A week from now, Pakistan will be celebrating 74 years of independence from the British. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in his August 11 address to the Constituent Assembly, promised the people of Pakistan that we will live in a country where there will be religious freedom and no intolerance. “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the state,” said the Quaid. Our founder was a great proponent of minority rights but it seems that the people of Pakistan do not want to pay any heed to his words.
On Wednesday, a mob attacked a Hindu temple in Rahim Yar Khan district after a court granted bail to an eight-year-old Hindu boy who was accused of allegedly urinating in a local seminary. The main door of the temple was burned down and statues of Hindu deities were also damaged. Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the incident and ordered the police to take action against the culprits. PM Khan also announced on Twitter that the government will “restore the Mandir”. Chief Justice Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed reprimanded the police and the local administration for just standing there and watching. CJP Gulzar also said that we should imagine what would have been the reaction of Muslims, had a mosque been demolished like the Hindu temple was. The Supreme Court also directed the police to arrest the culprits.
This is not the first temple attack in Pakistan. Since last year, there have been several attacks on temples all across the country. August 11 has been declared as the National Minorities Day in Pakistan since 2009. Imagine, how our Hindu brethren would have felt that their place of worship was attacked just days before we pay lip service to the rights of minorities. As per the 6th Population and Housing Census 2017, there are 96.47 per cent Muslims in Pakistan. As for the minorities, there are 1.27 per cent Christians, 1.73 per cent Hindus, 0.09 per cent Ahmadis, 0.41per cent scheduled caste, and 0.02 per cent others. In a country dominated by Muslims, why can we not respect the rights of other religious minorities? It is unfortunate how we continue to fail our own citizens, our minorities. We hope the authorities will arrest the culprits and the government will protect our minorities.