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