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Embrace the minorities: edit in the Daily Times, Mar 4

4 March 2010 No Comment

The kidnapping of three Sikhs and beheading of one of them in the troubled FATA has earned a bad name for the country, where the track record of treatment of minorities is already poor. According to ISPR, the military rescued two of the kidnapped Sikhs after an operation and has shifted them to safety, while some news reports suggest they escaped the Taliban captivity in the Chapri Feroz Khel area between the Orakzai and Khyber Agencies and took shelter with the security forces in Tirah Valley. Conflicting reports aside, it is heartening that they are back and did not suffer the unfortunate fate of their companion who was beheaded last month, when his family failed to pay the ransom demanded by the deadline. The Taliban had asked the families of the three kidnapped Sikhs to pay Rs 30 million. This added another black feather to the cap of the Taliban, who are known to have no respect for anything identified as human. For that matter, they have shown no remorse in killing their ‘Muslim’ enemies, be it ‘American spies’ or ‘pro-government’ tribal elders or innocent civilians. However, the state has the responsibility to protect all citizens, particularly minorities, who are at a greater risk of abuse and violence.

It is pertinent to note that the Sikhs of FATA, who chose to stay back in predominantly Muslim Pakistan after partition, are an integral part of the tribal culture and have always been treated with reverence and respect by the locals. Things changed when the Taliban decided that non-Muslims in areas under their control would pay exorbitant taxes for their protection, forcing the majority of Sikh families to vacate their homes. That and the current event evoked strong reactions from Sikh communities around the world. For a country that was created on the issue of the largest minority of united India — the Muslims — and whose constitution gives inalienable rights to the minorities as equal citizens, events such as these call for introspection. Pakistan needs to lay the foundation of a state and society that is pluralistic, tolerant and protective of threatened minorities.  http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\03\04\story_4-3-2010_pg3_1
Inter-Taliban strife leaves 10 dead in Kurram
PESHAWAR: At least 10 terrorists have been killed in clashes between rival groups of the Taliban in the Kurram Agency, official sources said on Wednesday. The rivalry between groups headed by self-proclaimed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Mulla Toofan and TTP Kurram Agency commander Muhammad Rafique sparked clashes within the two factions of the Taliban on Tuesday. In another incident, terrorists blew up a basic health unit in Manto area of the agency, destroying all the equipment and medicine in the facility. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\03\04\story_4-3-2010_pg7_5

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