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Restoring 400 ruined temples in 200 years: Pakistan’s new announcement appears to be another PR stunt to cover up the plight of Hindus

In entire Pakistan, there are only 13 Hindu temples that are now functional. Most ancient temples have been ruined after years of neglect, attack, and encroachment.

The Pakistan government has decided to restore Hindu temples across the country in a phased manner, which were hitherto lost to encroachment or occupied and converted to madrassas. The government of Pakistan has identified 400 temples to be gentrified and handed over to the Hindu community in their country.

When partition happened, many Hindu families abandoned their properties and temples in Pakistan and migrated to India. These temples were lost to infringement and illegally occupied by people to run madrassas. Even where the Hindus stayed back, the hostile strongmen forcibly took control of the temples and turned them into either common facility complexes or madrassas.

Pakistan government has declared that every year 2-3 Hindu heritage complexes will be restored, Starting with the two historic shrines in Sialkot and Peshawar. Sialkot already has a functioning Jagannath Temple. Now the 1000-year old Shivalaya Tej Singh temple is set to be restored. It was functional till 1992 but after Babri Mosque demolition, Hindus at Shivalaya Tej Singh temple witnessed a mob attack. A Pakistani court has also declared the Goraknath temple in Peshawar as a heritage site.

However, looking at Pakistan’s track record of treating its minorities and the ever-increasing hold of Islamic hardliners over governance and policy, the declaration seems more like a PR stunt to temporarily appease the Hindus and put the protesting voices to rest after the rampant abductions and forceful conversions of minor Hindu girls got international attention.

In Pakistani media, the only ‘sources’ mentioned for this ‘news’ is an unnamed individual in the Evacuee Trust Property Board.

As expected, the grand declaration of restoring 400 Hindu temples comes with only hollow words and hazy promises. There are no roadmaps proposed, no definite estimates and no announcement of funds or mobilisation so far. Even looking at their current announcement, two temples a year will take 200 years for all the temples (or ruins of them) to become ‘open’. In the entire country, there are just 13 Hindu temples that are functional.

Recently, Pakistan had announced the Sharda Temple Corridor to lure pilgrims from India and abroad. The Sharda Temple, once a revered shrine of Kashmiri Pandits, is now a dilapidated ruin.

The survey conducted by the All-Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement revealed shocking details about the state of temples in Pakistan. There were 428 Hindu temples at the time of Partition and out of which 408 of them were turned into toy stores, restaurants, government offices and madarsas.

Recently, Pakistan has also agreed to build the Kartarpur corridor to facilitate Sikh pilgrims from India to undertake a journey to the birthplace of Guru Nanak. However, the difference in the modalities of the corridor has temporarily put the brakes on the progress. India has highlighted Pakistan’s narrow focus on the issue.

Serious differences in the opinions held by the two countries emerged in their first meeting regarding the project. India had also raised strong objection to Pakistan for including Khalistani elements in their delegation, a concern that has been voiced multiple times by Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh. India has conveyed Pakistan that it won’t tolerate Kartarpur project being used to propagate anti-India and secessionist propaganda.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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