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On Pakistan’s National Minorities Day, Islamabad’s Hindus likely to get a place to pray

Capital Development Authority records mention the centuries-old temple had a Dharamshala which was converted into a public toilet after renovation

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(Representational Image) Temple in Saidpur. Image Source: flickr.com
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  • Capital Development Authority records mention the centuries-old temple in Saidpur  had a Dharamshala, which was converted into a public toilet after the renovation
  • The Rama Mandir in Saidpur village was built by Raja Mann Singh in the 1580s
  • The Hindu residents of Islamabad have to go all the way to Rawalpindi to offer their prayers even though there is a temple turned tourist site in Saidpur village

On National Minorities Day in Pakistan, which is on August 11, Hindus in Islamabad might get a place to pray, if the campaign to revive an abandoned Hindu Temple works out well. Pakistan celebrates The National Minorities Day to highlight the contribution and services made by the minority communities towards the growth of the nation.

The Hindu residents of Islamabad have to go all the way to Rawalpindi to offer their prayers even though there is a temple turned tourist site in Saidpur village. They are now planning to revive the temple so that the 850 Hindus living in the city can have a place for religious gatherings, mentioned the indiatoday.in reports.

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The Rama Mandir in Saidpur village was built by Raja Mann Singh in the 1580s. During that time, Saidpur had a significant Hindu population and after the partition in 1947, many left the place and the temple fell into disuse. Later, they were barred from performing religious rituals in the temple.

Capital Development Authority records mention the centuries-old temple had a Dharamshala, which was converted into a public toilet after the renovation. The carvings of Hindu Goddess Lakshmi and Kali in the walls were painted over by the CDA in 2006, mentioned the indiatoday.in reports.

Image Source: indiatoday.intoday.in
Representational Pic. Image Source: indiatoday.in

According to the Express Tribune reports, “the sanctity of the holy place will be restored and Hindu families living in Islamabad will finally have a place to pray,” said PTI lawmaker Lal Chand Malhi, who is leading the campaign. He also added, “First, we will try to force the government and its departments to allow us to make the temple operational. If no response is received, community members, political parties and civil society will open it for prayers.”

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Letters requesting the revival of the temple is likely to be written to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Mamnoon Hussain of Pakistan. Apart from that, the issue will also be addressed to Islamabad Mayor Ansar Aziz, who is the custodian of the site, on August 11.

Islamabad Mayor said to the indiatoday.in, he is ready to support the request once he receives it. He also adds that he will be more than happy to help Hindus living in Islamabad to get access to the temple.

– prepared by Ajay Krishna of NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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American Friends of Balochistan welcomes Trump’s Tough stand on Pak

The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) issued a statement Monday welcoming Donald Trump's stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

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American Friends of Balochistan welcomes Trump's Tough stand on Pak
American Friends of Balochistan welcomes Trump's Tough stand on Pak. wikimedia commons

Washington, D.C.– The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) Executive Committee issued a statement Monday welcoming the President’s stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

The AFB said President Donald J. Trump has called out Pakistan’s constant bluffs with the US and pointed out a big chunk of American assistance was used against people of Balochistan in a secret, dirty war instead of the Taliban.

Khwaja Wali Kirani in Balochistan. Wikimedia Commons

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!,” President Trump first tweet of 2018 reads.

The tweet was loved by nearly quarter-million Americans and retweeted 83,000 times in less than 24 hours.

The AFB executive committee said the US remains Pakistan’s top foreign aid donor, in addition to the money paid in expectation of cooperation in the Global War on Terror. Yet, for many years now, serving officers in the US Armed Forces have repeatedly spoken out about Pakistan’s perfidy in Afghanistan, which has cost the US lives, money and strategic credibility in the world’s eyes. Pakistan also remains a training ground for terrorism and a prime proliferator of nuclear weapons technology.

No country’s development and democracy have suffered more from Pakistan’s interference via state-sponsored terrorism than Afghanistan. US efforts to help the Afghans rebuild their nation are constantly sabotaged by reeling instability. India is another well-known target.

The AFB said Balochistan is a region rich in natural gas. It that has seen several bloody cycles of insurgency ever since Pakistan forcibly annexed the autonomous Baloch state of Kalat in 1948 in violation of a Standstill Agreement. A portion of historical Balochistan also sits on the other side of Pakistan’s border with Iran. Further, it borders Afghanistan to the north-west. Pakistan’s brutal record in this strategically located province that forms the northern lip of the key Straits of Hormuz has spiked in recent years.

“People of Balochistan tried their very best to work with Pakistan’s false promises of integration after forceful accession, but instead gave genocide to Balochs,” said the statement.

The AFB monitors the situation in Balochistan closely and is in touch with freedom and democracy activists on the ground. The AFB reiterated their call to the Pakistani government to cease violating the physical security of Baloch people, their freedom of expression, and end the policy of economic exploitation and genocidal violence.

A slow-motion genocide in Balochistan has claimed the lives of 35,000 Baloch people, 6,000 of whom were buried in mass graves while 21,000 are Victims of Enforced Disappearances, according to the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons. “The enforced disappearances situation in Balochistan is no different than what it used to be in Chile and Argentine in the 1970s and 1980s,” the AFB executive committee noted.

The AFB executive committee chimed in with similar sentiments expressed by policy experts in academe, veteran politicians, diplomats, intelligence chiefs, and human rights activists. Among them were former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, leading South Asia expert and former Pakistani ambassador Hussain Haqqani, several Baloch freedom and human rights activists cutting across party lines, former head of Afghanistan’s Directorate of Security Amrullah Saleh, and even normally fierce critics of President Trump’s administration such as Prof. Christine Fair, Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

The AFB executive committee consists of Jane Eastwood Weisner, Najeeb Khan, Krishna Gudipati, Soumya Chowdhury and Habiba Ashna. The organization was founded by veteran Baloch journalist Ahmar Mustikhan, who is the president.

Hope and doubt have been expressed on whether the US president’s tweet and words will translate into actionable legislation. Mustikhan published a survey of some of these thoughts in an article titled “Wave of joy sweeps across Afghanistan, Balochistan & India over Trump’s first tweet of 2018”.