You are thinking, "what the heck are you talking about?" I agree that it was too long a preface for a short blog-post. So, here it is.
I was reading this in the Wall Street Journal (ah, how this should thrill my socialist colleagues!) about the few Sikhs and Hindus left in Afghanistan feeling increasingly insecure about their lives there and, therefore, exiting the troubled nation. Which is when I was reminded of a Sikh who was a candidate in the Afghan elections. So, I tracked that down--it is a post from September 2010 in which I quoted one of them, Pritpal Singh Pal:
Pal says it is a common misconception that all Afghan Sikhs and Hindus are Punjabis who moved to Afghanistan from India years ago. In fact, many members of this community consider themselves to be the original Afghans who never converted to Islam. And this sense of rootedness only gives their pursuit of governmental representation in Afghanistan more zeal....It was heart-warming to read about Sikh candidates in Afghanistan and their patriotism and rootedness. And now I am depressed reading that WSJ piece:
Otar Singh, the head of Afghanistan’s Hindu and Sikh community and a former member of parliament, said conditions are worse under Afghanistan’s democratic government than they were during the Taliban’s severe rule in the late 1990s, when the minority group had to wear yellow arm bands that singled them out as second-class citizens.Makes me want to echo that line from Rodney King: "Can we all just get along?"
“Under the Taliban our rights were clearly defined, and people were not cruel to us,” he said.
What the hell is wrong with us humans, right? We are so fixated on what makes us different. Language, religion, skin pigmentation, ... seriously?
Since last spring, around 400 more Sikhs and Hindus have left, according to community leaders. Most joined the swelling Afghan community in India, their spiritual home, while some turned to people-smugglers in a bid to reach the West.How terrible!
Such voyages have ended tragically. In August, 35 Afghan Sikhs of all ages were discovered in a ship’s cargo container in the British port town of Tilbury. One of the migrants, a man, was found dead. The U.K. government is currently considering the asylum applications of the others, said a spokeswoman for the British Embassy in Kabul.
Despite the challenges, Rawail Singh, the community leader, says he is proud of being Afghan. “I love Afghanistan because it’s my country. We Sikhs and Hindus aren’t from somewhere else,” he said. “This is where we belong.”I wish them well.
I will end this with the same video that I had embedded in that September 2010 post, which features a popular Bollywood actor who was of Pashtun stock himself: