Source : ECSPE
We are still in grief over the deadly bomb blast that occurred on Easter (March 28, 2016) in Lahore’s Gulshan Iqbal Park. The primary target of this bomb blast was Christians who were celebrating Easter in the park. Christians are a religious minority in Pakistan. And now, another attack has occurred on the Sikh community, which is also a religious minority in Pakistan.
Dr. Sardar Soran Singh was a patriotic Pakistani. He was a doctor by profession, a politician, an activist, a member of the Provincial Assembly, and a Special Assistant on Minority Affairs in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, representing a minority reserved seat. He was gunned down in Buner District (KPK) on Friday, April 22, 2016.
This brutal murder is another incident that highlights the lack of safety for minorities in Pakistan. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has claimed responsibility for both the Easter bombing and Dr. Singh’s murder.
Dr. Singh was a legislator from the currently ruling government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He had served with Jamaat-e-Islami for many years before joining Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in 2011, the political party led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan.
In 2015, Dr. Singh reopened the Ancient Jugiwara Gurdwara in the Hastnagri locality in KPK, which had been closed since 1942 due to disputes between Muslims and Sikhs. Sikhs make up less than one percent of Pakistan’s 190 million population.
This brutal murder is another reminder that minorities in Pakistan are not safe. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has claimed responsibility for both the Easter bombing and Dr. Sardar Soran Singh’s murder.
“Isn’t it surprising that someone unknown murdered Dr. Singh in his native town, where he grew up?”
Thousands of Hindus and Sikhs migrated or were forced to leave Pakistan to safeguard their properties during the Indo-Pak partition. However, Dr. Singh’s family chose to continue living in Pakistan.
Targeted killings, kidnappings, ransom, and forced conversions to Islam are common occurrences in Pakistan among minorities. It is an alarming situation for Pakistan and any state when minorities are murdered because of their religious faith. The conditions are worsening, and nobody knows what will happen next. Minorities are constantly at risk of threats. Sikhs are particularly vulnerable because they can be easily distinguished by their turbans. While they may not be able to name the culprits, these attacks are clearly attempts to further destabilize Pakistan and intimidate the Sikh community.
Pakistan does not have a good track record of protecting minorities. In March 2011, the Federal Minorities Minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, was shot in the capital city of Islamabad over blasphemy allegations.
Pakistan is one of the worst countries when it comes to religious intolerance, and this has been witnessed in recent years. There is a lack of proper education in public schools and madrasas, and Pakistani government textbooks often promote discrimination against Christians and other minorities.
In a report issued by Minority Rights Group International (MRG) in 2014, Pakistan was declared one of the most dangerous countries in the world for religious minorities. The report highlighted militant groups like Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SPP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TPP) that attack, threaten, and abduct minorities.
We ask the Pakistani government: How long must minorities continue to sacrifice? How long must Christians suffer in Pakistan? The Pakistani government should take these issues seriously and increase protections for all citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs.