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Sikh Community Expresses Concern Over Exclusion from Pakistan

August 17, 2023

On Saturday, members and leaders of the Sikh community in Peshawar expressed their dismay at being ‘left out’ of the national census. They stated that they felt their community would not be sufficiently represented in Pakistan’s first national headcount in 19 years.

“The concerned department did not include members of the Sikh minority in the count that is now taking place. “Not only is it unfortunate for us, but it is also a point of great concern for the community that we were missed out in the counting exercise,” Radesh Sing Tony, the chairman of a Sikh group, told DawnNews. “It is a point of great concern for the community.”

He was upset that the Sikh population, which he claimed was present in Pakistan in substantial numbers but was not recognized as one of the religions represented on the census form, was not represented.

He pointed out that members of the Sikh religion would be recorded as belonging to the ‘other’ religion group on the form, which would not paint an authentic picture of the Sikh population.

He stated, “This is an injustice, we are being deprived of our rights,” and I paraphrase: “This is an injustice.”

The religious movement that is now over 500 years old got its start in an area that is now a part of Pakistan. After both countries earned their independence from Britain in 1947, the majority of Sikhs emigrated from Pakistan to India.

Continue reading to learn more about the declining Sikh population in Pakistan.

There are around 20,000 Sikhs still living in Pakistan today, the most of whom can be found in the country’s volatile northwest regions. These regions have been shaken by an Islamist insurgency for more than a decade, which has forced many Sikhs to flee their homes in the tribal areas on the Afghan border and settle in the city of Peshawar.

Tony revealed that he had sent a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan as well as the Chief Justices of the Sindh High Court and the Peshawar High Court demanding that the community be counted as an official religion.

When asked about it, Habibullah Khan, a spokesperson for the census exercise, confirmed that the census authorities had made an error in their calculations when he was called.

In an interview with DawnNews, he stated, “Yes, there is a sizeable population of Sikhs living in Pakistan; however, have we missed them in the census?”

He stated that the census forms had been printed in 2007, and according to the proposal of a 120-person technical committee, just five different religions had been included on the forms.

He admitted that the Sikh population may have been relatively small in 2007, but that it has grown since that year. He said this to show that the Sikh population was growing.

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