Setting at rest all fears recently raised in the Indian and international media, in this exclusive interview with the World Sikh News, during his recent New York trip, chairperson of the Pakistan Sikh Council -Ramesh Singh Khalsa categorically declares that Pakistan is safe for the Sikhs and Sikhs in Pakistan have a bright future.
Make no mistake. Believe no propaganda. Pakistan is a safe country for Sikhs. And other minorities too. Universal problems of violence happen, but they affect us all, not just the select few.
“Pakistan is safe for the Sikhs and Sikhs in Pakistan have a bright future, notwithstanding any small mishaps that may occur. Sikhs worldwide need to visit their historical Gurdwaras and centres in Pakistan without any fear and reservations” said Ramesh Singh Khalsa, Chairperson of the Pakistan Sikh Council in an exclusive interview with the World Sikh News, during his recent New York trip.
For the nearly 25 thousand Sikhs, the tiniest of all minorities in Pakistan, it is not a question of numbers. It is living the life of a true Sikh exemplified by the remarkable fact that Sikhs who continue to live there after the Indo-Pak separation of the Indian continent, do so remembering that their elders chose to stay there to “look after the historic shrines and other centres of glorious heritage of the Sikhs.”
Ramesh Singh Khalsa was candid and direct, “No doubt minorities face minor problems sometimes, but such problems are faced by the majority Muslim community too. We have had no forcible conversion of Sikhs to Islam in any of the four states where Sikhs live since the formation of the country.” In fact, it would not be wrong to say that there is no conversion of Hindus, Christians and Parsis, who too continue to live peacefully and follow their religious and social traditions, he added.
“Almost the entire Sikh population in Pakistan was Sabat Soorat -in the full Sikh form, as ordained by Guru Gobind Singh and that their children love Sikhi.”
Referring to the recent reports of India’s heightened interests both politically and in the media about the welfare of the Sikhs in Pakistan, Ramesh Singh was categorical, “A small incident of a wayward bureaucrat has simply been blown up out of proportion. The said official has been suspended, an enquiry has been ordered by the local government, and there was no cause for concern.”
Assistant Commissioner Tehsil Tall Yaqoob Khan, who was harassing a few Sikhs in the Hangu district of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province -one of the four provinces in which the Sikhs live, has been suspended. The Deputy Commissioner of the district -Shahi Mohammed has clarified that the administration guarantees full religious freedom and no such conversion has taken place, as alleged in a section of the media.
Honoured by the Gurdwara Sant Sagar in New York, the ever so humble Ramesh Singh was so happy to share that “almost the entire Sikh population in Pakistan was Sabat Soorat -in the full Sikh form, as ordained by Guru Gobind Singh and that their children love Sikhi.” He acknowledged that there were Sikhs from all economic strata in Pakistan and that those who have more are always ready to share with their economically weak brethren.
Sikhs in Pakistan have created a niche for themselves in all walks of life -we have a major in the army Hercharan Singh, a Member of Parliament Ramesh Singh Arora, doctors, teachers, university professors, singers, people in business and others who have excelled through sheer hard work and have glorified the turban.
Another rare trait to imbibe was his sense of gratitude -always thankful to God Almighty for bestowing his love and blessings. He was grateful to the government of Pakistan that enables the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to celebrate Gurpurabs and other functions at historic Gurdwaras the Sikhs left behind 70 years ago and takes care of the hospitality and security of nearly 6000 Sikh pilgrims who visit Gurdwara Nankana Sahib and other shrines from India and across the world.
Early this year, Ramesh Singh Khalsa was honoured with recognition in the Sikhs in Charity section of the World Sikh Awards in Canada. He would be touring Washington and California in the second leg of his present US tour.