Confronting religion: Sikh prohibited from carrying kirpans at airport

Despite several meetings held with govt officials problem yet to be resolved۔

Riaz Ahmad August 24, 2012

PESHAWAR: Sikhs have been prohibited from entering the Peshawar airport while carrying their religious symbol kirpan (a small dagger).

The kirpan is one of the five kakar that are considered a religious necessity for all practising Khalisa Sikhs. Carrying a kirpan, kara (iron bracelet), kanga (Comb), kachera (underwear) and kesh (hair) is considered an essential part of their faith.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Dr Sahib Singh, a representative of the Sikh community and a former member of the district assembly, said that the people of his community had not been allowed to enter the Bacha Khan International Airport with a kirpan.

“If you abandon any one of the five kakar, it means that you are not a member of the Khalisa religion formed by Guru Goband Singh,” explained Dr Singh. He said that people in Punjab understand this rule and do not face any problems at the Lahore airport, where thousands of yatris from across the world are received every year.

Dr Singh further said that as per the 1971 constitution, the Sikh community had been allowed to carry a kirpan of up to three feet.  However, Sikhs in Peshawar and other parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa carry only small kirpans, of three to six inches in length. “The constitution of this country gives us the right to carry our religious symbol and there is no evidence that we have harmed anyone with it. It is just a symbol of bravery as our Guru also carried a kirpan with him.”

Another member of the community, Ajeet Singh, said that Sikhs cannot just abandon their religion over security measures. He said that they too are citizens of Pakistan and it is the duty of the provincial government to solve the problem.

A representative of the Hindu community, Haroon Sarb Dyal, told The Express Tribune that a number of meetings with government officials had been held but no progress has been made on the issue. Dyal said that the constitution of Pakistan gives minorities the right to live in accordance with their religious teachings and that the government should resolve the problem.

Civil Aviation Authority Public Relations Officer Pervez George said that even personnel of law enforcement agencies are not allowed to bring arms or anything that poses threat inside the airport.

Mian Safdar, assistant director of the Airport Security Force at the Bacha Khan International Airport said that carrying a kirpan in hand luggage is banned all over the country.“In my 30 years of service, carrying a kirpan has always been strictly prohibited.”  He added, however, that kirpans are allowed in
luggage that is checked in.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2012.


Joe | 9 years ago | Reply "Why is this such a big issue, the dagger presents a clear danger to the security of the people on the plane." It's a big deal because Sikhs are forbidden from using the Kirpan to cause harm to someone without cause. It is for defense of self and defense of the weak and powerless against violent aggression. A Sikh is restrained from using the Kirpan to commit acts of terror, therefore it poses no threat whatsoever to anyone.
Gen zia ul Haq ka bab | 9 years ago | Reply

When are they going to ban Pakistanis from carrying bombs?

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