Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sikh woman, man fight against former mujahideen in Aghanistan polls

A Sikh woman Dr Anarkali Kaur Honaryar is contesting election as an independent candidate in the election for the lower house of Afghanistan's parliament.

Dr Honaryar, a dentist, is fighting the election against a former mujahideen commander. A rights activist, who is known for championing the cause of woman, Anarkali Kaur is a well-known face in the country of her birth [Afghanistan] as well as abroad for her works in the field of education and women's rights.

Apart from her, another Sikh, Pritpal Singh Pal, who runs a medical shop, is also in the fray in Kabul. Indian Express journalist Aashish Jethra reports that Anarkali and Pal are running for positions in Afhganistan's Wolesi Jirga, the 250-seat lower house of parliament, for which elections are scheduled on September 18.

The posters of Sikh candidates during election campaign in Kabul speaks volumes about the resilience of the community. Jethra's story with the accompanying photograph on the left appeared in the Indian Express on August 23.

The Sikh diaspora is an amazing phenomenon and much before other Indian communities, the hardworking & enterprising Sikhs had reached the shores of America, Canada and Britian.

That the Sikhs not just survived the Taliban era and the US-led bombings but also the economically harsh conditions in the war-ravaged country, is no less than a wonder.

Now the Sikhs, despite their small population in the country, are playing an important part in building the Afghan society and this is best illustrated by the example of Kaur and Pal.

All the Sikhs in Afghanistan are not migrants from Indian Punjab. In fact, there are Sikh families who have been here since ages. Till recently Sikhs ran businesses in Kandahar, Kabul and other
major cities.

It is noteworthy that Sikhs have been part of Afghani culture since ages. Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who ruled large parts of Punjab and Kashmir, had his empire stretching up to the boundaries of modern Afghanistan.

Anarkali Honaryar wanted to become a pilot but then became a doctor. She was part of the Loya Jirga that elected the interim government after the Taliban-regime in Kabul. Radio Free Europe's Afghanistan chapter gave her the Person of the Year Award in the year 2009.