Pak dismisses India's concerns on Sikhs' treatment by Taliban | india | Hindustan Times
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Pak dismisses India's concerns on Sikhs' treatment by Taliban

india Updated: May 02, 2009 14:06 IST
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Pakistan today dismissed the unhappiness expressed by India about the Taliban imposing tax on Sikhs and demolishing their homes in the restive tribal belt, saying the issue was of "no concern" to New Delhi.

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said Pakistan had responded to India's "verbal demarche" on the issue by making it clear that the Sikhs in this country are Pakistani citizens and are of "no concern of India."

"Pakistan is fully cognisant of the issue of the Sikhs and of the welfare of all its citizens, especially the minorities," Basit told PTI.

Diplomatic sources said the issue of Sikhs being forced out of their homes in Pakistan's Aurakzai tribal agency after they failed to pay 'jiziya' or tax imposed on non-Muslims was taken up on Friday with the Foreign Office by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

It was also taken up with the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi by the External Affairs Ministry.

The Indian side was told by the Pakistanis that it "need not worry about the Sikhs" and that the move was "tantamount to interfering in Pakistan's internal affairs," the sources said.

External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said in New Delhi on Friday that the Indian government had taken up the "treatment of minorities in Pakistan with the government of Pakistan" after seeing reports of Sikh families being driven out of their homes and subjected to payment of 'jiziya'.

Dozens of Sikhs have left their homes in Aurakzai agency after the Taliban occupied or destroyed their houses and shops in the wake of the minority community failing to pay jiziya of Rs 50 million a year that was demanded by the militants. Reports said the Sikhs from the region had moved to Hasanabdal, which has a sizeable population of the community.

Sikhs have been living in Aurakzai agency for centuries and most members of the community were running petty businesses in the area.