From History to Cricket: Pakistan’s Persistent Prejudice Against Sikhs

by Parminder Singh Sodhi

In a world where sports are meant to unite people across borders and cultures, it’s deeply disheartening to witness racism rear its ugly head on such a prominent stage. Recently, during a tense T20 World Cup 2024 clash between India and Pakistan in New York, former Pakistan cricketer Kamran Akmal made a racially insensitive comment about Indian cricketer Arshdeep Singh. This remark has not only sparked outrage but also brought to light the persistent prejudice and historical animosities against the Sikh minority that continue to plague Pakistan.

The incident occurred on ARY News Pakistan, where Akmal, in a tasteless attempt at humor, made a derogatory comment about Arshdeep’s Sikh heritage. He stated, “Kuch bhi ho sakta hai… 12 baj gaye hai (Anything can happen to a Sikh. It is already 12).” This comment, steeped in ignorance and prejudice, quickly went viral, provoking strong reactions from many, including former India cricketer Harbhajan Singh.

Harbhajan, known for his fierce loyalty to his community and country, did not hold back. Taking to social media, he blasted Akmal, saying, “Lakh di laanat tere Kamraan Akhmal.. You should know the history of Sikhs before you open your filthy mouth. We Sikhs saved your mothers and sisters when they were abducted by invaders, the time invariably was 12 o’clock. Shame on you…Have some Gratitude.” Harbhajan’s response was not just a defense of Arshdeep but a powerful reminder of the Sikh community’s historical contributions and sacrifices.

The disdain and prejudice against Sikhs from some quarters in Pakistan are not new. The history of mass executions, rapes, and tortures by the Pakistan Muslim League towards Sikhs during the 1947 partition is a dark chapter that cannot be ignored. The dwindling Sikh population in Pakistan, now reduced to just a few thousand, stands as a stark testament to the ongoing marginalization and persecution.

What is even more troubling is the conspicuous silence from Pro-Khalistan extremists, who claim to be the flag bearers of Sikh interests and community. These groups, usually quick to blame India for any perceived slight against Sikhs, have remained mum when Pakistanis disparage Sikhs on a global platform. This silence is not only hypocritical but reveals the self-serving nature of these extremists. They choose to ignore the real issues affecting Sikhs, focusing instead on their self-serving political agendas.

It is a moment of reckoning for all of us who believe in equality and respect. Harbhajan Singh’s fierce defense of Arshdeep Singh is a call to action against racism and bigotry. It reminds us that sports should be a medium to celebrate diversity, not to demean it. It’s time for all of us, regardless of our affiliations, to stand together and say no to hate.

The cricket field is no place for racism. It’s a space for talent, hard work, and the spirit of the game. As fans, players, and human beings, we must uphold these values and reject any form of discrimination. Harbhajan Singh’s stand against Kamran Akmal’s comment is a powerful reminder of the importance of respect and unity in sports and in life. It’s a call for everyone to learn from history, honor the contributions of every community, and foster a culture of inclusivity and mutual respect.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Khalsa Vox or its members.

Parminder Singh Sodhi

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