FO summons Indian envoy over allegations of maltreatment of Sikh community

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia to convey Pakistan’s rejection of India’s allegations concerning the maltreatment of the Sikh community and attacks on Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, a statement from the FO said on Tuesday.

During the meeting, Director General (South Asia & SAARC) Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri conveyed Pakistan’s denouncement of the Indian government’s allegations of “vandalism and desecration” of Gurdwara Nankana Sahib and the “targeted killing” of a Pakistani Sikh youth in Peshawar.

The DG termed these allegations as a part of India’s “desperate attempts to divert attention from the continuing state terrorism” in India-occupied Kashmir (IOK) and “systematic discrimination against minorities in India,” the statement said.

The DG further said that Pakistan’s constitution guarantees equal rights to all its citizens and the government is committed to protecting the rights of minorities, with zero-tolerance against any discrimination.

According to the FO statement, the Indian Deputy High Commissioner was told that “rather than pointing fingers towards others, India should focus on ensuring effective protection of its own minorities and their holy places of worship — including mosques — from repeated instances of desecration, hate crimes and mob lynchings.”

The Indian allegations had surfaced after police had to step in on Friday amid rising tensions in Nankana Sahib after a heated debate at a tea stall threatened to blow into a big law and order issue.

Reports said four customers, while taking tea at Zaman’s stall in front of Gurdwara Janam Asthan, started a conversation about his nephew, Muhammad Ehsaan who, just a few months ago, came into the limelight for marrying a Sikh girl after allegedly forcing her to convert.

Zaman reportedly reacted with anger, which led to a confrontation between two groups. A small crowd gathered to raise slogans. A team of Nankana Sahib police had to intervene briskly to control the situation.

In a statement issued later that day, the Foreign Office had clarified that the incident in Nankana Sahib was the result of an “altercation between two Muslim groups” and that it should not be portrayed as a communal issue.