‘Afghan Sikhs, Hindus face bias’

Patiala, Punjab: Afghanistan MP Dr Anarkali Kaur Honaryar said following the unrest in the country since 1991, the number of Sikhs and Hindus there was decreasing. She was speaking at the two-day South Asian Punjabi Conference at Punjabi University here.

A dentist by profession, Dr Anarkali is a well-known human rights activist, who was awarded the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh prize for the promotion of tolerance and non-violence. She was also chosen by Radio Free Europe’s Afghan chapter as the ‘Person of the year’ in May 2009.

She said Sikhs and Hindus were now marrying their daughters, who were as young as 13 years of age. She said Hindus and Sikhs were being discriminated against in Afghanistan and were considered as foreigners by many. She, however, said the present government was determined to safeguard their interests through various means. The MP said the government of Hamid Karzai had established two schools meant for Sikhs.

She said the government was planning to build a “mini-city” for Punjabis which would have many facilities such as houses, markets, schools and cremation ground.

The two-day South Asian Punjabi Conference concluded today with writers discussing problems faced by the community throughout the world and concerns over decrease in the usage of the language.

Begum Sarwat Mohiuddin, a writer and poet from Pakistan, said people were laying a lot of stress on the need to save scripts such as Gurmukhi in order to save the Punjabi language when the more important issue was the decreasing use of the language in day-to-day interaction. “With more and more people using English these days — as it has become the language of the corporate people — Indian languages, including Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi, are at a risk of loosing their identity.”

“Also, it is important that writers keep coming up with Punjabi literature because once we have literature, it can be translated into various languages for people to understand. Punjabi literature will help people living in other countries in learning more about our culture.” she said.

Source: The Tribune

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