PARACHINAR: After almost 20 years, the special three-day-long prayer ceremony held by Hindus and Sikhs made a comeback in Ibrahimzai village in Kurram Agency.
On Monday 500 people, including a large number of Sunni and Shia elders, attended the event. Kurram Agency Assistant Political Agent Shahid Ali Khan was also present at the joint dua’a ceremony on behalf of the government.
A ritual of old
The special three-day-long, joint prayer ceremony, an annual event of the region, was suspended during mid-90’s due to growing militancy. A large number of people—Sikh and Hindu—had then migrated to safer parts of the country. Many left Pakistan altogether.
The APA addressed the participants: “The administration is determined to provide security to all non-Muslims who make the pilgrimage to this area.” He said the construction of a road connecting Talla Sahib with Ibrahimzai town would be included in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas development programme to make the commute easier for the pilgrims.
Shahid said non-Muslims were citizens of the country, and “have rights just like Muslims.” He urged elders and representatives of Sikh and Hindu communities, settled in different parts of Kurram, to come forward and inform the political administration of the hardships and difficulties they encounter.
Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan recently announced the government would issue domicile certificates and award Lungis to elders of non-Muslim communities as a sign of welcome and honour. So far, four elders of non-Muslim communities from Khyber Agency have been awarded their due status.
Kurram Agency neighbours Hangu district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and its borders also touch North Waziristan, Orakzai and Khyber agencies. Kurram is bordered by Khost and Logar provinces of Afghanistan on the west. All these regions are known for having a large number of non-Muslim settlements.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2015.