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Heritage Saving Gurdwaras in Pakistan

Discussion in 'History of Sikhism' started by findingmyway, Feb 20, 2011.

  1. findingmyway

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    Writer SPNer Contributor Supporter

    Aug 18, 2010
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    Written by an anonymous author.

    Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh.

    I wish to share a concern that has evolved with the developments that are taking place in Pakistan in the last few years and their effects on Sikh historical sites.

    Since the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan Sikhs had been denied access and management of the historical Gurdwaras for many years. Hence, the Ardas (Sikh Rehat Maryada) contained a stanza which we have been using for years requesting for the ability to manage the historical sites in Pakistan. Attempts were made by Sikhs all over the world by creating the Nanakana Sahib Foundation and The SGPC Pakistan to move in this direction. Some developments did take place with the earlier governments of Pakistan which resulted in the removal of some travel restrictions for Sikhs. Many Sikhs from the US, UK, Europe and Malaysia have worked hard to restore the Gurdwara buildings and other structures. Some financial assistance and welfare programs have been initiated in the last ten years. Despite this the management of all the Gurdwaras is under the Wakaf Boards who manage all the property belonging to the Gurdwaras. Some of the land especially in Nanakana Sahib has been under the control of many Muslim families for generations and they will not part with it. (information gathered from Gangga Singh Dillion).

    Now we are seeing the emergence of Islam in Pakistan that is less tolerant towards the other communities and religions. ( source news items both written and electronic). In the move by the Pakistani Army in the tribal region against the Taliban we had news of Sikhs being executed, extortion attempts and deliberate attempts to drive the Sikh out of the northern part of Pakistan. There are witness accounts to this and the influx of the refuguees to Nanakana Sahib is a fact. The level of Religious tolerance in Pakistan is getting less and conversely extremist elements and ideology are getting stronger.These development can be seen from the latest assassination in Lahore and the reaction of the learned lawyers and other people who due to their education should have been more liberal but were not.

    Let us now assume this trend develops in the coming years and then we will be moving towards a situation we have witnessed in Afghanistan. Sikhs have lost all the important sites in Kabul and other parts of the country and many Sikhs had to flee and become refugees.This was despite the close cooperation given by Sikhs to the Taliban in the fight against the Soviet occupation. If this happens in Pakistan, then the Sikhs have more to lose especially the main center of the Religion Nanakana Sahib and the other sites in Lahore.

    It is my humble opinion that Sikhs all over the world need to bring this up for discussion. We need to lobby governments over the world, in any way that we can, to inform them of the importance of the Sikh historical shrines (Gurdwaras) in Pakistan. In addition i am sure historian will be able to discover the provisions in the documents of 1948 (Independance for India and creation of Pakistan) which would have guaranteed the maintenance and preservation of these Sikh historical sites.Early intervention could safe guard our heritage. My intention is positive and seek a healthy discussion to prepare for the future if it happens (contingency planning). Regards.
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