Sikh24.com – Special Sikh school to come up at Peshawar

Sikh24 Editors

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 27 June 2019. On the demand of Sikhs living in Peshawar, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s state government is going to open a community based school for the Sikhs in Peshawar. On June 24, the Auqaf, Hajj, Religious and Minority Affairs Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa wrote a letter to the Executive Engineer to submit Detailed Cost Estimate of this project within two weeks.

Available information reveals that the Auqaf, Hajj, Religious and Minority Affairs Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has reserved Rupees 20 million as a proposed cost of this project.

It is learnt that the concerned department has reserved Rupees 55 million in this year’s annual budget for the welfare of minorities living in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Special Sikh School to Come Up at Peshawar

The Express Tribune – Tribal area Sikhs angry at being ignored for tickets in election

Ahtesham Khan

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 31 May 2019. Even though Sikhs make up a majority of the minority communities in the seven newly merged districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), they seem to have been ignored by all political parties when awarding tickets on reserved seats for minorities in the upcoming provincial assembly elections.

This has irked the resident Sikh community, who number more than 45,000 but are predominantly concentrated in three tribal districts including Khyber, Orakzai and Kurram.

Baba Gurpal Singh, who had unsuccessfully applied for a ticket with the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), told The Express Tribune that even though he had been associated with the party since 2013.

He added that despite assurances and promises from the party leadership, a person who had joined the party just two months ago had been awarded a ticket while he had been ignored.

The provincial assembly already has a Kailashi and a Hindu on the minority seats in the provincial assembly.

“We do appreciate the efforts of all political parties [in nominating minority members], but despite the assurances of the PTI, they have awarded their sole seat from the tribal areas to a Christian, while we are ignored,” Singh complained.

“The community has been irked by the dealing of PTI, we are going to register our reservations with K-P Governor Shah Farman, Federal Minorities Minister Noorul Haq Qadri and K-P Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and will demand that the party revisit their decisions,” Singh said.

PTI has awarded the ticket to Wilson Wazir, who only recently joined the party.

The PTI and the Sikh community have a particularly complicated history. In the May 2013 elections, the PTI had handed a ticket to Sardar Soran Singh of Buner. He went on to become the provincial minister for minorities in the cabinet led by Pervez Khattak.

However, he was assassinated near his house in April 2016 by fellow Sikh Baldev Kumar. Kumar was a political rival of the former minorities minister and was first in line to take up Singh’s seat.

PTI announces ticket holders

The PTI has issued a list of its 16 ticket holders for the upcoming provincial assembly elections in the newly merged tribal areas.

According to PTI’s Central Media Department, Anwar Zeb Khan has been handed a PTI ticket for PK-100 Bajuar-I, Ajmal Khan has been given a ticket for PK-101 Bajuar-II, Hamidur Rehman for PK-102 Bajaur-III, Rahim Shah for PK-1-3 Mohmand-I, Muhammad Israr for PK-104 Mohmand-II, Shahid Hussain for PK-105 Khyber-I, Amir Khan Afridi for PK-106 Khyber-II, Muhammad Zubair for PK-107 Khyber-III, Shahid Khan for PK-108 Kurram-I, Syed Iqbal Mian for PK-109 Kurram-II, Shoaib Hassan for PK-110 Orakzai, Mohammad Iqbal Khan for PK-111 North Waziristan-I, Aurang Zaib Khan PK-112 North Waziristan-II, Afsar Khan PK-113 South Waziristan-I, Naseerullah Khan PK-114 South Waziristan-II and Abidur Rehman Pk-115 for the frontier regions.

Further, all other candidates have been directed to immediately withdraw in favour of the candidates nominated by the party. The candidates were selected by a three-member Parliamentary Board comprising Qadri, K-P Chief Minister Mehmood and PTI Secretary General Irshad Dad.

With additional input from Riswan Ghilzai in Islamabad

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1983852/1-tribal-area-sikhs-angry-ignored-tickets-election/

The News – No roadside Iftar by Sikhs in Peshawar this year

Javed Aziz Khan

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 12 May 2019. As different organisations and individuals continue to arrange food and drinks for fasting Muslims in the provincial capital and elsewhere, the Peshawarites are missing the traditional dastarkhwan by Sikh community members who had been hosting Iftar for the faithful throughout Ramazan for the last many years.

For the first time in many years, the Sikh community members in Peshawar are not hosting roadside Iftar dinner for Muslims. Instead, they provided ration to orphanages and charities.

“This time we are not arranging the roadside Iftars but our members have provided ration to different charity organizations,” Baba Gurpal Singh, a leader of the Sikh community, told The News. He added that they were asked not to arrange these “Iftar dastarkhwans” due to certain threats.

He reminded that Sadar Charanjeet Singh, who was killed last year was one of the main people behind arranging Iftar dinners. “However, we will continue to serve humanity in whatever way we can to spread love and peace,” added Baba Gurpal Singh.

The members of the Sikh community had been serving food, chilled drinks and snacks to hundreds of Muslims at the roadside “dastarkhwans” in different parts of Peshawar for the last many years. The roadside meals used to be arranged for almost the whole holy month. Apart from labourers and other needy people, passersby used to get food at these dastarkhwans.

The tradition was appreciated all over the country and in many parts of the world as an excellent gesture of interfaith harmony. The pictures of young and old Sikhs welcoming everyone arriving at Iftar dastarkhwan with a smile and serving them with a glass of chilled lassi, sharbat, fruit and cooked food were posted in the mainstream and social media all over the world.

Muslims and Sikhs enjoy cordial relations in Peshawar and in many other cities of the country for decades.

Khurshid Khan, a senior lawyer from Peshawar, used to visit the places of worship of Sikhs in past years to clean their shoes and place them in the racks to promote interfaith harmony. His gesture was widely lauded.

With the start of the holy month, a number of people have started arranging roadside Iftar in Peshawar and all over the country where passersby, labourers and others come in the evening to have drinks and food to break their fast.

Many young men have arranged Iftars in Hayatabad, University Road, Saddar Bazaar, Bara Road, Kohat Road, Charsadda Road, Ring Road GT Road, inner city and other places where thousands of people are provided free food and drinks daily.

A non-governmental organization, Darmaan provided food to around 500 people daily.

“Darmaan was founded five years ago from a single dastarkhwan which turned into a concept and idea for many youth across Pakistan.

Darmaan has served over 500,000 people in the past five years, encouraging the concept of dastarkhwan and mobile food delivery in hospitals, jails and at footpaths,” Saud Shah Roghani, a young man running Darmaan, told The News. He said the plan is to spread the dastarkhwan to many other cities of the country in the coming days.

Serve Mankind, a group of youth led by Asad Ali Lodhi, the main person behind the idea of Wall of Kindness, also arranges food for hundreds of people in Hayatabad and other parts of the provincial capital daily.

“Serve Mankind Dastarkhwan is organized on a daily basis. Now everyone can be part of this noble campaign where you can bring your meal for those who need it the most and volunteer at dastarkhwan,” said Asad Ali Lodhi.

The youth in Peshawar introduced a number of novel ideas in recent years to serve the needy. They introduced Wall of Kindness to provide warm clothes and launched Happiness Box and Korba refrigerator to provide food to labourers and other deserving people.

Many of these initiatives, however, could not be continued for long due to different reasons. “The ideas like Korba, Happiness Box and more need to continue throughout the year to provide food to the needy people,” commented a Peshawar resident Imtiaz Ahmad.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/470371-no-roadside-iftar-by-sikhs-in-peshawar-this-year

Dawn – Following rumours, refusals to vaccinate children against polio rise by 85pc in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 26 April 2019. Instances of parents’ refusal to allow health workers to administer anti-polio drops to their children rose by 85 per cent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after rumours pertaining to the authenticity of the vaccine provoked hysteria across the province, Dr Ejaz, an official of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) for polio said on Friday.

Across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, more than 700,000 families refused to vaccinate children, whereas in the last anti-polio drive, which was held last month, the number of refusal cases was 57,000, Dr Ejaz said. He attributed the alarming increase in the number of refusal cases to rumours spread against the vaccine that is administered to prevent the virus.

In Peshawar alone, the number of refusal cases rose by 79pc as about 164,000 out of 800,000 families refused to allow health workers to administer anti-polio drops to their children, he said. Due to prevailing rumours against the vaccine, anti-polio campaign had to be postponed in 24 union councils of Peshawar.

“This is the highest number of refusal cases reported in an anti-polio campaign,” Dr Ejaz said.

“The propaganda against anti-polio vaccines created panic in Peshawar and other districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and has badly affected the efforts of the government to eradicate polio,” he said, adding that the EOC will come up with a new strategy before initiating another anti-polio campaign, which will be held in June.

He regretted that the rumours have exposed children to the risk of becoming victims of the crippling polio virus.

Dr Ejaz said that the EOC will take local and religious leaders, as well as members of the civil society, on board in order to allay the fear and misconceptions of parents regarding the vaccine.

Panic over rumours against anti-polio vaccine

Panic spread across Peshawar earlier this week after reports that 75 students at a school in Badhber, complaining of headaches, nausea and abdominal pain allegedly after being administered the anti-polio vaccine, were admitted to Hayatabad Medical Complex. Shortly after, doctors began releasing them, saying they were in stable condition.

Panicked parents continued taking their children to hospitals for checkups till late at night, some 300 children visited Lady Reading Hospital, and mosques added further grist to the rumours by issuing intermittent warnings over their loudspeakers to not get children vaccinated, and that those who had must reach hospitals to avoid a reaction.

Most children were released after treatment, health workers said. The doctors at LRH said it was psychological, whatever it was that was impacting the children. In Charsadda, 800 children were hospitalised.

Family members and area residents resorted to agitation in protest against the incident. They broke the doors and windows of a hospital during their protest, set a Basic Health Unit in the area on fire and held polio workers hostage for some time.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Saddar Sahibzada Sajjad told DawnNewsTV that a first information report (FIR) had been registered at the Badhber police station against identified individuals for setting fire to a Basic Health Unit and causing widespread panic by rumour-mongering.

Addressing the hysteria across the province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Health Minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan held a press conference to debunk the rumours about the vaccine. “We have an inquiry report and the only thing it points towards is panic.

The school from where it all started, there should be an investigation against them. These two, three schools had also refused the anti-polio campaign earlier. They did not want drops administered to their students,” he claimed.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1478555/following-rumours-refusals-to-vaccinate-children-against-polio-rise-by-85pc-in-kp

Dawn – Peshawar police arrest man alleging anti-polio vaccines cause children to faint, die

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 23 April 2019. Police in Peshawar arrested a man on Tuesday after he allegedly spread misinformation about the anti-polio vaccine in a series of videos that went viral on social media, a day after hundreds of children in different cities complained of illness and were admitted to hospitals in the midst of a province-wide anti-polio drive.

Videos circulating on Twitter show a resident of Peshawar’s Mashokhel area, Nazar Muhammad, in Hayatabad Medical Complex, where children from a school in Badhber were admitted yesterday with complaints of illness following administration of the anti-polio vaccine.

In the video, Nazar alleges that administration of the vaccine causes children to fall unconscious. Then he turns to a group of children standing next to him and orders them to “fall asleep”. They then lie down on the hospital bed behind them as if they were unconscious.

When a boy gets up, Nazar tells him to “fall asleep” again, after which he lies down on the bed again.

In another video, Nazar is speaking to reporters outside, surrounded by a crowd of men. He alleges that some children in his video died after being administered the vaccine.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa tweeted the videos with the caption: “EXPOSED: Watch how young innocent kids were made to lay down in hospital beds and pretend they’re suffering due to polio vaccination, to give a wrong message to masses regarding the polio campaign.”

KP and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas have long seen vaccine refusal cases. According to provincial officials and anti-polio campaign documents, suspicion about the vaccine stems from misconceptions about the oral polio vaccine (OPV) which have persisted since 2004, when obscurantist elements and militants in the area spread rumours that certain hormones were deliberately added to the OPV to make Muslim children sterile.

Panic over anti-polio drive

Panic spread across Peshawar yesterday after reports that 75 students at a school in Badhber, complaining of headaches, nausea and abdominal pain allegedly after being administered the anti-polio vaccine, were admitted to Hayatabad Medical Complex. Shortly after, doctors began releasing them, saying they were in stable condition.

Family members and area residents resorted to agitation in protest against the incident. They broke the doors and windows of a hospital during their protest, set a Basic Health Unit in the area on fire and held polio workers hostage for some time.

Panicked parents continued taking their children to hospitals for checkups till late at night, some 300 children visited Lady Reading Hospital, and mosques added further grist to the rumours by issuing intermittent warnings over their loudspeakers to not get children vaccinated, and that those who had must reach hospitals to avoid a reaction.

Most children were released after treatment, health workers said. The doctors at LRH said it was psychological whatever it was that was impacting the children. In Charsadda 800 children were hospitalised.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Saddar Sahibzada Sajjad told DawnNewsTV that a first information report (FIR) had been registered at the Badhber police station against identified individuals for setting fire to a Basic Health Unit and causing widespread panic by rumour-mongering.

DSP Sajjad confirmed Nazar Muhammad’s arrest and said that further arrests would be made using videos of the protests and vandalism.

Police obtained one-day remand for Nazar from the court today.

KP government to probe incident

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan held a press conference in Peshawar last night to debunk the rumours about the vaccine. “We have an inquiry report and the only thing it points towards is panic.

The school from where it all started, there should be an investigation against them. These two, three schools had also refused the anti-polio campaign earlier. They did not want drops administered to their students,” he claimed.

His claim was echoed by Chief Police Officer Qazi Jalilur Rehman, who had said the issue of alleged reaction from polio vaccines emerged from one school.

The health minister added that a preliminary investigation had revealed there was no issue of the expiry of vaccines. “We are also investigating a batch of vaccines which we procured from an Indonesia-based manufacturing firm.

The matter was blown by media out of proportions which swelled to a big crisis but in reality there is nothing to worry as all the children are safe,” he said.

The Emergency Operation Centre of KP has formed a committee under the additional deputy commissioner to investigate the issue and submit its findings in 48 hours.

Prime Minister’s Focal Person Babar Bin Atta had said that action would be taken against those who created the rumours to damage the polio vaccination campaign.

“Panic was created to jeopardise polio vaccination as part of a campaign and to put our children at risk of diseases. It is a criminal act and perpetrators will be held accountable. There were no instances of diarrhoea or skin rashes on affected children,” he explained.

He pledged that the vaccination drive would continue till polio was completely eradicated from the country. “The WHO-approved OPV used for eradication of poliovirus worldwide is safe for children and parents must have it administered to their children.”

https://www.dawn.com/news/1477890/peshawar-police-arrest-man-alleging-anti-polio-vaccines-cause-children-to-faint-die

Dawn – Domestic violence

Editorial, 13 February 2019. Once again, religious parties are creating hurdles in the passing of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Domestic Violence against Women (Prevention and Protection) Bill.

The bill was introduced in the provincial assembly early this week after being approved by the provincial cabinet in 2018.

The stated purpose of the bill is to prevent domestic violence against women and to protect them from sexual, psychological and economic abuse. If passed, women from KP or their guardians can file complaints to 10-member committees headed by district deputy commissioners, which will provide assistance to them.

Any person found guilty of abuse would be imprisoned for up to three months or fined up to Rs30,000 (or both) under the Pakistan Penal Code.

Undoubtedly, this will be a welcome move for the women of KP who deserve just as much security as their counterparts in other areas of the country. But whenever such laws are discussed, opposition voices are raised using the rhetoric of ‘culture’ and ‘family’.

It was only last month that KP appointed its first provincial ombudsperson for sexual harassment, after much resistance from certain quarters.

In 2016, Punjab passed the Protection of Women Against Violence Bill, 2015. Over the years, Punjab has had the most instances of violence against women, or at least the most reported.

The law offers protection to women against a range of abhorrent crimes: domestic violence, emotional, economic and psychological abuse and cyber crime. Additionally, it provides protection, residence and/or monetary order in light of such offences.

Prior to this, Sindh had passed the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2013, and Balochistan passed the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2014. While these laws may have their deficiencies and loopholes, and are open to criticism and thus improvement, they are absolutely vital in recognising that violence against women is a crime in the eyes of the state.

Violence is another form of control, and there is no end to the many ways society attempts to ‘control’ women through judgement or coercion.

Inherent to these notions of control are knee-jerk reactions and deep-seated fears of women gaining independence, and men subsequently losing their power over them, which somehow translates into the breaking up of families for some. This is simply untrue.

And if families are indeed being kept together through fear and violence, that is not a healthy environment for any member of the unit to be in, in the first place, least of all the most vulnerable member, who has to suffer just to fulfil someone else’s abstract ideals.

Such regressive attitudes infantalise adult women by casting doubt on their decision-making faculties, and are used as a tool to justify oppression.

All women citizens deserve a life free of intimidation, harassment and abuse both within and outside their homes. Domestic violence is not to be taken lightly.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1463533/domestic-violence

The Tribune – Pakistan provincial government to turn Hari Singh Nalwa fort into museum

The fort in Haripur district was named after Hari Singh Nalwa, the commander-in-chief of the Sikh Khalsa Army, the army of the Sikh Empire.

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 25 January 2019. The government in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has decided to convert a historic fort built by a Sikh commander into a museum.

The fort in Haripur district was named after Hari Singh Nalwa, the commander-in-chief of the Sikh Khalsa Army, the army of the Sikh Empire.

The fort was built by Nalwa in 1822 over an area of 35,420 square feet.

Nalwa was Commander-in-Chief of the Sikh Khalsa Army, the army of the Sikh Empire. The archaeology department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa sent a note to Chief Minister Mehmood Khan for taking control of the fort and its opening for the tourists.

The Haripur district administration has expressed readiness to hand over the fort to the archaeology department.

The Britishers also carried out some construction work in the fort.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/pakistan-provincial-govt-to-turn-hari-singh-nalwa-fort-into-museum/719074.html

The News – Issuance of ticket for not wearing helmet

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 23 January 2019. The Traffic Police authorities on Tuesday apologised to the Sikh community after an officer mistakenly issued a ticket to a Sikh bike-rider for not wearing helmet.

An official of the Traffic Police in Peshawar said all the wardens have been directed not to issue tickets to Sikhs for not wearing helmets. Similar orders were issued a few months back. However, a traffic officer Fayyaz issued a ticket to one Manmeet Singh on Tuesday.

The elders of the Sikh community immediately took up the issue with the Traffic Police bosses who tendered an apology. They directed the wardens not to issue tickets to Sikhs as they have been exempted from wearing helmets due to religious reasons.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/422329-issuance-of-ticket-for-not-wearing-helmet

Dawn – Sikhs celebrate Guru Gobind’s birth anniversary

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 14 January 2019. The 352nd birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh was celebrated here on Sunday amid tight security and people from various minority groups participated in the event.

The celebrations in connection with the birth anniversary had commenced on Friday and concluded in Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh at Mohallah Jogan Shah Qissa Khwani, Peshawar, on Sunday.

According to a statement, the three-day event was organised by the Waqf, Religious and Minority Affairs Department, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to show harmony and celebrate inclusiveness.

Waqf secretary says budget allocated for religious festivals of minorities

On the first day, a procession was held which was marked by rendering of hymns by Sikh community, including men and women. Over 5,000 Sikh devotees from across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa took part in the procession and then other rituals followed by Langar.

Adequate measures were put in place by the police department to ensure full security for smooth celebration of the event.

The chief guests included MPAs Ravi Kumar and Wazirzada and Sikh community leader Ranjeet Singh besides some government officials. The major attraction of the procession was the display of ‘Gatka,’ a famous Sikh martial art and other sword exercises.

On this occasion, MPA Ravi Kumar paid tribute to the slain Soran Singh and said that his services as adviser to the chief minister and his personal efforts for the communities would always be remembered.

He also said that such events would build understanding of traditions and beliefs of minorities and people here had shown a sign of interfaith harmony. In response to the demand of Sikh community, he said that Shamshan Ghat would soon be set up.

In this regard, MPA Wazirzada said that celebration of minorities’ events would help spread love and peace. He maintained that the minorities were allowed to practice their religion freely.

Waqf department secretary Hidayat Jan stated that they had allocated budget for religious festivals of minorities of KP. Guru Gobind Singh was the 10th Sikh Guru, a spiritual master and philosopher.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1457384/sikhs-celebrate-guru-gobinds-birth-anniversary

Sikh24.com – Radesh Singh Tony forced to quit Peshawar after getting attacked twice

Sikh24 Editors

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 06 January 2019. Radesh Singh Tony, the serving president of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Pakistan Minorities’ Alliance, has been reportedly forced to leave his city Peshawar after getting attacked by two unidentified assailants around two weeks ago.

It is learnt that he got attacked twice by two unidentified assailants during the past days in Peshawar.

Sharing the development with media, Radesh Singh Tony informed that two unidentified assailants slapped him twice in the local market and threatened him around 15 days ago. “In fear, I deactivated my twitter account and moved to Lahore but here I am also receiving threats continuously” he added.

Tony claimed that the reins of Pakistan have gone in wrong hands and only the Almighty can save his country.

It may be recalled here that S. Radesh Singh Tony had unsuccessfully contested the election from Peshawar last year.

https://www.sikh24.com/2019/01/06/radesh-singh-tony-forced-to-quit-peshawar-after-getting-attacked-twice/#.XDNwD817nIU