Sputnik – Pakistan moves to embrace its minorities by opening the doors of Hindu Mandirs

New Delhi – India, 18 November 2019. India and Pakistan have opened the Kartarpur Corridor, allowing Indian pilgrims to worship throughout the year at a Sikh shrine in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

Pakistan has historically been uneasy with its Hindu heritage but things seem to be changing under the ruling Imran Khan government.

Pakistan’s ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s spokesperson Ahman Jawad has announced plans to restore Hindu places of worship.

The India-Pakistan partition in 1947 resulted in the closure Hindu and Sikh shrines in the country.

A survey by the All-Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement earlier this year revealed that at the time of partition, 428 Hindu mandirs existed in Pakistan but only 20 remain operational.

In April this year, the Pakistan government announced plans to re-open 400 of the 428 mandirs. It also cleared a plan to allow Indian tourists to visit Sharda Peeth, an ancient Hindu religious and cultural site in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Taking another positive step towards the minority Hindus, Jagannath Mandir in Pakistan’s Sialkot city was reopened in July after 72 years.

The changes are not just at the bureaucratic level, but also at the judicial level, with the Supreme Court of Pakistan making judgements in favour of Hindus.

Similarly, in September 2019, Muslims escorted Hindus to a mandir in Ghotki district after riots broke out in the area over an alleged blasphemy committed by a Hindu teacher.

Pakistan also plans to begin the renovation of two to three historic and heritage mandirs every year. The restoration process will begin with two historic mandirs, the 1,000-year old Shivalaya Teja Singh Temple in Sialkot and Gorakhnath Temple in Peshawar.


Fifteen PML-N MPAs meet Imran at Banigala: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf

Ikram Junaidi

Islamabad – Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 30 June 2019. Fifteen members of the Punjab Assembly, belonging to the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, met Prime Minister Imran Khan at his Banigala residence on Saturday and expressed their “full confidence” in the PM and in Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.

While the PML-N rejected reports of any such meeting, PM’s special assistant Naeem-ul-Haque confirmed the development in a late-evening Twitter posting, saying: “The hopes of PMLN MPAs from Punjab continue to get shattered with their party as was obvious in their today’s meeting with the PM”.

He confirmed that fifteen MPAs of the PML-N met the PM at Banigala for one and a half hours. “CM Panjab had brought them over. They expressed full confidence in PM and the CM”. However, Mr Haque did not mention the names of any of the 15 PML-N MPA.

PML-N’s information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb rejected reports of a meeting between Mr Khan and some lawmakers from her party, claiming that it was a “stunt that had been pulled by the PTI to divert people’s attention away from the budget, which had been prepared by the International Monetary Fund”.

“Not a single MPA belonging to the PML-N is included in the names reported by the media. We have been waiting for the names of the PML-N MPAs so that we may offer comments on the matter,” she remarked.

Earlier, the prime minister, while chairing a meeting about the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme, described it as the most important project that was aimed to meet housing needs in the country.

“It will not only provide residential facilities to the people but will also play an important role in strengthening the economy,” he said. The government would facilitate both local and foreign businessmen who wanted to invest in the scheme, he said.

Federal Minister for Housing and Works Tariq Bashir Cheema, federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari were among those who attended the meeting.

Some PTI members of the National Assembly hailing from southern Punjab also met Mr Khan and discussed different issues with him.

The group included Mian Muhammad Shafiq, Syed Fakhar Imam, Zahoor Hussain Qureshi, Ahmed Hussain, Malik Aamir Dogar, Makhdoom Zain Qureshi, Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, Rana Muhammad Qasim, Chaudhry Tahir Iqbal and Aurangzeb Khan.

The delegation congratulated the prime minister on the passage of the budget in the National Assembly.

Federal Ministers Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Khusro Bakhtiar, Sahibzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan and State Ministers Hammad Azhar and Shabbir Ali Qureshi were present on the occasion.