Sikh Leaders In America Press President Obama to Convey Concerns About the Plight Of Sikhs In Pakistan to President Zardari

May 6, 2009

Author: Amrit Kaur

Source: SikhNet

Dr. Rajwant Singh, Chairman of Sikh Council on Religion and Education and Amrit Kaur, Secretary of Guru Gobind Singh Foundation, both based in Washington, have communicated in a letter to President Barack Obama, saying:

“We bring before you our deepest concern about the safety of lives and property of Sikhs in Pakistan. Recently their religious freedom has been threatened and various happenings around them are troublesome. They are being harassed and their property damaged and plundered by Taliban. This barbaric act of Taliban has been in practice since mid-April and the Pakistan Government’s reaction has been too little too late.”

President Obama is meeting President Zardari of Pakistan today at the White House. There are 500,000 Sikhs in the United States. Sikh Leaders have also conveyed their concerns to the White House officials. They plan to meet officials at NSC, the State Department and congressional leaders.

The letter also said, “The Pakistan government has already rejected Indian concerns about the plight of Sikhs living in the Pakistan tribal area, saying the issue was being over exaggerated. However, the fact is that so many Sikh families have been displaced by the Taliban militants unfortunately, this number keeps growing by the hour.

Majority of the displaced families of the Orakzai agency were living in Peer Baba, Daggar, Dewana Baba, Jhangi, Gogga, Sawari, Changli and Ghourgohsti areas. They are hoping to return to their homes after the situation there improves.

Pakistani Shrines Evacuee Trust Property Board has made some arrangements to assist the displaced Sikh families but the efforts are minute. Money offered to them is not adequate.

It is important that Pakistan Government reimburse them for any Jazia tax they might have paid and compensate them for their loss of property. Until peace and stability prevails in the area they need to be given a safe passage to protective areas. They should get adequate food and shelter. Its’ failure to do so would simply indicate failure of legitimate Pakistani government. We urge you to please expedite your efforts in guaranteeing protection to the victims of Taliban carnage.

It is the primary duty of the Pakistan government to intervene on behalf of the Sikhs and other minorities and protect them from any atrocities committed by Taliban or any other group. We have not heard President of Pakistan come out clearly on national media to condemn these outrageous acts of the Taliban. Taliban demand of Jazia is appalling and more outrageous than this is Government‘s silent treatment.

We have received number of calls and emails from Sikhs all across America expressing their outrage about the situation in Pakistan. As American citizens, we request you to express our sentiments to President Zardari.

It is important that U.S. government convey our deepest concerns to the Pakistan Government. This issue cannot be comprised at any cost and we must ask for security and well being of all communities.