By Shakeel Ahmed
ISLAMABAD: Minister of Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri on Wednesday, commenting on the construction of a Hindu temple in the capital, said that there was “no question” about its construction and the real issue was whether or not it could be built using pubic funds.
Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, he said there has been a lot of talk on the issue recently.
“There is no need to debate on the rights of minorities as they are protected by the PTI government. The party’s manifesto calls for removing all obstructions in the implementation of constitutional provisions regarding the rights of minorities.”
The minister said that a few minority members of the assembly had contacted him and said they had acquired four kanals for the temple and asked him to arrange funds for its construction.
“I told them that I had limited funds for renovating existing places of worship and can’t arrange such a large sum. “On the request of the members, the matter was referred to the prime minister and there has been no progress in this regard,” he said, adding that since then, a few religious scholars had issued statements opposing the construction of the temple using public funds.
“There is no question on the temple’s construction. The issue is whether or not it can be built using public money.” He added that the issue has been sent to the Council of Islamic Ideology. Qadri said construction had been halted due to technical reasons and issues with the Capital Development Authority. His remarks come a day after the Islamabad High Court disposed of three identical petitions filed against the construction of a Hindu temple in Islamabad’s Sector H-9/2.
The court had observed that the construction of a worship place required mandatory approval of the regulator, in this case the Capital Development Authority.
‘Unacceptable to deprive minorities of their rights, places of worship’
Meanwhile, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said that it was “unacceptable” to deprive minorities of their places of worship and the rights granted to them under the Constitution. “We have condemned violence against Muslims in India and Indian atrocities in occupied Jammu and Kashmir. When we speak out against all these issues, the persecution that Muslims are facing, the annexation in Israel if we don’t protect and defend our own minorities then how will we fight the case of other Muslims across the world?”