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Pakistan Peace Coalition condemns beheading of Sikhs, demands protection to all minorities

by Pakistan Peace Coalition, 23 February 2010

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Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC)

PRESS RELEASE

Karachi, 23 February 2010

Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC) has vehemently condemned the terrorist acts of beheading of two Sikhs in separate incidents in Khyber and Orakzai agencies of Federal Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) by militants and termed them attempts to sabotage the revival of peace process between Pakistan and India.

In a statement on Tuesday, PPC members expressed grief and sorrow over the tragic murder of two Sikhs, who were earlier kidnapped by Taliban terrorists. In the most recent incident Taliban terrorists killed Jaspal Singh in Khyber Agency. Singh along with two others, was kidnapped by terrorists two weeks before, and their captors were demanding ransom money for their release. However, when the relatives agreed to pay ransom money, the Taliban kidnappers ruthlessly beheaded Jaspal Singh and threw away his body. While two others Sikhs - Gurjit Singh and Gurvinder Singh - are still in their custody.

The relatives of deceased found a letter with the body warning them with suicide attacks if the details of the beheading and kidnapping were revealed to the media or security forces.

According to some news reports Taliban had forced Jaspal Singh to cut his hair and convert to Islam to which he refused and they beheaded him in retaliation. In a similar incident a month ago, Taliban had kidnapped another Pakistani Sikh Mahal Singh in Orakzai Agency and killed him.

A small number of Sikhs are peacefully living in NWFP and tribal areas since centuries. There have been reports that Sikhs in this region have been subjected to Jizya - an Islamic tax that is collected from non-Muslims. All these taxes are illegal and tantamount to challenge the writ of the government. A large number of Sikhs have already migrated from NWFP to various areas in Punjab in fear of Taliban militants.

All these tragic incidents have moved the entire Pakistani nation as no civil society can tolerate such barbaric acts. The minorities in Pakistan are already feeling insecurity in Pakistan and these types of incidents are attempt to harass the vulnerable sections of the society. These incidents would certainly increase uncertainty and fear among the monitories and jeopardize the peace process in this region. A large number of Sikhs are living in India and anti-peace elements in India may use this incident to create hindrances in peace talks. We are confident that Indian government would not use this incident as an excuse to further delay the peace negotiations.

We believe that the peace dialogue should be a continuous process without any interference and Pakistan government should take serious measures to protect its minorities and stern action be taken against terrorists. State should use all its resources to get all the remaining hostages freed from their kidnapers.