Sikhs in Pakistan not forced to convert to Islam: Govt

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Sikhs in Pakistan
Sikhs in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Photo courtesy Express Tribune
News East West
Sikhs in Pakistan are not being forced to convert to Islam, says the country’s Foreign Office.

The Foreign Office has denied reports in the media that Sikhs in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province were being forced to convert to Islam.

Reports earlier this week said that a senior official was forcing members of the Sikh community of Hangu district of the frontier province to convert to Islam.

“Misinformation is being spread about an incident in Hangu,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal.

He said a row between the Sikhs and the district official of Hangu was distorted, adding that the official has been suspended.

The authorities have also order an investigation into the matter, the Pakistani official said, adding that Pakistan was committed to protecting the rights of all minorities.

The Pakistani official response came after Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said India will take up the issue of Sikhs in Pakistan with Islamabad.

“We will take this up at the highest level with Government of Pakistan. Sikh community in Hangu being forced to convert,” the minister had tweeted on Tuesday.

As per reports, Sikh leaders from Hangu district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province filed a complaint against Assistant Commissioner Tehsil Tall Yaqoob Khan for allegedly forcing them to convert to Islam.

In their complaint with Deputy Commissioner Hangu Shahid Mehmood, the Sikh community said, “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 AC Tall Yaqoob Khan and inquire the issue.”

Express Tribune quoted Sikh leader Farid Chand Singh as saying that the community members have been living in the area since 1901 and were never offended by anyone, specifically for religious believes rather lived all their lives peacefully with Muslims.

“Had it been from someone ordinary, it would have never been felt so offending but when you hear such things from a government official, it becomes something really serious,” Singh was quoted as saying by the paper.

Sikhs in Pakistan are concentrated mostly in the Nankana Sahib area and some areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

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