Sikh minorities in Pakistan facing persistent discrimination, on their way to becoming extinct
New Delhi, May 4, 2021: Although the neighboring country Pakistan had garnered global attention for opening Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims based in India, also paving the way for strengthening the bilateral relations, Sikh minorities in Pakistan are still certainty for struggling for making their presence known even in government figures.
During partition in 1947, a significant amount of the Sikh population has migrated to some of the major cities of Pakistan including Faisalabad, Lahore, and Rawalpindi. As per the data of Pakistan's National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), there are only 6,146 Sikhs registered in Pakistan however a census conducted by an NGO Sikh Resource and Study Centre (SRSC) reveals that there are around 50,000 Sikhs that still live in Pakistan.
Presently, most of the Sikhs are settled in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, followed by Sindh and Punjab.
Interestingly, there is no refined data on the numbers of Sikhs in Pakistan. The Sikhs were not even included in the 2017 population census. While there are no government figures to show the status of Sikh minorities in Pakistan, a various social organization advocating for the minorities claims that the Sikh population has drastically come down in past two decades.
The organizations claimed that with the decreasing population, the challenges of remaining Sikh minorities have only increased. Few opportunities in education and lack of employment, attack, forced conversion, and no or delayed justice have pushed many Sikh youths in Pakistan to poverty.
The Centre for Democracy, Pluralism and Human Rights (CDPHR), in its report released last month, said, "Minorities in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan are forced to lead lives which are perpetually under siege. Theoretically, Pakistan's Constitution provides equal rights to all citizens, but these are only on paper. Religious minorities - Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Ahmadis even Shias - are treated as non-citizens. They are people without a voice; people without any constitutionally or legally protected rights."
"Minorities are stateless in the State of Pakistan. Punjab dominated military-politician complex violates human rights not only of religious minorities but also of Balochs and Hazaras," said CDPHR in its report.
Last year in September, the members of the Delhi Sikhs Community has also staged a protest against the abduction of the Panja Sahib head granthi's daughter in Pakistan and her forcible conversion to Islam.
A considerable section of Sikh community had blamed Pakistan for religious persecution. Even though many reports clearly showing that how Sikh minorities are facing constant struggle and discrimination, the Pakistan government continues to claim that there is no religious persecution in the nation.
If such incidents continue and the Pakistan government takes no steps for safeguarding the minority communities, the Sikh minorities will eventually go extinct.