Pakistan excludes Sikhs from census, community plans protest

Peshawar, March 18: Angry over their exclusion from the census, the Sikh community of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) is preparing to stage a protest in the federal capital with protests already under way in various districts of the province.

“Every faith is mentioned in the census form except Sikhism, which is a religion identified all over the world. But sadly our government has forgotten us in the most important national event that can change the fate of every Pakistani,” The Express Tribune cited K-P’s Pakistan Minorities’ Alliance president Radesh Singh Tony as saying.

“If the government can consider Hinduism, Christianity and other religions, then they could have also added Sikhism but they did not,” he challenged.

“It is a conspiracy to produce a rift between the Sikh community and the government of Pakistan. We will use our right to protest against this act of the government for not giving importance to a significant population in the census that can affect our future. We will boycott the census if the government does nothing to protect our rights to be counted as equal citizens,” he added.

Another member of the Sikh community, Harmeet Singh, said the origin of Sikhism is in Pakistan as Guru Nanak was born here in Punjab.

Sikhs from all over the world visit their holy places in this country but not mentioning our religion in the religious column of the census form is unjust with thousands of Sikhs living in Pakistan, he added.

The census exercise is taking place after a delay of nine years, as the last population census was carried out in 1998. The data obtained from the census will be used for distribution of the National Assembly seats and division of financial resources. The population is also the base for distribution of civil service jobs among the provinces. (ANI)