ISLAMABAD: The Pakis­tan Hindu Council (PHC) has decided to celebrate Holi with fanfare in Multan’s Parlhad Mandir next month and invited the country’s top leaders to attend the festivities.

According to the PHC, the initiative is aimed at “highlighting the importance of this holy site and also to expose the authorities’ indifference” to the crumbing structure.

A report submitted to the Supreme Court by a commission, headed by Dr Shoaib Suddle, has underlined that the Holi festival started from the spot where Parlhad Mandir stands today.

The Supreme Court had set up the commission for enforcement of its orders related to the rights of religious minorities.

Three individuals — Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, an MNA; Saqib Jillani, an advocate of the apex court and son of former chief justice Tassaduq Jillani; and the additional attorney general — were asked to assist the commission.

“It is an honour for Pakistan to house the very place from where Holi festival started,” said Dr Vank­wani while talking to Dawn.

“It is unfortunate that the ancient temple is in a path­etic state, but the authorities simply do not bother.”

According to Dr Vankwani, the four holiest Hindu sites in Pakistan are Parlhad Man­dir, Katas Raj near Chakwal in Punjab, Hinglaj Mata temple in Balochistan, and the shrine of Sadhu Shri Para­mhans Ji Maharaj in Karak, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“The three other sites are open to the public, but Parlhad temple remains closed. Its ghostly ambience drives away even the most intrepid of visitors,” the parliamentarian observed.

In reply to a question about the authorities’ apathy to the decaying temple, a spokesman for the Evacuee Trust Property Board said the organisation had allocated a significant amount for carrying out repairs and renovation, but the local administration was reluctant to issue a no-objection certificate due to the presence of hardliners in the vicinity.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2021

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