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Islam Plight Of Sikhs And Minorities In Taliban Controlled Areas Of Pakistan

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1947-2014 (Archived)
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Jun 17, 2004
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The Times of India
(http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/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.”

Good.

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
 

Archived_Member5

(previously jeetijohal, account deactivated at her
Mar 14, 2006
388
76
London, UK
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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