Culture, history and heritage; all these elements define a civilisation and society for all times to come. But here in Pakistan, these words have no meanings as historical buildings belonging to the minorities are becoming victim to the avarice and neglect of the authorities concerned. The latest example of neglect is the prominent Hindu Gymkhana building in Karachi that has been under the use of National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA). Delaying tactics are being used by the authorities concerned despite the instructions of the Supreme Court for vacating the building, which belongs to the Hindu community. Shree Ratneshwar Mahadev Welfare has been pursuing the case since 2014. For a country created to protect and house the Muslim minority of greater India, Pakistan has fallen woefully short of providing fundamental rights to its own minorities and protecting their heritage sites. Reportedly, the heritage site belonged to the Hindu community of Karachi before the partition as it was established for the promotion of social and religious activities of Hindus, but the government took it over as an evacuee trust property after the partition.
The SC’s intervention in the matter is a very welcome step in restoring some faith our minorities may have once had in us. The latest direction by the top court for vacating the building is a positive development. This is a small drop in the ocean of hate mongering, discrimination and negligence against the Hindu community in Pakistan. They do not know what it is like to freely profess and follow their religion and they do not even have very basic human rights. The sorry fact remains that the SC now wants a report now on how the government will take measures for the preservation of the Gymkhana building. The interest shown by the SC in the restoration of a temple belonging to the minority community can only be welcomed. Now it is the government’s responsibility to act wisely and make efforts for the preservation of the historical site.