If one only looks at the legalities of it, CDA’s handling of the boundary wall of a temple in Islamabad appears to be based only on technical reasons. According to the CDA, it had stopped construction of the boundary wall on the plot because of some irregularities in the following of procedure. CDA spokesman Mazhar Hussain said the building control laws of the civic authority clearly stated that no activity could take place on a plot until the building plan was approved.

Yet this issue is far beyond just a legal one. There will inevitably be a barrage of political and social impact behind the decision to stop the construction of a religious building, particularly one belonging to a minority religion. The fact that this is the first time that this clause is being enforced to suspend the construction raises suspicion that there were more deep-seated political reasons behind this action. The constitution of Pakistan grants equality to all—it is needlessly politicising the issue if only a Hindu temple is halted, while usual practice is that all other owners of property are allowed to construct boundary walls and ensure possession of their plot while formalities regarding approval of the map continue. The opposition of the clerics belonging to JUI-F does not hold legally either—the Hindu community was building the temple with its own resources.

This is a small issue, which if not handled properly, could escalate into a dangerous one. The government must resist calls from a few clerics in opposition to the temple’s construction, and ensure the temple is completed. Stopping the construction of a temple is a bad look—not only will it further domestic religious divides but hinders Pakistan’s credibility to criticise India’s bigotry. The temple is needed to uphold minority rights but is also a clear foreign policy statement; actions such as these matter on the world stage.