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Pakistan’s 2009 truce gave free hand to collect jizya

March 1, 2010

I don’t normally post twice a day, but this follow-up to the tragic beheading of three Sikhs in Pakistan deserves immediate dissemination.  New details are emerging about how the government of Pakistan has endorsed the collection of jizya by “militants” (ie, the Taliban).  From the Sikh News Network today:

Media reports of Jasper Singh’s beheading did not give any accounts of the attempted conversion. It wasn’t until the commission [United States Commission for International Religious Freedom] examined the news release that it made a stern statement.

“The Pakistani government must energetically investigate this crime and ensure that the murders are brought to justice,” Thames [Knox Thames, policy director of the commission] said by email. “The protection of Pakistani Sikhs and other religious minorities is critical, and no Pakistani, regardless of religion, should have to live in fear.”

The commission is charged with promoting and monitoring religious freedom issues abroad, and makes foreign policy recommendations to the president and Congress.

The State Department would not comment on this incident, but said it “condemns all inhumane acts by the Taliban.”

The Pakistani embassy in Washington, however, maintains that the Taliban killed Jasper Singh because his family could not pay the ransom, and that it had no evidence of forced conversions.

“I have not heard anything about it (forced conversions),” said Nader Kiang, spokesman for the Pakistani embassy. “It (extortion) has been happening to other people in the boarder region. It has no relevance for any people’s religion.” Non-Muslims are kidnapped for ransom, but are often released after paying Rest. 1,000 PKR, he added.

This is jizya – a tax on non-Muslims. The jizya tax is typically Rest. 1,000 PKR ($12 USD) per man, per year, which businessmen can afford. But the ransoms have been insurmountable. In a letter that was found on Jasper Singh’s body, the Taliban demanded Rest. 20 million PKR ($235,000 USD) for the lives of the other two Sikhs.

The letter also warned relatives and the Sikh community against approaching the media about the details of the killing, or face suicide attacks. But the news was out even before the body was brought back to Peshawar. At first the international media reported that two or even three Sikhs were killed, but it is now saying that the second and third person have not been confirmed.

“They (Taliban) wanted the news out to create fear,” Kulim Singh [president of United Sikhs in America] said. “This is a lawless land. The biggest thing to survive is to create an atmosphere of fear among minorities, and create international news.

“Everything started with jizya, which was allowed last summer” as part of the truce between the Pakistani government and the militants in the tribal belt, he said (emphasis mine). “The killing shows a different indication of security. We have a letter (from the Taliban), and we’re telling the story from the family and friends.”

4 comments

  1. […] minorities in Pakistan.  Money Jihad has covered the imposition of the jizya on the Sikhs before (here, here, here, and here) but what caught my attention was the unprecedented detail that this post […]


  2. […] government of Pakistan and militants in the tribal belt that resulted in the imposition of jizya against Sikhs in that country in […]


  3. […] two decades, during which time it has been collected mostly by non-state actors, but sometimes with government approval right up to the present […]


  4. […] decades, during which time it has been collected mostly by non-state actors, but sometimes with government approval right up to the present […]



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