PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has once again allocated specific funds for the reconstruction of the historical Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj’s Samadhi in Teri village of Karak district and for the renovation of Mahabat Khan Mosque in Peshawar.
In the past, funds were also allocated for renovation of the mosque, but authorities failed to execute the task. This year’s special budget allocation for the welfare of the transgender community is also unprecedented. This will also be the first time that a census of the marginalised transgender community shall be conducted.
Last year, the budget allocated for the renovation of the Mahabat Khan Mosque was reduced to Rs40 million from Rs50 million. K-P Minister for Religious Affairs said he could not find technical experts and architects to carry out the task in 2015-16.
The total provincial budget for the ‘recreation, culture and religion’ category was just over Rs1 billion. Out of this, Rs 279.1 million was allotted to ‘Cultural Services’ and Rs312.1 million to ‘religious affairs.’
The Rs105 million allocated for auqaf and religious affairs shall also encompass expenses required for the welfare of religious institutions, construction of walls around graveyards and establishment of a modern seminary in the provincial capital.
Sports and culture
Other than that, around Rs3.11 billion are being allocated for 59 projects in sports, tourism, archaeology, culture and youth affairs. This represents an increase of 137% in sports and culture sector compared to last year’s.
This makes up 2% of the ADP. Some of the major projects include construction of a Hazara museum in Abbotabad, arts councils and cultural complexes in districts and a tourism development unit in Peshawar. Similarly, tent facilities in scenic valleys of the province shall be arranged in order to attract international and local tourists.
Last year, the government announced rehabilitation of Nishtar Hall. Although the hall was renovated, the gallery adjacent to the hall had yet to be established. Other projects include construction of an archaeological park and reconstruction of the walled city of Peshawar, including the historic fire brigade building of Gor Gathri. These projects were not completed last year. Moreover, sports stadiums at district and tehsil level were not completed in 2015-16.
In the previous financial year, the provincial government started the ‘Za Yam Pakhtunkhwa’ programme at the tehsil level for two months during which hundreds of cultural activities were arranged. The same programme shall also be carried out in the new fiscal year.
It was said a display gallery shall also be constructed in Islamabad to portray the cultural aspects of K-P. This will attract foreign tourists to the region. The government also stated it would support arts and handicrafts.
The reconstruction of a Hindu temple in Karak district was included in last year’s budget as well, but not completed. The historic Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj’s Samadhi in Teri village of Karak district was destroyed by an influential religious leader who denied local Hindus their right to worship. The matter was brought to the Supreme Court by Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a PML-N member of the National Assembly from Tharparkar and patron of the Pakistan Hindu Council. The temple’s reconstruction was then ordered by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. However, authorities have failed to implement the directives. This year, its reconstruction is included among 10 other projects for religious minorities and Rs110.7 million has been allocated for this purpose.
The other projects include housing programmes for religious minorities, construction and restoration of their religious places, building walls around their community graveyards, as well as a special package for the people of Kalash. Other initiatives include educational scholarships, rehabilitation programmes, and security protocols.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2016.