Pakistan's Sikh community upset for being 'left out' of national census

Islamabad [Pakistan], Mar. 19 (ANI): Expressing disappointment at being 'left out' of the national census, the Sikh community in Peshawar has said that they fear their community would not be adequately represented in Pakistan's first national headcount in 19 years.

"The concerned department has not included the Sikh minority in the ongoing count. It is not only unfortunate for us, it is also a point of great concern for the community to have been missed out in the counting exercise," the Dawn quoted Radesh Sing Tony, chairman of a Sikh committee, as saying to a news channel.

He complained the community was not counted among the religions included in the census form despite a sizeable number of Sikhs living in Pakistan.

Asserting that Sikhs would be counted under the 'other' religion category in the form, Tony said this would not provide an accurate picture of the Sikh population and was an injustice being done to them as they were being deprived of their rights.

Tony said he had written to the chief justice of Pakistan and the chief justices of the Peshawar and Sindh High Courts requesting that the community be counted as an official religion.

Admitting it was a mistake on the part of the census authorities, a spokesperson for the census exercise, Habibullah Khan said, "Yes, a sizable population of Sikhs is living in Pakistan, but have we missed them in the census."

Most of the Sikhs in Pakistan live in the province of Punjab, a part of the larger Punjab region where the religion originated in the Middle Age, and Peshawar in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism, is located in the Punjab province. (ANI)