ISLAMABAD: Dozens of baton-holding protestors from the Sikh community pushed past the front gate and entered the grounds of parliament on Friday, protesting recent attacks on their houses of worship.

Sikhs from Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province had gathered outside parliament to protest against what they claimed was the alleged desecration in Shikarpur of Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikh community.

Sikhs are a tiny minority in predominantly Muslim Pakistan, with most of them living in the southern Sindh province.

Senior police officer Aftab Cheema said the Sikh leaders were also protesting against several attacks on their worship places in Sindh.

The protestors demanded that the minority community be given protection to practice their religion. They demanded that the government register all their religious sites and places of worship, similar to mosques, and install CCTV cameras for surveillance and security.

The Sikhs briefly staged a sit-in on parliament’s lawns, police said, before government representatives – which included PML-N lawmakers Syed Zafar Ali Shah and Ramesh Kumar – held negotiations with them.

After successful negotiations, the protestors left the grounds of parliament peacefully.

According to sources, the Leader of the House in the Senate, Raja Zafarul Haq has spoken to Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah, asking him to provide better protection to the Sikh community and their places of worship.

Police officer Cheema said investigators would look into how protesters made it past the gate.

NA Speaker takes notice

Acting Speaker National Assembly, Murtaza Javed Abbasi, took serious notice of the failure of Islamabad Police to stop protesters from entering into the precinct of the Parliament House.

The acting Speaker has sought a report from the Ministry of Interior and Inspector General Police into the incident.

Abbassi termed the incident a failure and incompetence of the capital police which, he said, has failed to devise any strategy in this regard.

He directed the interior ministry to enquire into the incident and take appropriate action against those responsible.

—with additional reporting by Irfan Haider from Islamabad


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