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Islam Plight of Sikhs and Minorities in Taliban Controlled Areas of Pakistan

Discussion in 'Interfaith Dialogues' started by spnadmin, May 13, 2009.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    1947-2014 (Archived)
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    Jun 17, 2004
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    The Times of India
    reported: "On seeing reports about Sikh families
    in Pakistan being driven out of their homes and
    being subjected to `jaziya' and other such
    impositions, the Indian government has taken up
    the question of treatment of minorities in
    Pakistan with the government of Pakistan,” said
    MEA official spokesperson Vishnu Prakash. ...
    According to reports, Taliban militants have
    demolished 11 homes of members of the minority
    Sikh community in Pakistan's troubled Aurakzai
    tribal region after they failed to pay `jaziya'.

    PTI reported from Islamabad: The National
    Assembly or lower house of the parliament adopted
    a resolution recommending that President Zardari
    should accord approval to the Nizam-e-Adal
    Regulation to implement Shariah or Islamic laws
    in Swat. The resolution was passed following a
    debate in the House. The main opposition Pakistan
    Muslim League-Nawaz has offered its full support
    to the Regulation. (Rezaul H Laksar , April 13, 2009)

    And on Rediff.com this appeared: After the
    Hindus, it is the Sikhs who are fleeing the
    restive Taliban dominated Swat region in
    Pakistan. At least 200 Sikhs have fled the Swat
    region and are taking shelter in various gurudwaras in Pakistan.

    IANS reported this under the headline
    “Christians, Hindus, Sikhs forced to flee Swat:
    Catholic Church”: The minorities in Pakistan’s Swat Valley
    have been forced to flee as the Taliban have
    imposed a tax on non-Muslims, Pakistan Catholic
    Bishops’ Conference (PCBC) president Archbishop
    Lawrence John Saldanha has said, urging the
    Pakistani president and prime minister to
    intervene. Expressing concern over the
    government’s move to allow the imposition of
    Sharia laws in parts of the North West Frontier
    Province, the archbishop said in his letter to
    the Pakistani leaders: “We note with sorrow that
    your government has failed to take stock of the
    concerns of civil society in Pakistan in your
    decision. “Christian, Hindu and Sikh families
    have been forced to flee because the Taliban
    imposed on them Jizia, a tax levied on
    non-Muslims living under Islamic rule,” he said.
    “Besides jeopardising the socio-economic and
    cultural growth in Swat and Malakand, the
    decision has also given legal sanction to the
    diktats of the trigger-happy Taliban,” the archbishop’s letter said.

    But Mariana comfortably tries to mix sentiments
    with a state- sponsored propaganda and reports
    they didn’t flee from Swat because of fear of the
    Taliban. She quotes a Sardarji from Swat, “What
    is this propaganda that we have been forced to
    flee Swat and Buner because of the Taliban’s
    oppression? Please, the media has to distinguish
    between what happened to the Sikhs in the Orakzai
    agency, and why we have come here”.

    They are “relaxed and comfortable”, and have no
    fear from the Taliban, according to the Pakistani
    reporter. In fact, they are lovable friends, she
    says. Mariana quotes a Sikh, “The heavily armed
    Taliban came to our village, stopped their
    vehicles in the bazaar and greeted us. We too
    greeted them and offered them cold drinks. They
    said they would pay but we insisted. They have
    been around for quite some time now, but have left us alone.”

    So, who were the Sikhs brutalized by the Taliban?
    Her friend clarifies: “They were from Orakzai and
    have now gone to Peshawar gurudwara!”

    She creates the same confusion as a section of
    the Pakistani press created post-26/11 that the
    Mumbai attackers were a part of “CIA-MOSSAD-Hindu
    radical” plot, and quotes another Sikh, “God only
    knows whether the ones in Orakzai who are
    victimizing the Sikhs are even Taliban or not.
    They could be someone else in the guise of the Taliban.”


    Sikhs from Swat, taking refuge in Panja Sahib
    gurudwara, Hasan Abdal, are in a ‘Spartan’
    surroundings, ‘better than the Swati Muslim
    refugees’, 'girls speak impeccable English’ and
    are dressed ‘smartly' and “none of the Swati
    baggy gypsy dresses for them”. And lo and behold,
    in spite of being forced to leave their home and
    hearth, the way they are being treated makes
    their every day as celebrative as Baisakhi. She
    quotes a woman, “Every day has been Basaki (sic)
    for them since they have been here.”

    So what’s the fuss about?

    News reports about Taliban brutalizing, imposing
    Jijia on non Muslims, Pakistani army being pushed
    into action against them under US pressure, in
    one day 55 Taliban reportedly killed by Pakistani
    army * all became irrelevant if one believes this kind of a “report”.

    She has had Sikhs saying things which Taliban would like to hear.

    Naturally so. If you are a Hindu or a Sikh in
    Pakistan, you are required to sing paeans to the
    perpetrators of atrocities in order to survive
    yet another day. Accept purdah the Muslim way,
    don’t read Hindi or Sanskrit to study your
    religious scriptures * read them all in Urdu.
    Don’t sport a bindi on your forehead. Learn to
    greet everyone the Islamic way. I have seen Hindu
    Pandits in Karachi’s famous Shiva temple wearing
    Muslim skullcaps inside the temple. Perplexed,
    when I asked the reason, they smiled and said:
    “It helps to be like the majority here.”

    It was like Imam Bukhari wearing a Gandhi cap
    while addressing the faithful in Delhi's Jama
    Masjid and reading Koran in Hindi with a smile on
    his face saying, it’s nice to be like the majority.

    Acceptable? It’s acceptable only if the
    minorities happen to be Hindus in a Muslim-majority country.

    The tribe of such professionals never asks a
    question why the number of Hindus and Sikhs has
    been continuously on the decline in Pakistan
    since 1947? Why do they have no voice in the
    politics and governance, in the administration
    and social sector? Just one Sikh was admitted to
    the army sometime ago and it made international news!

    The fact is the growing Talibanization of
    Pakistan is a direct result of strengthening of
    Deobandi school of Wahabism, which has
    accelerated the process of Arabization of
    Pakistani society and governance. Till Zia ul
    Haq, textbooks had a lesson on Ramayana and Hindi
    was taught in schools having a sizable Hindu
    students. Not any more. I searched almost all the
    bookshops in Karachi, Pakistan’s intellectual
    workstation, to find any book, in any language,
    on Hindu or Sikh pilgrim centres of Pakistan. I could find none.

    Yet the common people are astoundingly different,
    they still nurture the relations which are mostly
    based on caste and language affiliations.
    Rajputs, Khatris, Gujjars, Sindhis have
    extraordinary bonds with their counterparts
    across the border cutting the religious fault
    lines. I saw it during my pilgrimage to Mata
    Hinglaj in Baluchistan three years ago. Besides
    that, there exists a section in Pakistan society
    that is well meaning, reasonable and works hard
    to see Hindus and other non-Muslim minorities are
    accorded a respectable place. But they are
    gradually being reduced to a negligible minority
    and the Taliban elements train their guns on them
    more severely. One of such scholars Dr Pervez
    Hoodbhoy, who is a Professor of Physics of
    Quad-e-Azam University, Islamabad, recently wrote
    an eye-opening piece. It’s worth reading and for
    the benefit of readers I must quote a few lines:

    “To understand Pakistan's collective masochism,
    one needs to study the drastic social and
    cultural transformations that have made this
    country so utterly different from what it was in
    earlier times. For three decades, deep tectonic
    forces have been silently tearing Pakistan away
    from the Indian subcontinent and driving it towards the Arabian Peninsula.

    “This continental drift is not physical but
    cultural, driven by a belief that Pakistan must
    exchange its South Asian identity for an
    Arab-Muslim one. Grain by grain, the desert sands
    of Saudi Arabia are replacing the rich soil that
    had nurtured a rich Muslim culture in India for a thousand years.

    “Villages have changed drastically, driven in
    part by Pakistani workers returning from Arab
    countries. Many village mosques are now giant
    madrassas that propagate hard-line Salafi and
    Deobandi beliefs through oversized loudspeakers.

    “As a part of General Zia-ul-Haq's cultural
    offensive, Hindi words were expunged from daily
    use and replaced with heavy-sounding Arabic ones.
    Persian, the language of Mughal India had once
    been taught as a second or third language in many
    Pakistani schools. But, because of its
    association with Shiite Iran, it too was dropped
    and replaced with Arabic. The morphing of the
    traditional "khuda hafiz" (Persian for "God be
    with you") into "allah hafiz" (Arabic for "God be
    with you") took two decades to complete. The Arab
    import sounded odd and contrived, but ultimately
    the Arabic God won and the Persian God lost.”

    But as the discernible readers would have marked,
    even a reasonable Pakistani scholar like him had
    no words to say about the plight of non-Muslim
    minorities. There are sincere human rights
    activists taking up the cause of the minorities.
    Most of them have close links with the Indian
    Left and so keep a distance from India's Hindu
    responses. Yet, they serve a purpose worth an
    applause. I have met a Pakistani medical
    practitioner who has been helping build a temple
    for Hindu Valmikis (those who are still
    considered outcasts by an arrogant ritualistic
    Hindu section considering itself as 'high
    caste'.) and propagating vegetarianism. Every
    time he comes to India, invariably he would take
    a few small size stone sculptures of Hindu gods
    and goddesses for his friends. He says, “My
    ancestors broke too many temples. Let me do my
    bit to heal the Hindu wounds.” Extraordinary
    tale. I too wouldn’t have believed it if I had not met him personally.

    Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy's article gives an honest
    account of what a section of Pakistanis feels
    about the transformation that has taken place there.

    We have good people everywhere, even in Saudi
    Arabia. So what? Do they have the strength and
    courage to finally stand up and provide
    protection to the hapless Hindus and Sikhs? In
    the last three months more than 6,000 Hindus were
    forced to flee Peshawar and Orakzai and take
    shelter in India. Did it make any difference to
    the seculars here? If a Hindu majority state
    remains unperturbed at the plight of Hindu
    refugees from Kashmir, how can we expect them to
    take any action to help Hindus and Sikhs in
    Pakistan? Socialist leader Lohia in the sixties
    had clearly stated that the Indian state will
    always remain responsible to ensure protection
    and guarantee of life and faith to the Hindus and
    Sikhs in Pakistan. In 1971, the hero of the
    Bangladesh liberation, Lt Gen J F R Jacob, had
    asked Mrs Indira Gandhi to ensure that the Hindu
    minorities were guaranteed safety and honour in
    the newly liberated state. Nothing happened.
    Indian leaders, remain silent and have their
    confused Pakistan policy mired in friendship
    diplomacy, which Islamabad has never reciprocated honestly.

    Though Talibanization of Pakistan is affecting
    Muslims too, it has harder lessons for non-Muslim
    minorities in Pakistan who have been denied equal
    civil and religious rights in a country which
    owes its birth to an intense hate-Hindu mindset.
    Is that what makes Pakistani Hindus and Sikhs say
    they are being taken care of like a gul (flower), that too in Buner?

    Copied from a post in the Gurmat Learning Zone, by Jagpal Singh Tiwana
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  3. Archived_Member5

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    (previously jeetijohal, account deactivated at her

    Mar 14, 2006
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    Whilst supporting freedom to practice religion by all faiths, a one nation, one faith agenda eliminates cultural and religious divisions. Oppositions of both sides hold defensive, irrational and equally extremist views. Disbanding religion is not an option. It is noted radical extremism in political, feminist, heathen, sexist, racial and religious views is unhealthy for a civilised and effectively governed nation. Extremists using religion to legitimise their oppressive regimes of tyranny are dangerous and violate civil liberty laws. Whilst both the US and Islam are two diametrically opposing extremes of a singular problem. Control of the people must be facilitated by the rule of moral and theological principles, not cultural manifestations of oppressive and inhibitive rule by small minded extremists devoid of any saving grace other than literal and barbaric interpretations and implementations of scriptural law. True freedom of a people, race and culture is orchestrated and implemented by the wise driven by the will of love and the purpose of peace and prosperity. The illogical mishandling verging on the criminally negligent administrative hand of such powers creates uprising, hatred and hardship as external political rivals drive deep divisions in what are considered competing nations to create civil instability and the resulting sanctions and withdrawal of much needed investment and industrialisation to maintain a growing and burgeoning population requiring employment, housing, and food. Globalisation has caused many migrant populations to flee native homelands in search of economic salvation. It is a world problem that is a matter for the UN and its affiliates to engineer to a peaceful conclusion. Vested party interests and bias against certain religions, nations and faiths has caused what is considered as mismanagement. Sikhs being driven from their homes in Pakistan is a terrible state of affairs for Pakistan and Sikhs. Bhutto caused riots to increase popularity and need of her candidacy, her assassination has caused a reversal of this trend. Pakistan is an emerging economy built upon the sweat and blood of its indigenous migrant population. At a time relations are viewed as peaceable with the Punjab it is indeed disheartening to learn of the Taliban imposing hardship and expulsion of Sikhs from their homes. In’shallah if Allah is merciful any propaganda campaigns to taint either side will be absolved and each allowed to practice their faith whilst co-existing with their fellow Islamic and Hindu brothers.
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