On a bustling street in Peshawar, the rhythmic chaos of daily life was shattered by a single gunshot. The lifeless body of Manmohan Singh, a young Sikh shopkeeper of approximately 29-30 years old, tragically bore testimony to the reality of religious persecution that has become increasingly prevalent in Pakistan.
Manmohan’s life was taken in his own shop, a place that should have offered him safety and comfort. His story echoes a growing trend of violence against religious minorities in Pakistan, a disturbing issue that demands international attention.
Manmohan’s family had already escaped the Orakzai Agency, relocating to Peshawar in search of security. Today, their hope has been extinguished with a bullet, in a city they considered a refuge. The tragic irony lies in the fact that Manmohan was not the first Sikh to be killed this year in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province. Two Sikhs were brutally murdered in March, as the community continues to reel under the burden of persecution.
Pakistan’s constitution ostensibly guarantees freedom of religion, but in practice, minorities like Sikhs face tremendous discrimination. They are continually marginalized, ill-treated, and even killed because of their faith.
This escalating violence has led to a slow but steady exodus of Sikhs from KPK province to places perceived to offer greater safety, such as Panja Sahib, Nankana Sahib, and Lahore. Some are even contemplating crossing borders, seeking refuge in India. They’re being uprooted from their homes, forced to leave their businesses and livelihoods behind, all in the pursuit of a life free from the looming threat of religious intolerance.
This pattern of religious intolerance is not limited to Sikhs; Christians, Hindus, Ahmadiyya, and even smaller sects within Islam face the wrath of extremists. This abhorrent mistreatment is tearing at the fabric of Pakistan’s societal dynamics, turning it into a monochrome blanket of oppression.
The international community must take notice of this ongoing persecution in Pakistan. Silence is complicity, and the world cannot afford to stay silent while religious minorities are being systematically targeted.
Efforts need to be channeled to pressurize the Pakistani government to take concrete steps to protect religious minorities and ensure justice for victims like Manmohan Singh. Pakistan needs to live up to its constitutional commitment to religious freedom, and this can only be achieved by enforcing laws that protect all of its citizens, irrespective of their faith.
As we mourn the loss of Manmohan Singh and too many others like him, it’s critical to confront the reality of religious persecution in Pakistan. It’s high time the world wakes up to the religious intolerance brewing in the nation and lends a voice to the voiceless. We must band together to fight against this onslaught of religious persecution and strive for a world where everyone, irrespective of their faith, can live in peace and security.