In the wake of international outrage over demolition of an under-construction temple in Islamabad where Hindus form the miniscule minority of 3000 people, the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) has finally extended support to the construction of the temple.
Vidoes of Muslim radical elements damaging the contruction of the temple had gone viral. Egged on by the Pakistan government which was at the receiving-end of a global criticism for failing to rein in fundamentalist elements, ulemas came out in support of the temple. The Pakistan government feels that the controversy would hurt its campaign for rights of Muslims in India. “We denounce the controversy over construction of the temple. This [making it controversial] by extremist clerics is not correct. PUC will call a meeting and will also present its point of view to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII),” said Hafiz Mohammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, the chairman of PUC.
Ashrafi said the Constitution of Pakistan categorically defines the rights of Muslims and non-Muslims living in the country, according to a report in Dawn. “To have their own place of worship and offer a life as per their faith and tradition are the right given to all non-Muslims in the Constitution and as well as in Sharia. Those opposing the construction of the temple have an incorrect interpretation of Sharia,” he added.
Ashrafi, who is also the chairman of Muthahida Ulema Board, Punjab, added that the Hindus living in Pakistan were not residents of any conquered land; therefore, the the interpretation presented by certain clerics about the rights of non-Muslims in Sharia is not applicable to Hindus and members of other religious minorities living in the country, reports Dawn.
“Pakistan Ulema Council has been playing a frontline role for interfaith harmony in the country and we will continue to do so. Even in the Ulema Board there have been several unfounded complaints related to violations of the blasphemy law against the people of religious minorities but we not only turned them down but also warned the complainants in a few cases against lodging false complaints,” he added.