Sikh Heritage in Pakistan
Pakistan is proud to be cradle of Sikh heritage. After Mughals downfall in Indian sub-continent the Sikhs took over India and ruled here for about two decades and during their era there were lot of new additions into the Indian history which are quite visible if we concentrate a little on it. There are endless monuments, havelis, forts and Gurdwaras which are now part of the major landmarks of Pakistan.
Jamrud fort is one of the old forts built by Sikhs, the fort at the main gateway to India (Khyber Pass) which was known as the first defense for India. There are also other forts in Shabqadar, Lockhart, Balahisar Fort, fort in Bara, Michni, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Haripur, Mansehra and Oghi. Some of the Sikh ruins at Khairabad, AkoraKhattak and Jehangira forts are still to be explored which were built by Sikhs.
One can also witness the famed March 14, 1823 battle of Nowshera and located Samadh of BhaiPhoola Singh Akali, a general of the Sikh Army who fell in the battle and was cremated on the site located near the northern bank of Kabul River at PirSabak.
As a matter of fact the preservation of the Sikh heritage sites would also benefit Pakistan. “It would be great service to tourism industry of Pakistan, if all the Sikh heritage sites here documented and put on the tourist map of the world. Every year thousands of Sikh yatris come to Panja Sahib and Nankana Sahib. It is my wish that these yatris should also visit sites of military, historic and religious significance for Sikhs when they are in Pakistan. This will boost tourism and help the Sikhs to know about these places and strengthen their identity,” and will also play a vital role to enhance friendship between India and Pakistan. I have a strong belief that this is our shared heritage and not just for the Sikhs of Pakistan or India but for Sikhs globally.
It is deplored that there is a lot of propaganda about the security situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or elsewhere in Pakistan. I have guided many Sikh pilgrimage tours here but the pilgrims found security situation satisfactory. The people are kind and hospitable. But it is strange that there is negative impression about this country in the outside world that needs to be dispelled which is only possible if more and more Sikh community come to see their heritage to Pakistan.