Chakwal (Pakistani Punjab) January 11 (Dawn): Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said here on Wednesday , that the day is not far when Pakistan will be recognized as a “minorities-friendly country” and that his government is taking steps to improve the lives of under-represented religious groups.
The Premier said his government, through its actions, promotes the belief that ‘to each his own faith’ . Humanity is what should bind the nation together ,he added.
He was speaking at a ceremony at the 1500 year old Katasraj Hindu temple complex in Chakwal in the Punjab.
Sharif said followers of all religions have equal rights in Pakistan, noting that they had worked hand-in-hand to defend the country and contributed to its prosperity.
The Prime Minister said that he has advised his officials to spare no effort in hosting non-Muslim pilgrims and ensuring the protection and expansion of their places of worship.
He also said he would lend his full support for the construction of the Baba Guru Nanak and Gandhara universities.
He observed that Islam and all other religions preach peace, and those preaching otherwise are not doing any service to their religion.
The Prime Minister made frequent references to Islamic history to stress that it has been part of the Islamic faith to treat minorities equally.
He recalled that when, in the early days of Islam, after Muslims migrated to Madina to escape persecution and came into power, they treated the “minorities living there with respect”. He said Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) even declared those minorities “one nation” along with Muslims.
He said the Holy Quran states that God is the God of everyone and not just the Muslims, adding that there should be no distinction on the basis of caste, color or creed because “we are all one as human beings”.
Sharif reiterated that he is the Prime Minister of all Pakistanis and “not just Muslim Pakistanis”.
Inaugurates Water plant
Sharif earlier inaugurated a water filtration plant at the Katasraj temple.
The filtration plant, set up at the temple’s holy Amrat Jal pond, will provide clean drinking water to visiting Hindu pilgrims.
Sharif also planted a sapling on the temple’s premises.
He visited different sections of the temple and was briefed about their historic significance.
Patch work restoration at Katasrj temple ,Pakistan.The Katasraj site houses the Satgraha or seven temples, a gathering of seven old temples, remains of a Buddhist stupa, a couple of medieval sanctuaries, havelis (secular dwellings) and some newly built sanctuaries, scattered around a lake considered sacred by Hindus.
The sanctuaries at Katasraj are mostly developed on square platforms. The elevation of the sub shrines seems to form a series of cornices with small rows of pillars, crowned by a ribbed dome.
According to Alan Cunningham, the first Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India (1872-73 CE), Katasraj is the second biggest holy place in Punjab for Hindus after Jawala Mukhi.
It is said that the Pancha Pandavas of the Mahabharata lived for 12 years in Katasraj and assembled the sanctuaries of Satghara.
Katasraj, a conglomeration of temples preserves at least a 1500 year history, ranging from the Buddhist era to British rule.
(The images used are by Nefer Sehgal. Courtesy Dawn)