First Sikh parliamentarian in 67 years makes history

Published: June 17, 2013
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Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora, the first Sikh member of the Provincial Assembly since 1947. PHOTO: ABID NAWAZ/EXPRESS

Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora, the first Sikh member of the Provincial Assembly since 1947. PHOTO: ABID NAWAZ/EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: History was made in the Punjab Assembly last week when Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora became the first Sikh in close to 67 years who entered into Pakistan’s biggest provincial assembly and took oath as a parliamentarian.

Wearing a traditional orange-coloured turban, Sardar Arora walked into the packed assembly hall. Heads bearing warm smiles and broad grins turned in his direction and greeted the new member.

A renowned social worker and leader of the Sikh community in Pakistan, Arora comes with a mission to use the shared religious linkages across borders to further peace and trade between Pakistan and India.

Arora points out that the Gurdwaras in Nankana Sahib and Amritsar, sacred places for the Sikh community, are located only three to four kilometers away from the international border, but both Indian and Pakistani authorities do not let pilgrims from the other country visit the historical and sacred places.

“I will play a key role to promote Pakistan-India diplomacy. We should negotiate with India by passing a resolution that Kartarpur corridors should be constructed to facilitate the visitors,” the Sikh parliamentarian said, adding that business between the two neighbours should be increased.

“Kartarpur doors should be open for Indian pilgrims to easily come to Pakistan.”

Arora, who grew up in in a modest Sikh family from Nankana Sahib in Punjab, before his family moved to the Kartarpur district, Narowal to serve at the Gurdwara Kartrarpur as a Granthi. His services to his community made him aware of the numerous Gurdwaras that are in immediate need of repairs.

“My first job is to get a resolution passed for protection of Sikh’s Gurdwaras in Pakistan in Punjab.”

Arora believes that some of the shrines may even need help from the federal government.

“It’s a responsibility of the federal government to reopen some of the Sikh shrines by doing its homework,” he told The Express Tribune.

As a Sikh, Arora is also troubled by the migration of Sikh community from the militant infested Tirah Valley in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. He complained that the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) was not registering their children and were subsequently finding it difficult to find admissions in educational institutions.

“We are creating a barrier for Sikh children not to go to school. Once they [children] do not get education—it means they are being deprived of their basic rights.”

Several Sikh families migrated to Nankana Sahib, Hasanabad and other cities with Sikh population after some members their community were kidnapped last year by militants in the tribal areas.

Despite this, and media reports, Arora believes Pakistan has a conducive environment for non-Muslims to live.

“There is a very conducive environment for non-Muslims to live here in Pakistan. It’s totally a negative agenda. Pakistan is very much safe for minorities and provides equally opportunity to its minorities.”

Arora strived for protection of minority rights and represented Pakistan’s image about minorities’ rights protection at international forums. The government of Pakistan appointed Arora as a member of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. He promoted the commitment of the government to instill peace, equality, justice and tolerance within the Pakistani society.

Arora follows the vision of the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. “The imperative need of the moment is to eliminate all forces of violence, intolerance, extremism and discrimination and to create a peaceful, tolerant society.”

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Reader Comments (15)

  • PakPower
    Jun 17, 2013 - 9:03PM

    Now thats more like the Pakistan I want to see. Where minorities get their right.

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  • Kashif
    Jun 17, 2013 - 9:13PM

    Welcome Arora sahib! Good luck and warm wishes from all Pakistanis.

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  • Sher(Indian)
    Jun 17, 2013 - 9:24PM

    Love unites hate divides

    I think the two nations are getting mature enough to remove their animosity and mistrust and are slowly getting closer in an attempt to get united once again if not at-least becoming friends and to wipe-out/undo the blunders(in hind-sight) of Partition.Dividing people based on religion who are sharing a common ethnicity is a blunder which is been slowly understood and overtime. Creating animosity and dividing people based on religion,ethnicity,race etc is a sin

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  • Pacer
    Jun 17, 2013 - 9:42PM

    What about Soran Singh of PTI from Bunair. MPA in KPK?

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  • Rashid
    Jun 17, 2013 - 10:18PM

    The excitement of having one nominated (not directly elected) MPA (not MNP) in 67 years tells the whole story. There is a huge difference between a ‘directly elected’ and a ‘nominated’ member of PA, or NA. In India Muslim candidates win direct elections from general constituencies and in some constituencies having hindu majority voters.
    It should be remembered that Jinnah appointed a hindu, Jogendranath Mondal as the first law minister in the first Pakistan cabinet. In less than a year’s time he had to resign and flee to India to save his life.
    There is no reason to bring out the band and the banner as yet. The need of the hour is to ensure that the cat is capable of catching mice; it matters not if the cat is black or white.
    Truth is Pakistan is at least 100 years behind from even an imperfect democracy.

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  • Zia Syed
    Jun 17, 2013 - 10:31PM

    Welcome Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora!Recommend

  • Anwar
    Jun 17, 2013 - 10:52PM

    praying that he wll complete full in such a country like pakistan

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  • Jamil
    Jun 17, 2013 - 11:21PM

    @Pacer: First Sikh in Punjab Assembly since Partition. Eng Gayan Chand Singh was PML-Q reserved seat MNA in 2002. He was from Buner in KPK. Left Pakistan after Taliban took over the region.Recommend

  • WellWisher
    Jun 17, 2013 - 11:30PM

    Mr Ramesh Singh Arora !
    Congratulations on being able to represent our Sikh community in Punjab after such a long time. I hope you will do your best to sweeten the sour relationship between India and Pakistan and remind everyone that we need to forget the bitter past and look for a new begining as true neighbours. Wish you all the best !Recommend

  • Ram Ram
    Jun 18, 2013 - 12:09AM

    Always amazed by the brave Hindus and Sikhs who still manage to live in Pakistan.
    Despite these hallow displays of showing one or two hindus and sikhs every now and then,
    India should seriously consider repatriating all of them to India.

    Recommend

  • Muslim Leaguer
    Jun 18, 2013 - 6:28AM

    The credit for bringing him to the Assembly goes to PMLN.
    Hats-off Mr Nawaz Sharif !!

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  • rwp
    Jun 18, 2013 - 6:50AM

    @ Ram Ram .. I am really amazed how Kashmirs manage to live under brutal rule of six hundred thousand army Indian army soldiers. Salute their bravery

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  • Anwer Sumra
    Jun 19, 2013 - 8:15PM

    An earlier story in The Express Tribune also discussed his being elected to Punjab Assembly.

    Below is the link

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/557678/stand-out-parliamentarians-first-sikh-mpa-since-partition-takes-oath/

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  • saqib kamran
    Jul 20, 2013 - 2:38PM

    well come for selction . may we all work for the devolopment & prosperity for the nation

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  • Jul 20, 2013 - 2:39PM

    well come

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