, is attributed to the son of the Hindu deity, Ram. During Partition riots, communities that had lived together for generations were torn asunder, with the majority of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs, forced or choosing to migrate to India.

A day before the gathering in Lahore, news of the destruction of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, India, had dominated headlines. Led by the Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a mob had brought down this historic mosque. They claimed the mosque had been created after destroying a Hindu temple that marked the place of birth of the Hindu deity, Ram.

In retaliation to the destruction of the mosque, hundreds of mobs gathered all over Pakistan seeking to ‘avenge’ desecration of the mosque. Numerous Hindu temples were destroyed, as the state quietly looked on. Like numerous other Hindu temples, most of which were either abandoned or taken over by people to be used as residences and for other purposes, the Valmiki Temple in Anarkali was looted, destroyed and then burned.

Carved out of British-India, the two countries of India and Pakistan became Hindu and Muslim dominated respectively. While India shocked by consciously defining itself as a ‘secular’ country, Pakistan whole-heartedly embraced its Muslim identity.

On the one hand, this Muslim identity meant taking up Islamic symbols and the Islamisation of state institutions, on the other hand, it was defined in opposition to the ‘Hindu identity’.

Festivals that had Hindu origin, words which had entered the vernacular via Sanskrit, and other customs that were perceived to be part of ‘Hindu culture’ were jettisoned. The phenomena gained momentum particularly in the aftermath of the 1965 and 1971 wars with India. Hindu became synonymous with India, the enemy.

Anti-Hindu rhetoric gained currency in public discourse, including the education system, with Hindus being labelled as ‘cunning’, ‘scheming’, ‘deceptive’ and ‘mischievous’ in school textbooks that were taught to young students all across the country. As these children grew up the narratives became part of the worldview of the politicians, bureaucrats, judges, army officers and media representatives.

With the Hindu minority in Pakistan dwindling, generations of Pakistanis grew up without ever encountering a Hindu in their social setting. ‘Hindu’ became a distorted figment of their imagination rather than an actual person. In this environment, acts of violence against the minuscule Hindu minority, including forced conversion, and the property grabbing of Hindu temples went unnoticed.

The situation began to change in the last couple of decades under the military dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf. With Pakistan in limelight in the aftermath of 9/11 and the war on terror, the state was desperate to project a more ‘progressive’ image of the country.

Calling it ‘Enlightened Moderation’, the Musharraf government particularly reached out to the religious minorities and oversaw the renovation of a few Sikh gurdwaras and Hindu temples. For example the ancient Hindu temple of Katas Raj in Punjab was renovated and opened to pilgrims.

Similarly a historical Hindu temple in Islamabad was renovated and made part of the ‘model village’ of Saidpur. With the patronage of the state, the media responded as well, increasing the coverage of minority issues in Pakistan.

In 2008, Pakistan elected a civilian government, which continued the promotion of this ‘soft image’. Many more Sikh gurdwaras and Hindu temples were renovated. Just last month, a historic Hindu temple in Sialkot was renovated. The action received widespread appreciation.

It seems as if the state which in 1992 had looked on passively as mobs destroyed Hindu temples has taken a swift turn and is now actively protecting its Hindu heritage, a far cry from what has happened across the border during Indian Prime Minister Modi’s tenure in office.

While these actions are praiseworthy and do to some extent represent a qualitative change in how the state views itself, it needs to be kept in mind that these actions are more symbolic than they are a systematic change.

The fact remains that the Hindu minority of Pakistan is a persecuted minority. The forced conversion for many Hindu girls is a widespread issue and often representatives of the state are silent spectators as these atrocities occur.

The education system remains problematic, continuing to depict Hindus in an ‘otherised’ form. Journalists and sometimes politicians often resort to an ‘anti-Hindu’ language when tensions flare with India. The Pakistani identity it seems is still deeply rooted in separation from the ‘Hindu identity’.

While lip service is paid to the need to secure rights for religious minorities in Pakistan, with the renovation of a handful of Hindu temples as an example of this, the social structures that result in this persecution and exclusion remain intact.

These acts might win the state accolades but it hardly changes the reality of religious minorities in Pakistan.

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of TRT World.

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https://www.trtworld.com/opinion/pakistan-needs-to-do-more-than-renovate-temples-to-tackle-minority-issues-29131