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Source: Amnesty International –

Pakistan’s authorities must protect the right to freedom of religion and belief for the country’s beleaguered Hindu community, including the construction of temples to exercise that right, Amnesty International said today.

The human rights organization’s call came as authorities in Islamabad capitulated to pressure from a discriminatory campaign mounted by politicians, media outlets and   clerics to halt the construction of a rare temple in the Pakistani capital. The boundary wall of the site where the temple is supposed to be constructed has also been torn down by a mob.

“The respect for the right to freedom of religion was promised to Pakistan’s Hindus by the country’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Those who deny a long-marginalized community the right to practise their faith freely not only betray his legacy, but also violate the human rights of religious minorities protected under Pakistan’s constitution and its international human rights obligations,” said Omar Waraich, Head of South Asia at Amnesty International.

 “Pakistan claimed positive global attention last year when it opened the Sikh temple at Kartarpur to pilgrims from India. By caving into hateful pressure, it now threatens to reverse that achievement and deepen the discrimination that Pakistan’s Hindu community faces.”

 The destruction of the Hindu temple site is yet another example of persistent discrimination faced by the Hindu community in Pakistan. In recent years, they have faced increasing marginalization, with individuals facing false accusations of “blasphemy” – a crime that carries a mandatory death penalty in Pakistan – attacks on temples and shops, and the horrific abduction, forced conversion and forced marriage of hundreds of young Hindu women.

 In 2019, in two separate incidents, mobs attacked Hindu properties and places of worship in the southern Sindh province after allegations of “blasphemy” were made against a Hindu school principal and a Hindu veterinarian.

Every reported act of violence against minorities must be promptly investigated and those responsible must be brought to justice.