Sikhs Continue to Face Conflict At the Hands Of the Taliban

June 10, 2009

Author: Aftab Mughal

Source: The Sikh Times

Sikhs and other non-Muslims living in Pakistan are facing huge challenges at the hands of the Taliban,

The Bara-based Lashkar-e-Islam (LI, an Islamic militant group) has imposed jizya, an Islamic tax, on the non-Muslim communities, including Sikhs, Hindus and Christians living in the Khyber Agency, a tribal region of North West Frontier Post (NWFP) near Afghanistan’s border and which is substantially under the control of militants.

“Sources said LI had asked the non-Muslim communities in Bara, Chora, Karamna, Bazaar Zakhakhel and Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency to pay jizya or leave the agency,” reported The News on June 3. The sources said the warning came from LI on May 31 following which the community agreed to pay the tax instead of leaving the area, where they have been living for decades.

The minority communities had many meetings with the local militant group, but LI was not ready to give any concessions to the minority community. They were told that they are not Muslim so they have to pay jizya.

The media reports say that only women, children and handicapped persons are exempt from paying the tax, while other members of the communities would be bound to pay Rs1,000 (US$12.50) per head annually.

Jizya is an Islamic tax which traditionally has been imposed by Islamic states on their non-Muslim subjects. Though Pakistan is an Islamic state, the state has never imposed jizya on its religious minorities. Some radical Muslim religious leaders have been demanded it, but without broad public support.