‘Panj Tirath’ is named for the five pools of water present at the site. Image Credit: Twitter/@TheLallantop

What you need to know

  • ‘Panj Tirath’ in Peshawar, an ancient Hindu religious site, has been named a national heritage site by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government.
  • The announcement was made under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Antiquities Act of 2016.
  • A fine of 2 million Pakistani rupees and five years imprisonment to be awarded to anyone found guilty of damaging the historic site.

Dubai: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government in Pakistan declared the ancient Hindu religious site of ‘Panj Tirath’ in Peshawar as a national heritage site on Wednesday. Social media users praised the move as one towards tolerance and unity.

‘Panj Tirath’ is named for the five pools of water present at the site, as stated in a report by The News International, the largest English newspaper in Pakistan. It also houses a Hindu temple and a lawn with date palm trees.

The announcement was made under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Antiquities Act of 2016 by the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, according to Pakistani media outlet Tribal News Network. Additionally, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has announced a fine of 2 million Pakistani rupees and five years imprisonment for anyone found guilty of damaging the historic site.

Religious significance

The site holds religious significance to local Hindus who believe that King Pandu from the Mahabharata, a Hindu mythological epic, bathed in the pools and worshipped under the date palm trees for two days, as stated in a report by The Hindu, an Indian daily newspaper.

The temple has faced deterioration according to Pakistani news reports, and parts of the Panj Tirath site were cleared in the 1970s to make area for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Chacha Yunus Park.

A move acknowledging minorities

Social media users were appreciative of the liberal move towards religious diversity by Pakistan.

Twitter user @DrAyshaRaza posted: “The way all sites of historical cultural and religious significance ought to be treated by civilised nations. #CelebrateDiversity #PanjTirath”

Indian tweep @IndroMukherjee wrote: “Happy to learn that Pakistan has declared Panj Tirath as a national heritage site. Sending peace and love to my brothers on the other side. @ImranKhanPTI @sherryontopp Let’s prosper and thrive together!”

@JemHassan1 tweeted: “A wonderful news for the people. Look forward to a future with hope and peace.”

Tweep @GomathiRaghava4 added: “Words are inadequate to describe the goodwill gesture. It re-establishes common subcontinent culture.”

Rivalries revisited

Meanwhile, many Indians online lamented the current Indian government’s attitude towards minorities.

Indian netizen @mehdizafar tweeted: “While in #India, state governments are frantically changing names of places... in #Pakistan KP government has declared the ancient Hindu religious site of Panj Tirath as national heritage. Well done.”

Tweep @SarfarazSultan posted: “The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has also announced a fine of up to Rs2 million and imprisonment of five years if anyone is found guilty of destroying the Panj Tirath. What are we (India) doing? #JustAsking”

These reactions feed into the conversation that Pakistani Prime Minster Imran Khan initiated in December 2018 when he tweeted: “Naya Pakistan is Quaid’s [Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s] Pakistan and will ensure that our minorities are treated as equal citizens, unlike what is happening in India”.