Hindu shrine desecration: Can Pakistan protect its religious minorities?

By M Ilyas Khan
BBC News, Islamabad

Publishedduration1 hour agoshareSharenocloseShare pagelinkCopy linkAbout sharingimage copyrightWaseem Khatakimage captionThe ransackers smashed temple walls with sledgehammers and set it on fire

A century-old sacred Hindu shrine in Pakistan was destroyed by a Muslim mob in December – the second ransacking and desecration of the holy site.

Pakistan's Supreme Court has issued an order to officials in the north-western district of Karak to pave the way for rebuilding the Sri Param Hansji Maharaj Samadhi temple, but the attack has left the country's Hindus feeling vulnerable and the government facing accusations that it is failing to protect the country's religious minorities.

Pakistan is overwhelmingly Muslim – the Hindu community makes up less than 2% of the population. Prejudice against Hindus is ingrained.

The Hindus who attend the Sri Param Hansji Maharaj Samadhi were still in the process of rebuilding the site after the first attack, in 1997, after the Supreme Court finally issued a rebuilding order in 2015.

But in the process, the community bought and began renovating an adjacent house to provide a resting place for Hindu pilgrims – setting off a wave of anger among local Muslims convinced that the temple was being expanded.

In December, a rally was convened that was quickly whipped into a destructive mob.

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