Stories about Sikhs

O’ Parachinar, your loyalty is not enough for Pakistan

Addey, my grandmother, would reminisce about memories of her father with pride in her eyes and say, “I was a little girl of seven and the memory of him sitting in a room and sewing green coloured clothes and the flag of Pakistan with his own hands before the Partition is still afresh in my eyes. He used to write letters to Mohammad Ali Jinnah on behalf of the people of Parachinar to express his willingness to join Pakistan. He received directions by him in return for the Pakistan Movement in this tribal region. He travelled on horses along with other companions from Parachinar to Delhi to meet Jinnah ...

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Of coexistence, mannequin challenges and Pakistan

The history of the region where Pakistan exists today would tell you a lot about its pluralistic values. This is the land where Hindus and Muslims have peacefully coexisted for years. This is the land of Muslim Sufi saints like Baba Bulleh Shah, Baba Fareed and Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, who preached values of humanity, coexistence and religious tolerance which is why they are revered today, not just Muslims, but by Hindus and Sikhs of the region as well. Even when you fast forward to 1947, it is evident that the post partition era of Pakistan was also very pluralistic. Do we not know our very ...

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Will rebranding Christians make their lives any easier in Pakistan?

“Pakistan’s Christians will now be respectably called ‘Masihi.’ National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has issued orders regarding use of Masihi for Christians instead of Esaayi, in the column for Religion.” Pakistani Christians had been seeking rebranding for quite some time. “The Urdu ‘Isai’ (derived from ‘Esa’, the Arabic word for ‘Jesus’ used in the Qur’an) now carries strong overtones (of) ‘unclean’ demeaning occupations. This use of language feeds the narrative which makes Christians feel like second-class citizens in today’s society.  On October 8, 2015 in Lahore, more than 500 Muslim students took an oath that they would not call Christians ‘Esaayi,’ but would ...

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Why is FATA still administered by a typical British Raj law?

After the British took over Punjab from the Sikhs, they inherited what they called the frontier problem. The Pakhtun tribes on the periphery of Punjab had a long history of resisting authority emanating elsewhere dating back to the days of Akbar the Great. Maharaja Ranjit Singh had successfully driven back the Pakhtun tribes, but even that hard fought peace was tenuous at best, exacerbated by the fact that Ranjit Singh was a non-Muslim sovereign and the tribes were entirely Muslim.  As the power in Punjab changed hands from Sikhs to the British, the tribes once again rose in open revolt. ...

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Will we ever be able to fill in the gaps in Pakistan’s social fabric?

A recent poll done by BBC World Service, found that people are more likely than ever to identify as ‘global citizens’. According to Globescan, which conducted the poll and interviewed more than 20,000 people, over 56 per cent of Pakistanis identify as global citizens. While 27 per cent identify as Pakistanis first, and 43 per cent say their religion comes before their nationality. Is the nation failing its citizens or has globalisation made borders so meaningless that people need new political orders to anchor them? Or is it just stating the obvious; Muslims are always Muslims first, nationals second? The caliphates ...

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Is it okay if someone doesn’t want to say ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ in India?

Humans have been organising themselves in some sort of collective national structure since time immemorial. As much as many intellectuals, including Rabindranath Tagore, may argue that nationalism is a Western construct which doesn’t apply to India, or advocate the concept of a wider community of humanity, the value of the nation in the lives of its people cannot be trivialised. While these intellectual ideals are definitely worth pursuing, it is critical to factor in the harsh reality of human nature that has determined the history of humanity and shaped political boundaries. Weak states and kingdoms have been wiped out and untold sufferings have ...

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Dear Senate, instead of new legislations, how about implementing the old ones?

What are thou going to do today, my lord? I am going to protect minorities in Pakistan. And how would thou protect minorities, my lord? By making new laws! But what about the old laws, my lord? Hmm, they are old and obsolete. How would thou save the new laws, my lord, from becoming obsolete? For that I need to form a committee! Recently, a Senate committee got together to discuss a fresh piece of legislation to help protect the religious minorities in Pakistan. After the killings of 1,456 Hazaras in Balochistan over a period of seven years and other minorities in Sindh, Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), the Senate committee on human ...

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We need to stop exaggerating minority victimhood in India and Pakistan

I had written in an article on this very forum some time back that many Indians and Pakistanis validate their deep-rooted nationalist prejudices by exaggerating the problems of the religious minorities on the other side of the border. As an Indian, I have written articles informing my fellow countrymen that Pakistan has had a Christian Chief Justice, Justice Cornelius, and he remains one of their most respected judges till date, and the tiny Zoroastrian community in Pakistan, like its Indian counterpart, has produced many remarkable personalities, including prominent judges. These include Justice Dorab Patel, who has also served as chief justice, and Justice Rustam S Sidhwa who ...

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Playing god in the land of the pure

People everywhere look for answers in stark black and white, and love the comfort that gives them the ability to use it as a club against others. For some reason, people keep recreating the very issues in their religions that the founders of those religions sought to eradicate. True spirituality should bring complete humbleness and love. What is common to all of us is how we struggle for an authentic faith without taking refuge in the absolute; that, to my mind, is the classic source of apostasy. There is nothing I ever read about Islam that didn’t pertain equally to other religions’ ...

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Can the Pakistani education system stop catering to political agendas please?

The issue of school curriculum has been under discussion in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) for some time now. The 18th Amendment devolved the education sector to the provinces but that has yet to bear fruit, since the leaders who have decided to take up the responsibility of planning a ‘better’ future for the youth of K-P still need to achieve some constructive results. Playing its ‘due’ role, the coalition government in the province wants to change what is being taught to children at schools. The changes desired are within the lines of ‘religious’ and ‘national’ teachings, according to the members. They want chapters on national heroes like Bacha Khan ...

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