Kabul, Afghanistan: Afghan Sikh leader S. Avtar Singh Khalsa is almost all set to represent the Sikh as well as Hindu minorities in the next parliament of Afghanistan. At present, only 1000 Sikhs are currently living in Afghanistan as thousands of Afghan Sikhs had to emigrate due to war ravaged conditions of Afghanistan.
The 52 years old S. Avtar Singh Khalsa has already served as a senator representing the minority in Afghanistan.
Khalsa, a Sikh and long-time leader of the community, will run unopposed for a seat in the lower house of parliament that was apportioned to the minority by presidential decree in 2016. After the October election, he will be a solitary voice among 259 legislators, but hopes his 10 years of service in the Afghan army can help him secure a seat on the defense and security committee.
“I don’t only want to serve my Sikh and Hindu brothers. I have to be able to serve all the Afghan people, no matter which ethnicity or group they belong to. Our services must reach everyone,” he said.
Khalsa will join parliament at a time when the Afghan government is struggling against a resurgent Taliban and an Islamic State affiliate. The Taliban have seized a number of districts across the country, and IS has carried out a wave of attacks in recent months targeting the country’s Shiite Muslims, another embattled minority.
Sikhs and Hindus would face renewed persecution under the Taliban and wholesale slaughter at the hands of the more radical IS. But Khalsa said he has no plans to leave the country and will continue to fight for his community’s survival.
“I sacrifice myself for those of my brothers who have been through all kinds of pain and suffering,” he says while adding that he doesn’t care if he lose his whole family or get killed for this cause.