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6 Jan, 2020 09:18

Not his ‘vision’ for Pakistan: Imran Khan condemns violence at Sikh shrine

Not his ‘vision’ for Pakistan: Imran Khan condemns violence at Sikh shrine

Prime Minister Imran Khan has denounced a violent altercation that occurred at a Sikh holy site in Pakistan, stressing that his government would not tolerate sectarian strife in the country.

Writing on Twitter, Khan said the incident outside the Gurdwara Janam Asthan in Nankana Sahib was “condemnable” and “goes against [his] vision”. He said Islamabad had “zero tolerance” for such actions, and that perpetrators of religion-fueled violence would not receive sympathy from the police or judiciary.

He said that his position on the matter stands in sharp contrast to how India treats religious minorities, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of oppressing Muslims. These allegations come amid tensions in India over new citizenship legislation. 

The Indian government insists that a new law will help six religious minorities from three neighboring countries to obtain citizenship easily, while Muslims have accused it of being discriminatory against them. Modi has repeatedly denied that his government holds any discriminatory views, and has stressed that all religions are tolerated in India.

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The shrine, built on the site where the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev, was believed to be born, was surrounded by dozens of angry Muslim protesters on Friday. The anger, apparently fueled by a family conflict, reportedly led the mob to chant anti-Sikh slogans and throw rocks at pilgrims.

Pakistan’s interior minister Ijaz Ahmad Shah said the Sikh site was an example of peaceful coexistence, and that the unrest was sparked by a “select few.”

“When you live together, conflict also tends to arise,” he told reporters at a press conference.

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The man accused of inciting the violence was arrested by police on Sunday. He reportedly targeted the holy site after his brother was accused of abducting a Sikh girl.

The altercation sparked demonstrations by several Sikh groups at the Pakistani diplomatic mission in New Delhi. India’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also condemned the actions of the Muslim protesters, calling on the Pakistani government “to take immediate steps to ensure the safety, security, and welfare of members of the Sikh community”.

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