New Delhi, July 2: A Sikh MP to be was among the 19 killed in the blast at Afghanistan's eastern city of Jalalabad. A suicide bomber targeted a convoy of Sikhs and Hindus who were on their way to meet with Afghanistan President, Ashraf Ghani. 17 out of 19 killed in the blast belonged to the Sikh and Hindu community.
The incident brings us back to the problem of ethnic cleansing of Sikhs and Hindus by the Pakistan's ISI. Intelligence officials say that the incident at Jalalabad is clearly an act by the ISI aimed at targeting Sikhs and Hindus.
Among those killed in Sunday's blast was Avtar Singh Khalsa, a Sikh leader who was set to contest in the Parliamentary elections slated for October. Khalsa would have been elected unopposed to the Lower House as the seat he was planning to contest was apportioned to the minority by a Presidential decree in 2016.
In December 2017, Farid Chand, who represents the Sikh community in the Hangu district had complained to the Deputy Commissioner that the Assistant Commissioner Yaqoob Khan was forcing the Sikhs to convert to Islam.
The complaint read, "We the residents of Doaba area are being tortured religiously. The Constitution empowers us to defend our religious beliefs against anyone and we want you to call (the assistant commissioner of) Tall, Yaqoob Khan, and inquire (about) the issue."
At the time of partition in 1947, Pakistan's population comprised 23 per cent of non-Muslims. The figure today has drastically dropped to a mere 3 per cent. Among those targeted relentlessly at the behest of the ISI have been the Hindus, Sikhs and Christians.
While those who have refused to convert to Islam have been mercilessly killed, there have been several reports of graveyards of the minorities in Pakistan being dug up or vandalised.
In the provinces of Balochistan and Sindh, the primary targets have been the well to do Hindus, who have either been abducted or killed. Reports of Hindus and Sikhs being burnt outside the police stations have been reported in the past and in none of the cases has the administration made any attempt to identify the killers.
An islamic State:
Pakistan was originally conceived with the idea of providing a home for the South Asian Muslims. However over the years, with the mad mullahs becoming powerful and the ISI gaining significant control over the country, Pakistan has gradually, but steadily emerged as an Islamic State.
The idea is to make it a 100 per cent Muslim state and in a bid to do so, the ISI wants to wipe out all non-Muslims. The regime is so rigid that the the Ahmadis were declared as non-Muslims by the writ of the state.
If one looks at the issue closely, it becomes clear that the Pakistan regime continues to be heavily influenced by Abul Ala Maududi, the founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami. According to him, the constitution of Pakistan had to be based on the assumption that sovereignty rested with Allah.
The Objective Resolution of 1949 which was passed by the Pakistan Constituent Assembly read:
- Sovereignty belongs to Allah alone but He has delegated it to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him as a sacred trust.
- The State shall exercise its powers and authority through the chosen representatives of the people.
- The principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice, as enunciated by Islam, shall be fully observed.
- Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings of Islam as set out in the Quran and Sunnah.
- Adequate provision shall be made for the minorities to freely profess and practice their religions and develop their cultures.
- Pakistan shall be a federation.
- Fundamental rights shall be guaranteed.
- The judiciary shall be independent.
Spreading their tentacles to Afghanistan:
In Afghanistan there are around 8,000 Sikhs. They are Afghan nationals who normally speak Pashto, but also converse in Hindu, Punjabi or Dari. Back in the 1980s, there were around 20,000 Sikhs in Kabul, but many fled due to the civil war in 1992.
During that war, specific attempts were made to eliminate the Sikhs. Most of the Gurudwaras were destroyed. Only the Gurudwara Karte Parwan remains as of today.
The rise of the Taliban and the backing of the ISI ensured that the Sikhs lived in fear. The local Muslims raised objections to the fact that the Sikhs would cremate the dead. In 2003, the Sikhs complained to the then Karzai government that they were not being allowed to cremate the dead. They had to send the body of a lady to Pakistan so that it could be cremated.
The Karzai administration in a bid to give the Sikhs representation had issued a legislative decree reserving a seat in the National Assembly of Afghanistan for either a member of the Sikh or Hindu community.
Indian officials say that the ethnic cleansing of Sikhs in Afghanistan has been taking place for long and is very much on the lines of what is taking place in Pakistan. Before the 1990s there were around 50,000 Sikhs in Afghanistan. However by 2013, the number came down to 3,000. Living in fear and with constant threats of death if they failed to convert, many families moved out of Afghanistan and settled in India, Northern America, United Kingdom and Europe.
The targeting of Khalsa in the Jalalabad blasts is yet another attempt by the ISI to ensure that the community is wiped out. It is also a clear message to both the Hindu and Sikh community in Afghanistan that they would be killed if they tried to send their representative to the Afghan Parliament.