ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday reserved judgement on a petition filed against the construction of a Hindu temple in Islamabad.
During the hearing today, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) told the court that the plot was allotted after consultations from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Special Branch and the Islamabad administration.
The CDA also told the court that the work was halted due to lack of building plan for the temple.
In response, the deputy attorney general said that the petitioners are asking for Rs100 million but the government has not provided any funding as of yet.
“Thus, a good message is not being sent to the world. The constitution also allows non-Muslims to practice their religion,” he added.
Justice Amir Farooq remarked that the matter has been referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) by the government.
After hearing the arguments of all the parties, the court later reserved its verdict.
It is pertinent to mention that the foundation stone of the temple was laid recently in Sector H-9 of Islamabad, the land of which was allotted during the previous regime.
Earlier reports of government land and funds being allocated for the construction of the temple had been circulating on social media. The Ministry of Religious Affairs had made it clear that it assists religious minorities in repairing and renovating existing places of worship, not building new ones.
Leading cleric Mufti Taqi Usmani and chairman of the government’s Central Route Hilal Committee Mufti Muneebur Rehman have also opposed the construction of the temple at the government’s expense.
‘Temple construction halted due to lack of building plan’
According to a report published in the The News, the government decided to consult the CII on the sensitive issue as the construction work at the site of Hindu temple in Sector H-9/2 has also been stopped for want of a building plan.
The government will seek guidance and consultation from the CII and also respect the opinion of religious circles and leaders in this connection, the spokesman for the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony had earlier said.
PM Imran approves release of funds for temple construction
Last month, Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved the release of funds for the construction of the first Hindu temple in Islamabad.
In a meeting with PTI MNAs Jay Parkash, Shanila Ruth, Laal Chand, Ramesh Kumar and Jamshed Thomas, the prime minister had issued directives for accelerating the legislation process to protect minorities’ rights.
Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Noorul Haq Qadri and PTI’s Chief Whip in the National Assembly, Malik Amir Dogar, had also attended the meeting.
The temple is being constructed in the federal capital’s H-9/2 sector on a four-kanal plot of land allocated especially by the government.
The parliamentarians had apprised the prime minister of the problems concerning their respective constituencies, particularly minorities.
The prime minister had also lauded the contribution of the minority community in the progress and prosperity of Pakistan and said it was the government’s priority to ensure the provision of equal opportunities for minorities and to protect their rights.
“We had to take the country forward through unity and interfaith harmony,” PM Imran had said.