Amnesty International has urged Pakistan to allow the construction of a Hindu temple in the capital, Islamabad, that was halted amid opposition to the project from religious and political circles.
"Everyone has a right to freedom of religion or belief, a right that is guaranteed in Pakistan's constitution and its international obligations," the London-based human rights watchdog tweeted on July 7.
Halting the construction of the Hindu temple "is an unconscionable act of bigotry that must be reversed immediately," it added.
The government of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved plans in 2017 to build Islamabad’s first Hindu temple, with a crematorium, a community hall, and parking spaces.
The government of the current prime minister, Imran Khan, earlier this year approved a grant of Rs100 million (nearly $600,000) for the construction of the Shri Krishna Madir temple, but Muslim clerics and politicians, including the chief of the PML-Q party, an ally of Khan, said they strongly opposed the move.
Last week, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) halted construction of the boundary wall at the site saying it did not have an approved building plan. The move came after part of the wall was allegedly demolished by fundamentalists opposed to the project.
The government later said it was seeking advice from Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), a body of Islamic scholars, on whether state money can be used for the construction of the temple.
Mainly Muslim Pakistan is home to an estimated 8 million Hindus, including some 3,000 in Islamabad.
With reporting by dpa and The Nation