Pakistan – UNITED SIKHS Blog Recognize The Human Race As One Tue, 28 Nov 2017 14:31:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Pak-Afghan Earthquake Relief: UNITED SIKHS Provides Aid to 400 Families Tue, 17 Nov 2015 17:19:17 +0000

Left: UNITED SIKHS distributing food package to affected families in Shangla, Pakistan. Right: Volunteers packing and preparing aid packages.

Peshawar, Pakistan:–On November 8th, 2015, UNITED SIKHS launched the Pak-Afghan Earthquake Relief Effort to provide aid and assistance to individuals affected by one of the strongest earthquakes the region has ever seen.

On October 26, 2015, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake rocked Afghanistan. Deadly tremors were felt in Pakistan, with the majority of victims from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province located in the northwestern region of the country. The death toll in Pakistan has reached 300, and more than 3,000 are injured. 74,885 houses and 497 schools have been damaged, and 29,162 houses completely destroyed.



Left: UNITED SIKHS volunteer Ravi Singh visiting the site of destroyed houses in Shangla. Right: Homeless children describing the quake that destroyed their home.

Click here for videos and photos of the Pak-Afghan Relief Effort.

Relief Effort Launched:

The relief effort began in the Shangla district of KPK, which is one of the districts most devastated by the earthquake. 50 individuals were killed in Shangla, and over 200 were injured. 22,000 houses and 143 schools were also either damaged or completely destroyed in this district. UNITED SIKHS has distributed 400 food packages to 400 families in this region.

By making a donation of $25.00, you can sponsor a aid package for a family. Each food package provides a family of six with two meals per individual for 10 days, with each meal costing $0.20. The packages contain the following items:

From the Ground:

“After traveling 12 hours by truck and 8 hours by flying coach van on Sunday, November 8, our team reached the Shangla district of KPK. During distribution, I met a family with two children whose home was completely destroyed and who were spending nights under the open sky and in cold weather. Upon receiving food aid from us, they were very pleased,” said Herdyal Singh, UNITED SIKHS Project Coordinator in Pakistan. He further added that relief work will expand to Afghanistan after security clearance.

UNITED SIKHS volunteers spoke to the Assistant Commissioner of Shangla, who stated, “First of all, I am thankful to UNITED SIKHS, who is providing relief aid to earthquake victims, where people are in dire need of emergency aid like food. I hope they continue to support our people. Shangla is a district of KPK which has been more affected than most in the KPK province. The people have taken shelter in camps, and some are living under the open sky and facing cold weather. We really need to come forward to help these people so that they can survive on their own in the future.”

UNITED SIKHS volunteers spoke to the Assistant Commissioner of Shangla, who stated, “First of all, I am thankful to UNITED SIKHS, who is providing relief aid to earthquake victims, where people are in dire need of emergency aid like food. I hope they continue to  support our people.  Shangla is a district of KPK which has been more affected than most in the KPK province. The people have taken shelter in camps, and some are living under the open sky and facing cold weather. We really need to come forward to help these people so that they can survive on their own in the future.”

UNITED SIKHS plans to distribute more relief packs to families in need in affected areas. Each pack will cost 2,000 Pakistani Rupees, or  USD 25.00, and will contain rice and other foodstuffs. Packages will be distributed in the Swat, Dir, and Bunner districts of  Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan. Please donate today to help us provide aid to those in need.

Click here see UNITED SIKHS’ previous work in Pakistan.  Interviews of affected Pakistani families may be viewed here.

Keep up to date on UNITED SIKHS’ humanitarian work and our other initiatives by following our social media accounts: Facebook Twitter Blog

Blast kills 16 Pakistan cadets; NATO trucks bombed Wed, 02 Sep 2009 05:36:52 +0000

30th August, 2009: Islamabad, Pakistan: Amardeep Singh and Navjit Singh, reporting from Peshawar:  Aid work continues, we have just returned after distributing aid to 105 Christian families at Gojra, district Toba Tek Singh.  The below incident has raised high security alert.  More on the aid distribution to the Christian families, later…..

Blast kills 16 Pakistan cadets; NATO trucks bombed

ISLAMABAD – Bombings targeted a Pakistani police station and set a NATO fuel convoy ablaze Sunday, killing 16 cadets in the northwest’s Swat Valley and threatening the supply line to international forces in Afghanistan in a separate attack near the border.

The two blasts hours apart and hundreds of miles from each other came as Pakistani officials said the Taliban were ramping up strikes to avenge recent setbacks, including the loss of territory to the military and the death of their top leader in a CIA missile strike near the Afghan border.

Pakistan’s military has in recent months intensified its fight against the al-Qaida-linked extremists, who threaten stability in the nuclear-armed nation and are suspected of helping plot attacks against U.S. and NATO troops across the border in Afghanistan.

At least 16 cadets died Sunday after a suicide bomber sneaked into the courtyard where they were training in Swat’s main town of Mingora and detonated his explosives, local government official Atifur Rehman said. It was the deadliest attack since an army offensive ended Taliban rule there.

Investigators later sifted through the blackened wreckage in the courtyard littered with body parts, shredded uniforms and police berets.

Authorities were looking into reports the attacker may have donned a uniform and slipped into the station posing as one of the dozens of recruits, Deputy Inspector General Idrees Khan of the district police said.

“We are investigating whether the bomber climbed over the wall of the police station, or whether he was already present among the police cadets,” Khan said. He blamed the attack on a decision to relax a daily curfew in the area for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and police quickly blocked off roads and ordered residents back indoors.

The army’s offensive to take back the area was its largest in years after periodic peace deals with the militants. The Taliban’s takeover of parts of Swat, a former tourist enclave, about two years ago became a symbol of their expansion in the mostly Muslim country of 175 million.

Pakistan’s army says it is restoring order to the valley and surrounding areas, but Sunday’s attack indicated that while the Taliban may no longer be able to impose their harsh interpretation of Islam there, life is far from normal for the hundreds of thousands who are now returning after fleeing the army’s fierce three months of fighting to wrest back control.

Provincial minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour blamed the Taliban for the suicide attack and said Pakistanis must be “mentally prepared” for more bombings until the Taliban are crushed.

The Pakistani Taliban have vowed revenge after the loss of Swat and the death of their top leader, Baitullah Mehsud, in a CIA missile strike Aug. 5 further west near the Afghan border. At least 40 U.S. drones have fired missiles into Pakistan’s lawless border areas, targeting militant leaders believed to threaten the war effort in Afghanistan.

The other blast Sunday ripped through a line of trucks ferrying fuel to NATO troops in Afghanistan, setting several oil tankers ablaze at a backed-up border crossing in southwestern Baluchistan province, police said.

The blast appeared to be the second terrorist attack in a week to target a border crossing.

Local police chief Hasan Sardar said flames and smoke were billowing into the sky Sunday night as authorities struggled to control the blaze near the Chaman border crossing in Baluchistan province in Pakistan’s southwest.

“It was a big explosion under one of the oil tankers that caused other vehicles to catch fire. The fire is spreading,” Sardar told The Associated Press by phone.

“We are at the moment trying our best to control the blaze. We are not sure whether there is any human loss,” he said. “It is just panic everywhere there.”

Police officer Gul Mohammad said from the scene that a bomb was suspected. He said security officials had earlier found and defused another explosive device lying near one of the NATO tankers.

“This was another bomb, which we could not find in our earlier search, that exploded,” Mohammad told the AP.

An eyewitness, Haji Mahmood, said he saw some men in a car and two on a motorcycle spraying the vehicles with a volley of bullets before the blast.

“The two men abandoned their motorcycle and escaped in the car,” Mahmood said.

Chaman is one of two main crossing points for supplies for American and NATO troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. The foreign troops get about 75 percent of their supplies through Pakistan.

Some 1,000 trucks, many of them NATO tankers, were backed up on the road leading to the border because the Chaman crossing had been closed for two days in a dispute between customs officials over fruit inspections, police officer Abdul Rauf said. Afghan officials closed the border on Saturday in retaliation for lengthy inspections by Pakistani customs that were holding up Afghan trucks carrying grapes and pomegranates, he said.

Rauf said that he heard the explosion and saw at least three oil tankers, two container trucks and two dump trucks on fire.

Another suicide bombing Thursday killed at least 19 guards further north at the Torkham border crossing, the other main route into Afghanistan and gateway to the famed Khyber Pass.


Associated Press Writer Matiullah Achakzai in Chaman contributed to this report.

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Sikhs of Peshwar Break their Silence. UNITED SIKHS steps up Advocacy Wed, 15 Jul 2009 18:51:53 +0000 sikhsinpeshwargurd16th of July 2009, Pesahwar,  Pakistan:   In the third visit to meet the Sikhs in Peshawar the Sikhs broke out their silence of their situation and gave a detailed saga of the kidnapping of  Kalyan Singh.

Displacement of Sikhs from Orakzai and Kurram Agency:
See video:
Currently approximately 700  Sikh families live in Peshawar.  95% of the Sikh families are Amritdhari Sikhs.  After the war with Taliban 12 families from Orakzai Agency and one from district Bunair took shelter at Bhai Joga Singh Gurdwara in Peshawar. These families were accommodated to the homes of the Sikhs in Peshawar with their relatives  and friends. The affected people came in just their dress’s that they were wearing.  The Sikhs from Orakzai Agency left because of the kidnapping of Kalyan Singh by the Taliban.

Kidnapping of Kalyan Singh:

Kalyan Singh is aged around 75 and has 4 children.  The Taliban asked them to pay Rs 5.20 crores (PKR). Going to the police is useless as they are not affective against the Taliban by any means. Even the local tribesmen of Orakzai who were to give protection to the minorities were no match to the Taliban. The Sikhs argued and settled for a minimal amount of Rs 60 lakhs. This money came collectively from the Orakzai Sikhs, the Sikhs from Peshawar, Gurdwara Saheb Bhai Joga Singh Peshawar, and the Muslim community (as an interest free loan) who knew the Sikh families from Orakzai.  All the local Sikh families were asked to collect together and their elder representative was asked to meet with the appointed Taliban commander-in-charge. Kalyan Singh was selected and asked to represent them.  Three  demands were placed to Kalyan Singh, to be placed to the Sikh community of Orakazai.

1) Convert to Islam, 2) Fight the Taliban, 3) Pay a yearly tax, also referred to as Jaziya for the minorities

Initially the Sikh families outrightly rejected all the three demands. In retaliation the Taliban kidnapped Kalyan Singh, right after the meeting, and he was held in their captivity for 16 days.  Being an Amritdhari Sikh, Kalyan Singh didn’t eat food for 3 days, after which he was allowed cooked food from his home.

Escape of Mr Kalyan Singh and the Sikhs from Orakzai
On not getting the 60 lakhs, the Taliban on the request of the local Muslims, allowed Kalyan Singh to go home and payback the remaining amount of 40 lakhs.  Kalyan Singh was informed that in case the Sikhs refused to pay this amount, their homes would be broken, the male Sikh members would be killed and their women would become their property. Kalyan Singh knew that they would not be able to pay the remaining amount and hence fled with the other Sikhs from Orakzai with the only belongings being the clothes that  they were wearing,  their immediate belongings that they could gather, their holy books (gutkas), and the Guru Granth Saheb Ji (Parkash at home) to Peshwar. The Sikh families reached Peshawar at 5 am in the morning, after an arduous 8 hour journey, travelling through off roads.

Problems currently faced by them and advocacy requirements met by UNITED SIKHS

The Sikhs fear of going back to the Orakzai Agency as they are afraid that the Taliban who will hide high in the mountains and escape from the war will come back and ask them for the remaining amount. Since they have never seen any state governance offering protection, today, their minds are not to go back to Orakazai. The feedback they have received is that their home goods have been auctioned and their homes broken.  The army has started its operations just a few days back in Orakzai Agency.  The Orakzai Sikhs and the Kurram Agency Sikhs were not even considered as Internally Displaced People (IDP) by the local government. In other words, these displaced, jobless Sikhs from Orakzai are caught in a state where they don’t know what their classification would be. UNITED SIKHS met with the Ministry of Population of Welfare, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and the CEO of NATPOW and have been promised that this would be looked into. UNITED SIKHS has also written to the Minister of Minority Affairs in Pakistan and will advocate for their cause to be recognized and will assist in speeding up their registration process with the government agency.

Sandeep Singh
Sikh Aid, Pakistan

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Panja Saheb Gurdwara, a haven for fleeing -Sikhs, Hindus and Christains Sun, 05 Jul 2009 05:29:50 +0000
Medicines delivered at Panja Saheb Gurdwara Saheb

Medicines delivered at Panja Saheb Gurdwara Saheb

4th July 2009, Islamabad, Pakistan:  Stationed currently at Hassan Abdal, Panja Saheb, in Pakistan, UNITED SIKHS volunteers surveyed the Internally displaced people (IDPs) at the Hassan Abdal-Panja Saheb camp of their needs. The immediate need was to provide medicines for chronic patients suffering from diabetes, respiratory issues and heart related problems. UNITED SIKHS volunteers delivered the medicines for chronic patients for 1 month. These were requested by the Suaran Singh, the IDP camp coordinator.  Suaran Singh, said, “I thank the diaspora who is assisting us through UNITED SIKHS for the medicines that have been provided.I fear what will happen after a month and if we still remain here, how do we get more medicines  for the suffering patients.”   The WAKF board has provided a dispensary with a local doctor, Mr Mohammed Ali, on site, and a lady doctor who visit the local dispensary on site, but not the medicines that are for chronic patients.  The relief efforts will continue and will be only possible with your kind donations. 


Medicines supplied by UNITED SIKHS at Panja Saheb Gurdwara

Medicines supplied by UNITED SIKHS at Panja Saheb Gurdwara

There were 2 small water filtering and cooling  (WF&C) units  at the Gurdwara Panja Saheb.  Each WF&C has 2 compressors  that helps to filter and cool the water.   The compressor was not working
Compressor details

Compressor details

The working of these 2 compressors was very important as told to me by the IDP coordinator Mr Suaran Singh. Most of the gastroentritis  problems were due to the water not getting filtered.  So the idea was to fix the problem at the root.  Keep in mind that there are close to 3600 – 4000 people at the Gurdwara Saheb that drink water from these filtering units. 

And as you can imagine, many can’t wait in the queue, and hence chose to drink the water coming in directly from spring which gets contaminated while flowing through the pipe and also its contamination has increased because of the pipe that take the dirty water after the Ishnaan (bathe), in the neighboring “Jana Ghar”  (where women take the holy dip in the Sarovar Saheb)  is blocked and this water turns back and flows into where the source of the spring.  There is an urgent need to establish a filtering plant right above the source or to provide a better efficient water filteration plant that can flow into a better distribution system. But for the time being people are using the 2 small water filteration plants who’s compressors are now fixed. The cost of the filteration plant is between 12 lakhs PKR – 16 lakhs PKR. The Sangat has requested us to see if this can be provided. This can only happen if the Sangat can donate so that this can be bought with the Gurdwara Management and assist in getting this done.
Sundeep Singh
Sikh Aid Coordinator
Islamabad, Pakistan

Displaced Sikhs from Orakzai Agency and now in Peshawar-2 Sat, 04 Jul 2009 21:20:26 +0000
Residents of Peshawar with Displaced members at the Bhai Joga Singh Gurdwara

Residents of Peshawar with Displaced members at the Bhai Joga Singh Gurdwara

June  27, 2009, Islamabad, Pakistan: These are some of the major issues that the displaced Sikhs from the Orakzai Agency are facing

1) The Sikhs displaced from the Orakzai Agency are not referred to  as IDPs as the Military hasn’t started the operations in Orakzai Agency as said to us by Herdiyal Singh from Peshawar. 

2) The 12 Sikh families who have fled from the Taliban have found shelter with the Sikhs in Peshawar and one family from Buner is also here in Peshawar.  All the 13 families have no idea as to when they will be heading back to Orakzai. Especially the students don’t know what their future will be. Many of them are looking for ways to come abroad to the western countries for higher education as they have the qualifications and degrees but don’t see a bright future

Sikhs in Peshawar at the Bhai Joga Singh Gurdwara Saheb

Sikhs in Peshawar at the Bhai Joga Singh Gurdwara Saheb

We will be working with the cooperating Pakistani Government to assist the families in their resettlement phase, which began the day they were dislocated.  The Pakistani government has been cooperative in providing the answers, at least till now. The burden at this stage on them is big enough, as despite the war, there is the rehabilitation aspect in parallel.

Gurdwara Committee member Rajendar Singh at Peshwara Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh

Gurdwara Committee member Rajendar Singh at Peshawar Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh

I reiterate, there is an urgent need for volunteer doctors who can come here and work at UNITED SIKHS Sikh Aid, Camp Islamabad.

Sundeep Singh

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Conditions at the Camps in Pakistan Fri, 03 Jul 2009 08:08:46 +0000 Camp Close shot

Camp Close shot

26th June 2009, Islamabad:  Conditions at the camp are detoriating because of the change in weather and the coming in of the monsoons. There is an increase in the cases of snake and scorpion bites.  Visiting the camp sites with the team of local doctors from NATPOW, the cases reported indicate an increase in people requesting for medicines suffering from scabies, malaria, insect bites, diarrhoea. The possibilies of an epedemic is imminent. The officials at the camp have said that water-logged camps would not get flooeded with water.  The situation is aggravated by the fact that there are insufficient female doctors to treat children and women, who refuse to be attended to by men.  The chaos of the early days has begun to dissipate and better facilities have been organized. The efforts of philanthropists who continue to offer up help in terms of food and other supplies to the IDPs are also quite remarkable.

The cluster for nutrition setup by UNICEF is meeting on Tuesday 7th July in Islamabad to discuss the precautions to be taken by NGOs to better tackle the current building scenario.


Sundeep Singh
27th June 2009
SikhAid Camp-Islamabad

Displaced Sikhs from Orakzai Agency and now in Peshawar -1 Thu, 02 Jul 2009 06:57:00 +0000
Orakzai Agency
Focus on Orakzai Agency

  06/27/2009: Peshawar, Pakistan: Peshawar falls under the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Area), bordering Afghanistan, and is one of the 6 frontiers in FATA, and is the capital of North West Frontier Provice (NWFP).  
The Internally Displaced Sikhs don’t stay in the Bhai Joga Singh Peshawar Gurdwara, which is located in a town called as Dabgarhi in Peshawar. There are 2 Khalsa schools that cater around 600+ Sikh children.

99% of Sikhs from Peshawar are Amrtidhari Sikhs. Their family model is that of an extended family and the average family size is of 8 members. Most of the Sikhs are businessmen, as clothe merchants or grocery store owners. Every evening they get together at the Gurdwara Saheb for daily prayers and are there from 7:00pm – 10:30pm. 


Sikhs in Bhai Joga Singh Gurdwara

Sikhs in Bhai Joga Singh Gurdwara

 The people are in state of shock with the coming of the Taliban and the way their lives have been disturbed. Their primary need is for funds so that they can rebuild their lives. Some of them don’t want to go back to their regions in fear of the Taliban, thinking that they will come back after the ongoing war by hiding now in the mountains.

After meeting Kalyan Singh, a soft spoken, elderly Sikh around 60+ years, I realized that he is the one who was kidnapped by the Taliban from the Orakzai Agency. His son, Herdiyal Singh, a certified accounting technician,  spoke at length and gave his inside account of how this took place.

Orkazai Agency is situated in the middle of all Agencies. There is one tribe in upper Orkazai Agency which is called Feroz Khel Tribe. Herdiyal Singh, said, ” Some Taliban came from South Wazirstan and increased their strength day by day. They occupied the whole place of Feroz Khel .One day the Taliban called the Sikh community of Feroz Khel to come to their center for negotiation. They took my Father Kalyan Singh to a room as a leader of Sikh community. The other Sikh community was waiting outside but he did not come out. On asking why my father is not coming out of the room, the response was that he couldn’t come out until you will not accept our demands.”

 There were 3 demands placed before the Sikh community  placed three demands before the Sikh community.
1. Accept Islam, 2. Jehad (Fight) with us, 3. Islamic Tax

 Herdiyal said, “We rejected all the demands, but then the Taliban said that they will carry by father to South Wazirastan and kill him there. We had no choice. We accepted the third one. I don’t want my father to undergo Ziba”

I said to them that this is not what the Guru Saheb has taught us. The response I received was that you have to bein out shoe to understand this. The fact whether if they accepted choice 2 and whether equal opportunity would be given was met with a laughter by all. I realized that the laughter synergized the Sikh sentiment of Chardi Kala.

Herdiyal, added, “During at this time they hostaged my father for sixteen days. They demanded 5 Crore rupees, but the Sikh Community was not able to pay this much amount. We also negotiated with local people to reduce this amount. At last the Sikhs agreed to pay 1 Crore and twenty lakh rupees by compulsion.  At first installment we paid 60 lack rupees and they released my father on bill. We collected this amount from Sikhs of Peshawar and paid to Taliban. The other remaining amount we were not able to pay to Taliban. So at night we received a message from some source to leave this place, the Taliban will attack on your houses. We left our houses with whatever luggage we could get at 2 AM.  In the morning they destroyed our house and shop and auctioned all the items in our shop and in our house, which is worth Rs.33 lakh rupees (approximately $41,250). After that we appealed to the government to compensate our losses but still government has not given any financial aid. My education is also effected by this situation. I am not able to continue my education further more. Now I am working in Zareef Khan Foundation funded by AusAID, Australian High Commission and UNESCO, as a volunteer. My designation is Adminstration and as a Finance assistant in this NGO.”
Herdiyal said, “We appeal to the Khalsa Panth globally to assist the Sikhs for rehabilitation. The money given by the Peshawar Sikhs is a loan that we have to return back. We request you to rehabilitate us in the region of Panja Saheb. The details for rehabilitation have been discussed with the UNITED SIKHS members.”

Sundeep Singh
Camp UNITED SIKHS in Islamabad
SikhAid Program Coordinator

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