Washington, DC – Behind the glitter and fanfare with which Kartarpur Corridor to allow Sikhs pilgrims to visit Pakistan was inaugurated, there lies a stark grim reality under which the Pakistani Sikh population is living.
The majority is uneducated and living in penury while the worst sufferers are girls in the family. Lack of education and social pressure keeps them suffering, albeit a bit too long.
The revealing facts came to light as India America Today spoke to Dr. Dalvir Singh Pannu, a frequent visitor to Pakistan as he worked to compile his book “The Sikh Heritage Beyond Borders.”
Speaking to IAT, Dr. Pannu said, “The Book is about Gurdwaras in Pakistan or other historical Sikh places in Pakistan.“
Pannu went to Pakistan first time in 2008 and he is “very much involved in documenting the current situation of the (Sikh heritage) buildings to help them get restored to the former glory.”
”And while working there, I also had a chance to meet a lot of Sikhs in Pakistan, who are Pakistani nationals, who are more from Pashtun descent, “ reveals the dentist from the American West Coast.
“They generally call themselves Pathan Sikhs or Pashtun Sikhs,” noted the frequent traveler to Pakistan.
In an eye opening disclosure, Dr. Pannu told India America Today: “So while the Sikh diaspora has been very much emotional about the status of the buildings in Pakistan, I want to raise awareness about the Sikhs that are living in Pakistan.”
Urging the Sikh diaspora to act, he told IAT, “They (Sikhs in Pakistan) also need attention of the international Sikh diaspora. I will say they need more support at this time than anytime in history. Many of them are not educated and are living in poverty kind of situation.“
Elaborating on touristic experience in Pakistan, the tireless author said, “When we go as tourists, the situation in Pakistan is excellent. They are very hospitable. They love us. You will see lot of good vibes from people in Pakistan for any tourist from India. In general they are very good.”
On the other hand on the situation of Sikhs living in Pakistan, he said, “Due to some unknown reason, which I can’t tell why – (the situation) is not very great – especially financially and socially. They haven’t been able to come up to a certain level in the society.”
The author appealed to the Sikh diaspora to act for the present day Sikh population in Pakistan saying, “Once we go to Pakistan or we think of the Sikh heritage of Pakistan, we should also look at the actual Sikh population in Pakistan, meet them, make friends on the Facebook and try to ask them what do they need, especially their girls.“
Lamenting the lack of education, the author noted, “Typically a Sikh girl in Pakistan, say Nankana Saheb, will get education up to 5th grade or sometimes 8th grade and very rarely 10th grade.” The conversation, while highlighted the poor conditions of Sikh girls, also briefly touched upon the stories of girls running away or being kidnapped,
Terming it “a sad situation” Dr. Pannu said’ “The community needs our support. That’s all I will like to say.”
Noting a communication gap, the author called upon all to contribute.
“If anyone really wants to help them, the best is make friends with them online, on Facebook. It’s really easy as they are willing to talk to you now – they are understanding that there are a lot of organizations in the world, who want to do a lot for Sikhs.”