Pakistan rejects Indian concern over welfare of Sikh minorities

May 2nd, 2009 - 7:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, May 2 (DPA) Pakistan Saturday rejected Indian concerns about the plight of Sikh families living in militancy-hit tribal areas and said it was taking care of all citizens, including the minorities.
India issued a verbal demarche to Pakistan Friday after reports that Taliban militants had demolished 11 homes of Sikhs living in Orakzai agency, which is one of seven districts of troubled tribal areas in northwestern Pakistan.

“India was told that Sikhs living in Orakzai agency were Pakistani citizens and hence of no concern to India,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said.

“Pakistan was fully cognizant of the situation and looked after the welfare of all its citizens particularly the minority community,” the statement added.

Media reports said Taliban militants, who have gained control over large areas in tribal belt and neighbouring North West Frontier Province, renewed a medieval practice of imposing Islamic tax or “jiziya” on non-Muslim inhabiting a Muslim state in return for full protection.

Taliban with their particular interpretation of Islam favour a number of harsh practices of early Islam including public flogging, stoning and jiziya.

Majority of the Pakistani public takes a moderate view and support Pakistan’s modern legal system of taxes and punishments.

A few hundred Sikh families have been living in northwest Pakistan for decades, including more than 35 Sikh families in Ferozkhel area of Orakzai, which has safe-havens of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters.

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