Islamabad, April 17: Handful of Sikhs living under fear and agony in Pakistan want improved security for them. Pakistani Sikhs mainly live in restive northwest region of the country.
Sikh pilgrims from across the world thronged to Panja Sahib gurdwara in Hasanabdal near capital Islamabad, where Guru Nanak, the founder of the religion, is said to have imprinted his hand.
Sikhs from India, Britain and Middle East arrived Panja Sahib on the occasion of Baisakhi to take a holy dip. But Sikhs in Pakistan lacked enthusiasm for the festival as they live under fear of losing their near and dear ones in target killings, Dawn online reported.
Sikhs are known for their honesty in the country. But their peace was broken in the second half of last year with a spate of killings targeting Sikh traders and many are now considering leaving.
Read More: Sikh man beaten up in Birmingham
Police have failed to get any lead in the killings of Sikhs.
Those fears were evident at the Panja Sahib gurdwara where security was tightened as over 1,000 police were deployed to protect 5,000 worshippers who had come to offer prayers over the course of this week's three-day Baisakhi festival marking the Sikh new year.
"We want the government to either improve security for us or else shift us elsewhere, this is our appeal," Harcharan Singh, a Peshawar trader was quoted as saying.
Around 20,000 Sikhs live in the areas hit by an Islamist insurgency for more than a decade. Many of them have even been forced to leave their homes and settled in Peshawar. Most of them are working as traders.
The 500-year-old religion was founded in what is now part of Pakistan. Most Sikhs left Pakistan for India after both countries gained independence from Britain in 1947.