The government of Pakistan catches a lot of hell from the international media, and rightly so, for its neglect of minorities in the country, but not this time.
A 900-year-old Hindu temple called “Katasraj Mandir,” situated in its Chakwal district, has undergone major renovations and is now capable of being used by the locals. The restoration of the historical site came at a cost of $5.7 million and took seven years to get completed.
Katasraj Temple After Renovations
Katasraj Temple Before Renovations
At the time of its indepenance in 1947, Pakistan had a Hindu population of 6 million, which, by 1998, had dropped down to just 2.5m. It also had 428 temples back then, but now only 26 of them exist.
According to Pakistan Hindu Council, more than 50 Hindu families from this side of the border migrate to India each month. Social injustice, general discrimination and the authorities’ failure to ensure religious freedom are some of the many problems that have contributed to the minorities plight in the region. But the latest piece of news to come out from its Punjab province suggest that the government is finally doing something to repair the damage.
The temple fell into a state of disrepair after partition and it’s poor condition made it impossible for the locals to pray at. The adjoining pond -- believed to have come into existence from the tears of Lord Shiva and where Hindus used to bathe for internal purification -- had also dried up.
A visit by India’s former deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani in 2006 forced the then President Pervez Musharraf regime to take notice. Now the broken gods have been replaced with new imported ones from India and Sri Lanka, the holy pond has water, the temple has life flowing inside it, and rumour has it that the site is being considered for World Heritage Site.
Whether for genuine political correctness or tourism purposes, it is a step in the right direction and should be appreciated. The local Hindu population is satisfied and it could go a long way in ensuring the minorities that there is a future for them in the highly volatile and religion-centric South Asian state.