Spate of attacks shake Pakistan’s dwindling Sikh community

Pakistani and Indian Sikh devotees gather at the Gurdwara Panja Sahib during the annual Vaisakhi festival in Hasan Abdal. PHOTO: AFP

They have come from India, Britain and the Middle East to the Panja Sahib Gurdwara in Hasan Abdal, 55 kilometres from Islamabad, where Guru Nanak, the founder of the religion, is said to have imprinted his hand.

But for Pakistani Sikhs, who mainly live in the north, this year’s celebrations are also a time of healing after six murders during August and September that have left their community in fear.

The 500-year-old religion was founded in what is now part of Pakistan, a Muslim-majority country of nearly 200 million people.

Most Sikhs left Pakistan for India after both countries gained independence from Britain in 1947.

Around 20,000 Sikhs remain in Pakistan today, which has been rocked by militant insurgency for more than a decade, forcing many to leave their homes in the tribal areas on the Afghan border for Peshawar…