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Pakistan to renovate holy sites of minorities

Lahore, Jan 30: The Pakistan government has decided to renovate several holy sites belonging to minorities across the country, in a bid to further strengthen its case of providing safety and security to the minorities living in the country.

As per details, several gurdwaras and temples will undergo renovation across Pakistan.

Gurdwaras, Hindu temples

According to statistics, the total number of Sikh gurdwaras and Hindu temples in Pakistan are 1,830.

However, only 31 temples and gurdwaras are operational.

Official sources say that the meager number of operational temples and gurdwaras has prompted the government to take action and renovate the minority holy sites.

The Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), provincial governments along with the Sikh and Hindu community members will be part of the overall renovation process, which is likely to be completed this year.

In Punjab province, a Sikh mansion in Rawalpindi will be restored, while renovation in at least two churches and seven Hindu temples is in progress in Lahore.

Construction of temple in Islamabad

Moreover, the construction of the Hindu temple in the capital Islamabad, is also likely to be completed in 2021.

‘Karsewa of Gurdwara Dera Sahib in Lahore has been going on for many years. But the Indian members of the Karsewa Committee had to return home as their visas expired and it could not be renewed because of the pandemic. So this work was stalled and will be resumed soon,’ Sardar Ameer Sindh, Secretary General of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC), said.

‘Similarly, the restoration work at the Gurdwara Bali La, Nankani Sahib and Gurdwara Tanbo Sahib will also be completed soon,’ he added.

The ETPB has maintained that gurdwaras and Hindu temples across Pakistan will be renovated and restored, and will be made open to the communities in the coming days.

‘A major temple and gurdwara are activated every year’, said Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, head of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

‘Apart from the ETBP, the provincial governments are also playing their part in the restoration of the ancient historical temples and gurdwaras,’ he added.

Pakistan has been criticiSed for mistreating its minorities with demands of giving them easy access and open freedom to their religious sites.

The country has maintained that it is ensuring complete protection of minorities and is taking steps towards provision of access to their relative religious sites.

Cross-accusations

Recently, Pakistan and India shared cross-accusations over the treatment of minorities in each other’s countries, with India questioning of the recent mob attack on a Hindu shrine in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa’s Karak district.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has stated that his government is working towards ensuring freedom for minorities.

However, the ongoing cases of forced conversions, kidnapping and targeted attacks continue to defy the premier’s claims. (Agencies)

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New Taliban govt to uphold Islamic rules and Sharia law: Statement

(Asian News Hub) – Taliban soldiers walk towards Afghans shouting slogans, during an anti-Pakistan demonstration, near the Pakistan embassy in Kabul.

The Taliban’s religious leader, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, hours after the announcement of the new Afghanistan cabinet, issued a statement saying the new cabinet will start its work immediately.

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“As a caretaker and committed cabinet has been announced by the authorities of the Islamic Emirate to control and run the affairs of the country which will start functioning at the earliest, I assure all the countrymen that the figures will work hard towards upholding Islamic rules and Sharia law in the country, protecting the country’s highest interests, securing Afghanistan’s borders, and to ensuring lasting peace, prosperity and development,” Akhundzada said.

Also Read: Magnitude 7.0 quake strikes Mexico, no reports of serious damage

The statement also said the new government remains committed to protecting human rights.

“The Islamic Emirate will take serious and effective steps towards protecting human rights, the rights of minorities as well as the rights of the underprivileged groups within the framework of the demands of the sacred religion of Islam,” reads the statement.

AP

Also Read: PEC condoles demise of Afghan journalist Fahim Dashty

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PEC condoles demise of Afghan journalist Fahim Dashty

(Asian News Hub) – Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), the Switzerland-based global media safety body, expressed condolences over the death of
prominent Afghan journalist Fahim Dashty, who fell prey to clashes erupted between the Taliban fighters and the national resistance force
in Panshir valley on 5 September 2021.

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Associated with Kabul Weekly newspaper, Fahim was lately working as a spokesperson for Ahmad Massoud  led National Resistance Front of
Afghanistan. The anti-Taliban front officials claimed that Fahim was targeted by the Pakistani air-force drones at Anaba locality in Panshir valley. As the Taliban militants invaded Afghanistan, he joined the resistance force, popularly known as Northern Alliance.

Besides pursuing professional journalism, Fahim was also associated with Federation of Afghan Journalists and  Afghanistan National Journalists Union.

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Born into a progressive family at Dashtak village
under Anaba district in 1972, Fahim graduated from Istiqlal high school and studied law and political science at Kabul university.

“Fahim Dashty becomes the tenth journalist killed in Afghanistan since January 2021 turning the south-Asian nation the most dangerous place
for working journalists. The PEC is gravely concerned about the wellbeing of local journalists as well as journalists reporting for
international media outlets,” said Blaise Lempen, general secretary of PEC.

PEC calls on Afghanistan’s new authorities to ensure the safety of journalists and to respect press freedom, stated Lempen adding that
the global organisation was very concerned by the rapidly changing socio-political situation in Afghanistan for some years. He added that
over the past 20 years, independent media proliferated in the trouble-torn country.

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As the Taliban gains power almost across Afghanistan, the journalists are coming under increasing attacks. Those who defy the Taliban face threats, pressure, kidnapping and murder. Female journalists are at greater risk due to their public roles and all of them are now banned
from presenting news in television channels, asserted Lempen.

“Altogether 55 journalists have been killed so far this year around the world and Fahim Dashty emerges as the latest victim,” said Nava Thakuria, PEC’s south and southeast Asia representative adding that the armed militants had earlier killed Bismillah Adil Aimaq, Shahnaz Raoufi, Saadia Sadat, Mursal Waheedi, Mina Khairi, Toofan Omar,
Alireza Ahmadi, Najma Sadeqi and Danish Siddiqui (acclaimed photo-journalist from India).

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Magnitude 7.0 quake strikes Mexico, no reports of serious damage

(Asian News Hub) – A powerful earthquake struck southwestern Mexico near the beach resort of Acapulco on Tuesday night, causing rock falls and damaging buildings, though there were no immediate reports of casualties.

The 7.0 magnitude quake, which struck 11 miles northeast of the resort of Acapulco, Guerrero, shook the hillsides around Acapulco, downing trees and pitching large boulders onto the road.

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Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said while the quake had sent rocks tumbling down hillsides and damaged walls, it had not caused major damages in Acapulco’s home state of Guerrero or the neighboring region of Oaxaca, or Mexico City.

“Fortunately there hasn’t been serious damage,” he said. “We have no information so far about the loss human lives.” Acapulco is roughly 230 miles (375 km) from Mexico City.

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In the Roma Sur neighborhood of Mexico City, lights went off and scared residents rushed out, some wearing little more than pajamas, a Reuters witness said. Residents huddled together in the rain, holding young children or pets, too worried to return to their homes in the dark.

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“It was terrible. It really reminds me of the 1985 quake every time something like this happens,” said Yesmin Rizk, a 70-year-old Roma Sur resident.

The USGS said the quake, initially measured at a magnitude of 7.4 and later downgraded to 7.0, was very shallow, only 7.8 miles (12.5 km) below the surface, which would have amplified the shaking effect.

Reporting by Uriel Sanchez and Dave Graham, additional reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Writing by Shri Navaratnam; Editing by Sandra Maler, Christopher Cushing and Ana Nicolaci da Costa.

Reuters

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