Pakistan’s ‘sevadar’: Deputy attorney-general polishes shoes in India

Published: March 27, 2012

Khan left for Amritsar to clean thousands more.

When he’s not performing his official duties as part of a visiting delegation in India, Deputy attorney-general Muhammad Khurshid Khan chooses to clean shoes at places of worship as “penance for crimes committed by the Taliban”. 

Khan, 62, is to clean the shoes of thousands of devotees at India’s Golden Temple in Amritsar in “penance” for the beheading of a Sikh by the Taliban in Peshawar two years ago, reported The Telegraph.

After spending several hours polishing the shoes of worshippers at Gurdwara Sisganj in New Delhi on Monday, where he was part of a Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association delegation, Khan left for Amritsar to clean thousands more.

According to the British daily, Khan began his service pilgrimage after Jaspal Singh, one of three Sikh men kidnapped by Taliban militants in Peshawar in 2010, was murdered. The other two men were rescued by the Pakistani Army.

Since then he has visited Sikh temples or Gurdwaras in Pakistan and India to declare his opposition to terrorism through ‘sevadari’ – service – to other religions.

According to the Times of India, Khan aims to “heal the wounds of minorities in Pakistan by becoming their sevadar (performer of service)”.

Khan said following the killing of Singh, he visited Peshawar’s Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh and resolved to visit other places of worship, including Hindu temples and Christian churches to offer his help.

He visited his local Gurdwara every day for two months, where he read the works of the Sikh gurus and polished shoes.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (54)

  • Dee Cee
    Mar 27, 2012 - 6:13PM

    Now I am not much for emotional claptrap, but this moistens my eyes. What a grand hero!

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  • BlackJack
    Mar 27, 2012 - 6:18PM

    Respect.

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  • Mar 27, 2012 - 6:19PM

    Very inspirational – time we all do it.

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  • ik
    Mar 27, 2012 - 6:42PM

    There is no shame in accepting mistakes openly.

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  • Falcon
    Mar 27, 2012 - 6:48PM

    Now…this is unheard of humbleness. Simply inspiring and spiritual!

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  • siddh
    Mar 27, 2012 - 7:14PM

    Pure humanity

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  • gp65
    Mar 27, 2012 - 7:24PM

    Deep respect for this man. Thank you Tribune for reporting this.

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  • Pollack
    Mar 27, 2012 - 7:25PM

    Holy molly! Is this guy really a Pakistani?

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  • NewGandhi
    Mar 27, 2012 - 7:28PM

    ” ‘sevadari’ – service to other religions” What a beautiful concept!

    I think this has the potential to become another powerful force, as did the Satyagraha

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  • Tariq
    Mar 27, 2012 - 7:41PM

    What a humble, honest, kind and noble gesture. This is the true Pakistan, not the crap u misinformed drones get to see on tv. Visit our rural regions and see for urself.

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  • Babloo
    Mar 27, 2012 - 7:44PM

    He should be committing penance for the atrocities commiitted by the state of Pakistan.
    Its not Taleban who have reduced Hindu-Sikhs from 22% of population to 2% in W Pakistan. Its not taliban who have passed anti-minority laws and changed the constitution to say minorities cannot become prresident or PM of Pakistan. Its not Taliban who have enshrined hate literature against Hindus in Pakistan school books.
    The crimes committed by taliban are insignificant as compared to the crimes comitted by the state of Pakistan.

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  • Fahad Raza
    Mar 27, 2012 - 7:46PM

    Now that is humbleness at its best.

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  • Anjum
    Mar 27, 2012 - 7:51PM

    Sevadari – to other religions. What great insan he is. And a guide for us all.

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  • Mar 27, 2012 - 7:54PM

    This is sick! I mean…what! There were many other ways to “heal” their wounds. Why this polishing stuff?! Not a sane person would do such a thing. Embarrassing!

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  • Fahad Raza
    Mar 27, 2012 - 8:01PM

    @Afghan Karachiite:
    What other ways they might be..?? Coming down form the mountain and invading…??

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  • luckyfatima
    Mar 27, 2012 - 8:10PM

    Mohd. Khursheed Khan has been doing this act of seva for around 2 years and did not receive international publicity for it. I first read about it some time back in a Pakistani newspaper (may have been here). I actually tweeted that article and I recall some negative tweet-backs from Pakistanis themselves about his act about perhaps his time could be better spent. Though it’s not like he spends all day shining shoes. The most poignant tweet I got back on the article, which was entitled something like “Pashtoon Shines Shoes at Peshawar Gurdwara” was from a Pashtoon tweeter who asked, “And who will shine the shoes of the Pashtoons?” This man was absolutely right. Many communities have been abused and wronged all around the world. Also, do not at all believe in collective guilt of Muslims or Pakistanis as Khan seems to…individuals Muslims shouldn’t have to pay penance for terrorists just because they were also Muslims…but Khan’s gesture goes beyond that. It is part of healing, showing a minority community that they are welcome in their own land, and Khan as a member of the majority community is there to serve them. Now, going to India is taking a larger step towards healing communal relations. Though Khan didn’t begin his seva mission with the intent of working internationally, this is a beautiful and humble step, grand but not at all grandiose, towards interfaith and intercommunal healing. I am deeply moved and inspired by this act of seva. I am wondering whose shoes I should be shining, metaphorically…we could all be doing some shoe shining, really.

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  • Ch Allah Daad
    Mar 27, 2012 - 8:25PM

    Great respect for this true muslim.

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  • Abba Jee
    Mar 27, 2012 - 8:46PM

    Many high ranking bureaucrats and academicians in India do this SEVA in Gurdwaras. They do not polish the shoes, they simply collect the shoes ( Jauras ) and put them in boxes and give a metallic token to the devotee. Once the devotee is back after pilgrimage he gets his shoes ( Jaura ) back by giving the token.

    Only fortunate people get the opportunity to do this kind of Seva. He is truly blessed and fortunate too.

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  • Rizwan Ali
    Mar 27, 2012 - 8:50PM

    I wish i could b a Muslim and Pakistani like this guy. I have great respect for him. Polishing the shoes is not an embracing act.

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  • BlackJack
    Mar 27, 2012 - 9:02PM

    @luckyfatima:
    The sevadar concept that Mr. Khan is following is seen mainly in Gurdwaras where the individual(often well-educated and wealthy people – usually Sikhs and Hindus) performs some menial job (mostly in the kitchen) as part of the Guru ka langar (free food served to all). It could be a penance, but is definitely an offering thats shows great humility through negation of the self. GkL is based on the idea that everyone is equal and will work together and eat together (food is usually vegetarian so that everyone can eat); I think Chisthi Sufis also had a concept of langar but without the voluntary community service angle.

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  • gp65
    Mar 27, 2012 - 9:03PM

    @Tariq: “What a humble, honest, kind and noble gesture. This is the true Pakistan,”

    I agreee with the first part of your statement that this is a humble, kind and noble gesture.
    I disagree with the 2nd part that this is true Pakistan implying that this is how the ordinary Pakistani man conducts himself. The forced conversions, honour killings, persecution of Ahmadis and increasingly Shias now, kidnappings of NGO workers for no reason other than they being white, blowing up of mosques, dargahs and other worship places – all of this are part of the real Pakistan.
    Thos noble act is particularly noticeable because it is uncommon.

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  • Paras Vikmani
    Mar 27, 2012 - 9:14PM

    Salute this hero!

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  • zalim singh
    Mar 27, 2012 - 9:16PM

    now this is one hero from pakistani army whom we can salute.

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  • s shah
    Mar 27, 2012 - 9:34PM

    I have tremendous respect for Mr. Khurshid Khan. May Allah SWT Bless and Protect him.

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  • Mar 27, 2012 - 10:13PM

    He being the performer and in service to others is fulfilling what God has told all of us to do. “Serve your neighbour, love them and bring happiness in their lives and ‘He’ will be happy with you!”

    Let us believe in this faith that we all should serve our fellow men and neighbours with love from core of hour soul and heart.

    Let us not care to serve God only.

    The two above efforts lead to same destination, however the earlier is is most Liked by Allah(SWT).

    regards

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  • Well Wisher
    Mar 27, 2012 - 10:25PM

    Zalim Singh, unfortunately he is not an army general but attorney general. We love & salute him & are truly proud of him. God bless him. This is called showing a soft face to the world,

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  • Amir
    Mar 27, 2012 - 10:31PM

    Stupid man. How is this going to bring back the sikhs killed by the taliban. Or for that matter is this in anyway force taliban to repent or what

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  • Riaz Khan
    Mar 27, 2012 - 10:31PM

    Sir, You made us proud! We love & respect you & hoping that other Pakistanis follow your footsteps. God bless you! Your parents must be very proud of you besides salute to them for their fantastic upbringing.Recommend

  • sumeet
    Mar 27, 2012 - 10:44PM

    despite so much violence and negativity in pakistan,people like khan and edhi are the real gems,pakistan should be proud of such heros.hats off to you sir..you are a true aryan(noble) vedic and a true muslim.

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  • humayun
    Mar 27, 2012 - 10:51PM

    Mohammad Khurshid Khan is a great man not only for India but also for the entire humanity!we all r in dire need of many Mohammad Khurshid Khans,May Allah bless you and guide others to imitate you! Ameen

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  • Usman
    Mar 27, 2012 - 11:10PM

    there are many other ways to serve…this wont do crap..it will only make him look like a fool…if he wants to do something, do it at a political level, hes got the connections and the position himself to get minorities a voice that can be heard..I personally think its quite a dumb act..But then again, thats just my opinion.

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  • PS
    Mar 27, 2012 - 11:31PM

    @Afghan Karachiite:
    there is nothing to embarass anyone…its just a service to humanity and keeping alive your humility

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  • usman
    Mar 27, 2012 - 11:47PM

    @PS:
    Service to humanty doesn’t mean you polish shoes. However, it may include feeding the poor there, providing shelter or other necessities.

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  • Cynical
    Mar 28, 2012 - 12:08AM

    A great human being.Hope we learn from his humility.

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  • Khurram
    Mar 28, 2012 - 12:10AM

    Mohammad Khursheed Khan, Sir we are very proud of you and salute to your humility and sevadari, only the courageous and brave-heart can do this and without a doubt you are that one. May the Almighty Allah grant you all the moral sand physical strength to bring about a deep inter-faith understanding and an everlasting peace.

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  • SonarBangla
    Mar 28, 2012 - 12:30AM

    First he should have come to Bangladesh and polish the entire population’s shoes. It’s about time dont you think Mr. Khan?

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  • arjun
    Mar 28, 2012 - 1:29AM

    @Tariq:
    we want to live -not visit to not come back……
    what do you have to visit other than islamic rigid symbols of arabic descent…

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  • Arjun
    Mar 28, 2012 - 3:30AM

    If more Muslims were like this, the image of Islam would turn around in a year..

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  • Arijit Sharma
    Mar 28, 2012 - 3:55AM

    @SonarBangla: ” … First he should have come to Bangladesh and polish the entire population’s shoes. It’s about time dont you think Mr. Khan? … “

    All this might be a back hand attempt at reviving militancy in Indian Punjab. Mr Khan may really have good intentions, we want to believe that he really means what he says; we want to trust him, but we must verify.

    (Muslim invaders tried different tactics to gain control over India, so, being paranoid makes good strategic sense.)

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  • iftikhar sadeed
    Mar 28, 2012 - 4:24AM

    @SonarBangla:
    At least he is doing something good, so appreciate it. We can not turn time back now but surely this gentleman is doing a fine service.

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  • Bombay Dude
    Mar 28, 2012 - 7:00AM

    Salute ! We need more people like him on both countries to bring common people together. Indeed a humbling act. Makes us feel shame on petty fights we pick up here at ET. But well this is fun too right :) . But It would be good if we could all develop such humbleness as Mr Khan here.

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  • Homa
    Mar 28, 2012 - 7:28AM

    What a remarkable human being! Wonderful role model.

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  • Scorpio
    Mar 28, 2012 - 9:05AM

    @ Sonar Bangla: after which you have to come to Karachi and atone for decimating the entire Non- Bengali Population in East Pakistan. You are not the innocent victim you make yourself out to be. At least we acknowledge guilt.

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  • Falcon
    Mar 28, 2012 - 9:29AM

    @arjun:
    Out of curiosity, have you ever seen a glass half full?

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  • Falcon
    Mar 28, 2012 - 9:52AM

    @BlackJack:
    All sufi orders have concept of service angle. This includes Chishtia, Naqshbandia, Qadariya, and Saharwurdiya orders that are popular in South Asia. This is because in Sufis, service to humanity is considered the fastest route to spiritual ascension.

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  • Yash
    Mar 28, 2012 - 11:01AM

    @usman:

    service to humanity = working for others without any selfish gains…FULL STOP

    by ur logic….feeding the poor will also be a foolish act…wasting time when khurshid could have done something more productive…

    learn to appreciate sumthin

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  • Truthbetold
    Mar 28, 2012 - 11:24AM

    A genuine and humble humanist! I was quite moved by his self-sacrifice and his compassion for his fellow human beings. Salute to Mr. Khan.

    Having said that, has anyone noticed that the page format of the forums has changed? Also, there is no formatting feature in the reply box anymore.

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  • khan of quetta
    Mar 28, 2012 - 11:58AM

    so this is what the pp government wants us to become slaves of indians dont vote pp

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  • Anvith
    Mar 28, 2012 - 2:47PM

    A very humbling act, hats off sir.

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  • Anunay
    Mar 28, 2012 - 7:35PM

    I am just curious, How on earth is it helping any of those families who were destroyed ?
    From someone holding a post of that responsibility, we would definitely expect an action that is really helping in any smallest way.

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  • Vinayak
    Mar 28, 2012 - 8:15PM

    We need more people like this guy. If at least 50% of population is like this person, then the other 50% (which includes me) will not have to work to live.

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  • Truthbetold
    Mar 29, 2012 - 12:25AM

    @Falcon:

    “All sufi orders have concept of service angle. This includes Chishtia, Naqshbandia, Qadariya, and Saharwurdiya orders that are popular in South Asia. This is because in Sufis, service to humanity is considered the fastest route to spiritual ascension.”

    This is not surprising considering that Sufism has adopted a lot of Hindu Vedantic principles. Service to humanity also called karma is one of the paths to enlightenment in Hinduism.

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  • SonarBangla
    Mar 29, 2012 - 1:58AM

    @Scorpio
    “@ Sonar Bangla: after which you have to come to Karachi and atone for decimating the entire Non- Bengali Population in East Pakistan. You are not the innocent victim you make yourself out to be. At least we acknowledge guilt.”

    Your government is the one who did not accept your loyal bihari brothers and took them back to pakistan. Why did you not take them back? many lives would have been saved.Recommend

  • Mar 30, 2012 - 4:15PM

    That is something so humbling. He must be a very religious and pious man. Persons like him can bridge the divide between nations and give a fitting reply to the fanatics spreading the massage of hat in both countries.Let us all be part of his efforts at fostering peace between religions and people.

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