04/23/2016, 19.25
PAKISTAN
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Minority leaders slam murder of Sikh minister who was a friend of the Christians

by Kamran Chaudhry

Two men on motorbikes gunned down their victim. At the start of his mandate as minister, he had asked a bishop for his blessing. Muslims liked him for his welfare work. For one observer, the incident highlights the government’s failure to protect minorities.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Leaders of Pakistan’s minorities, including the country’s Christians, have condemned the murder of Minority Affairs Minister Sardar Soran Singh, the first Sikh in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assembly.

Singh, 46, was killed yesterday in front of his home in Bacha Killay village in the province’s mountainous Buner District.

Gunmen riding on two motorbikes came in front of the car and fired at the minister, killing him instantly. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the murder.

Hundreds of Sikhs attended the minister's funeral.

AsiaNews had interviewed Singh a few weeks ago, on the occasion of the reopening of an ancient Sikh temple in Peshawar, capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Rev Humphrey S. Peters, bishop of the Anglican Church of Pakistan, condemned the killing.

“I feel like someone has snatched away a very benevolent friend.  He used to call me guru (spiritual teacher)”, Bishop Peters said.

“Singh came for a blessing the day after he took office in 2013,” the prelate remembers. “He was very supportive of Christians. Soon we became family friends.”

“He used to visit my home twice a month. Three days before his death, he called me and shared his plans to open an old people’ home”.

For the bishop, Singh's murder highlights the government’s failure.

Guru Nanak Mission Gee president Dr Mimpal Singh called on the authorities to arrest immediately the culprits. "He was a true patriot,” he noted. “Even the Muslim community liked him for his welfare works. We are shocked by his loss."

“Terrorists are targeting everyone,” the Sikh leader added. “We shall not hold street protests but we shall call on the government for protection”.

The Singh murder comes at a time when Pakistan’s Armed Forces are in the last phase of an operation against Taliban militants near the border with Afghanistan.

According to police, at least eight members of the Sikh community have been killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa since 2013.

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