Exploitation of Sikh Religious Sentiments in Pakistan

by Parminder Singh Sodhi

The Sikh community in Pakistan has long struggled with systemic oppression and neglect. Recent revelations from an Urdu daily newspaper, Rozana Mashriq, highlight yet another chapter in this disturbing saga. On June 9, the donation boxes (Golaks) of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Shri Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, were opened prematurely and without the proper approval of the concerned authorities. This blatant disregard for protocol not only underscores the ongoing marginalization of Sikhs in Pakistan but also raises serious questions about corruption and mismanagement at the highest levels.

The report specifically points fingers at Saifullah Khokkar, Deputy Secretary (Admin) of the Project Management Unit (PMU) and Acting Additional Secretary (Shrines), ETPB. Khokkar, allegedly complicit in this unauthorized action, abandoned almost 840 Indian pilgrims who had come to Pakistan to commemorate the Martyrdom Day of Shri Arjan Dev Ji. The pilgrims were left stranded as Khokkar rushed to Shri Kartarpur Sahib under dubious pretenses, demonstrating a blatant disregard for the sanctity of the Sikh religious site and the devotees who had traveled to honor their spiritual heritage.

The opening of the Golaks in the dead of night, reportedly supervised by Khokkar, resulted in the recovery of Rs. 4 crores. Disturbingly, this significant sum has yet to be deposited in any bank, raising serious suspicions of financial misappropriation. Such actions betray not only a lack of accountability but also a deep-seated corruption that has plagued the management of Sikh religious sites in Pakistan. Adding insult to injury, 15 months ago, INR 25 lakhs were siphoned off by government authorities, and gold worth several crores from the Palki Sahib went missing. These incidents remain unresolved, with the Pakistani government and PMU maintaining an alarming silence.

The recurring theme in these reports is not merely administrative incompetence but an insidious pattern of exploitation and neglect. Sikh religious sites, which should be preserved with utmost respect and care, are instead treated as opportunities for personal gain by those in power. This latest incident is a stark reminder of the systemic issues that continue to afflict the Sikh community in Pakistan.

Efforts to reach the Project Management Unit CEO, Muhammad Abu Bakar Aftab Qureshi, for comments have been met with silence. This lack of transparency and accountability only further alienates the Sikh community, deepening their sense of betrayal and abandonment by the very authorities tasked with safeguarding their religious heritage.

The international community must take notice of the plight of Sikhs in Pakistan. It is imperative that we hold the Pakistani government accountable for these ongoing abuses and demand transparency and justice. The Sikh community’s rich cultural and religious heritage deserves to be protected, and their rights as citizens must be upheld.

In light of these grievous revelations, the premature and unauthorized opening of the donation boxes (Golaks) at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Shri Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, epitomizes the broader issues of corruption and systemic neglect faced by the Sikh community in Pakistan. This act, devoid of any procedural adherence, not only exemplifies the pervasive mismanagement but also highlights the urgent need for stringent oversight and reform within the governing bodies. Pakistan must end the systemic injustice that has plagued Sikhs in Pakistan for far too long. It is time to ensure that the sanctity of these sites is upheld, and the rights of the Sikh community are safeguarded, thereby restoring their faith in justice and equity.

Parminder Singh Sodhi

You may also like

Khalsa Vox

Khalsa Vox is a new-age online digest that brings to you the latest in Punjab politics, history, culture, heritage and more.

Latest Stories

Khalsa Vox, All Right Reserved.