Afghanistan: Dwindling Sikh Community Struggles to Endure In Kabul

January 12, 2010

Author: Elissa Bogos

Source: Eurasia Insight

For many years, Sikhs were a prominent part of Kabul’s commercial scene, occupying prominent positions as traders, entrepreneurs, and, later, currency exchange specialists. But in today’s Afghanistan, many Sikhs find themselves marginalized and struggling to maintain their distinct cultural profile in Kabul.

Before more than three decades of nearly uninterrupted strife began with the 1979 Soviet invasion, an estimated 200,000 Sikhs lived in Afghanistan, many of them concentrated in the capital. Although Sikhs escaped the level of violence experienced by Hazaras during the Taliban era, many Sikhs nevertheless came to feel unwelcome and left the country. According to one estimate, only 170 Sikh families now remain in Afghanistan.

Senator Avtar Singh, the only Sikh in Afghanistan’s parliament, says that trying to raise awareness about the problems facing the country’s Sikh community is difficullt.