200-year-old temple returned to Hindu community in Balochistan

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Maulana Allah Dad, a cleric (left), handed over an old temple to the Hindu community in Zhob, Balochistan, on Thursday, February 6, 2020. The temple was converted into a school soon after the partition of Subcontinent in 1947. (Photo Supplied)
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Authorities in southwest Pakistan handed over an old temple to the Hindu community in Zhob, Balochistan, on Thursday, February 6, 2020. The temple was converted into a school soon after the partition of Subcontinent in 1947. (Photo Supplied)
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Updated 08 February 2020

200-year-old temple returned to Hindu community in Balochistan

  • In a grand gesture of inter-faith harmony, a Muslim prayer leader invited Hindus back to their worship place
  • Around 60 Hindu families live in the Muslim-majority district of Zhob near the Pak-Afghan border

ISLAMABAD: The Hindu community in Balochistan’s Zhob district deeply appreciated the provincial administration after it handed them back an old temple in a heartwarming gesture on Thursday.
One of the top Hindu leaders of the area said it was a great moment of excitement when a Muslim cleric invited his community members back to the 200-year-old temple by unveiling a commemorative plaque in a well-attended ceremony.
“I cannot express the happiness of my community in words,” Saleem Jan, a Hindu based in Zhob, told Arab News on phone from his hometown near the Pak-Afghan border on Friday. “It is always great to get back one’s worship place, but when an Islamic prayer leader opens it for his Hindu fellows it becomes a huge honor and a great gesture of interfaith harmony.”
He added that the event, where a local cleric, Allah Daad Kakar, handed over the temple to Hindus, was attended by officials and representatives of different political and religious parties. Deputy Commissioner Zhob Taha Saleem, who was also the chief guest at the occasion, said that the gesture was significant for several reasons.
“Balochistan is thought to be a volatile and dangerous territory, especially for the religious minorities, but different events, including this one, tell us a different story: It’s a story of a province where people are considered brothers regardless of their faith,” Saleem told Arab News, adding the second significant aspect of the development was the presence of all political parties, including Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam and Jamaat-e-Islami.
Saleem said a school had been set up in the temple after a chunk of Hindu population left for India in the wake of the partition of the region in 1947. “While the locals established a school in the building, they did not touch the original structure. Once again, this says a great deal about the interfaith harmony in the area,” the official said, adding the school had now been shifted to government offices meant for local administration officials.
The deputy commissioner said a plaque at the gate of the temple had 1929 written on it, implying that the temple was about 100 years old. However, the Hindu community leader, Jan, claimed it was twice as old since the gate was constructed almost a century after the temple was built in the last part of the Maratha reign.
The community, which has been using another small temple in the town for rituals and worship, urged the authorities to do more.
They noted that officials had also assured them to recover a Sikh Gurdwara in the city. “This will fulfil the dreams for around six Sikh families living here,” Jan said, adding that the Hindu community had also been deprived of the Shamshan Ghat – or the cremation ground – for over 70 years.
“A high school has been built on the Shamshan Gath,” Jan said. “Members of the Hindu community have to take their deceased family members to Quetta for cremation.”
However, he added that the local community did not want to relocate another education institution at this stage.
“We have been promised a different place for Shamshan Gath, and we are happy with that,” he said, adding his community members were also hopeful to get a residential colony.
This demonstration of interfaith harmony, he said, was not alien to the community.
“We defied terrorists by sticking together during the days of intense violence,” Jan recalled. “Hindus and Muslims in our area have been joining each other in moments of happiness and mourning. Muslims celebrate our festivals and we celebrate theirs.”


South Africa's Du Plessis says bubble life is not sustainable for players

Updated 33 min 35 sec ago

South Africa's Du Plessis says bubble life is not sustainable for players

  • South Africa's Du Plessis says bubble life is not sustainable for players
  • The South African player beleives Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi can pose problems for his team

ISLAMABAD: South African cricketer Faf du Plessis believes spending months in a bio-secure bubble could soon become a major challenge for players.

“We understand that this is a very tough season and a tough challenge for a lot of people out there, but if it’s back-to-back-to-back bubble life, things would become a big challenge,” du Plessis said during a virtual news conference on Saturday.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, cricketers have to adhere to strict procedures for an international series. In countries like Pakistan, international games are being played in empty stadiums and players' movement confined to just their hotel and stadiums.

Du Plessis is one of those South African cricketers, along with captain Quinton de Kock, to have experienced life in a bubble over the last few months. He played in the Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates and home series against Sri Lanka. Now he has a two-test series in Pakistan, starting Tuesday in Karachi, followed by the second test at Rawalpindi.

“The main priority is to play cricket, to be out there doing what we love instead of being at home … so I think that still remains the most important thing. But I think there would definitely come a point where players would struggle with this (bubble)," du Plessis said.

“If you look at a calendar of the last eight months, you’re looking at about four or five months in a bubble, which is a lot. For some of us (being) without family, it can get challenging. Right now, I’m still in a good place. I’m still feeling really motivated and driven, but I can only speak for myself.

“I don’t think it’s possible to continue from bubble to bubble to bubble, I’ve seen and heard a lot of players talk about it. I don’t think it’s sustainable.”

The South African team practiced at the National Stadium -- the venue for the test opener -- for the first time on Saturday. Before that, the visitors had been practicing at a stadium close to the team hotel for the last four days where they played intra-squad matches.

“For now, (I'm) enjoying the four walls of my room and then the pitch outside where we can get to do what we love,” du Plessis said.

The 36-year-old du Plessis, who has appeared in 67 test matches for South Africa with a batting average topping 40, will be playing his first test in Pakistan since making his debut against Australia in 2012. Pakistan last hosted South Africa in 2007. In 2009 international cricket’s doors were shut on Pakistan after an attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team bus at Lahore.

Du Plessis has played seven test matches against Pakistan that included two in the UAE and five in South Africa.

Du Plessis is South Africa’s most experienced player touring Pakistan, but wasn’t sure what type of wickets will be prepared for the two tests.

“I think that’s possibly the biggest thing that we are unsure about,” he said.

“As a team we try to prepare for everything and anything, overprepare, spin conditions, reverse swinging ball … if I have to call it, I probably said I think that wickets will be a bit more subcontinent like than it used to be back then (in 2007), so spinners would probably be more a little bit more in the game.”

Du Plessis has picked fit-again Pakistan all-format captain Babar Azam and fast bowler Shaheen Afridi as the two players who could pose problems for the tourists. Babar has regained fitness from a fractured thumb — in his absence Pakistan lost both the Twenty20 and test series in New Zealand.

“Obviously, having Babar back is massive for them,” du Plessis said.

“Afridi has been getting a lot of wickets, so probably someone like him would be pretty dangerous.”