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Pakistani Sikh politician forced to flee country after threats by Islamist fundamentalists, says minorities there are under constant threat

Sikh leader Radesh Singh Tony had unsuccessfully contested the 2018 general elections in Pakistan. He is a human rights activist and chairman of the Khalsa Peace and Justice Foundation.

A Pakistani politician, Radesh Singh Tony, has reportedly fled from Pakistan with his family, after being hounded by radical Islamists. On Wednesday, he shared a video stating that his life was under threat and he did what he could to protect his children and family.

Tony had also appealed to the Sikh community abroad to help him rehabilitate to a ‘safe place’. Tony is the Chairman of the Khalsa Peace and Justice Foundation and a human rights activist from Kyber Pakhtunkhwa. He had also unsuccessfully contested the general elections in Pakistan in 2018 as an independent candidate.

The story only received media attention after SAD leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa came out in support of the Pakistani politician. Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh has also tweeted asking the Pakistani government to ensure Tony’s safety. He urged the government to take “immediate steps” for his protection, given that several members of the Sikh community have been persecuted in recent times.

Tony has stated that religious minorities in Pakistan, Sikhs, Hindus and Christians are living under constant threats as Islamist fundamentalists enjoy government support there.

Tony had reportedly been a vocal critic of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf(PTI) government. He was earlier threatened by Islamic fundamentalists and assaulted by two unknown men. As such, Tony was compelled to leave Twitter for a while and migrated to Lahore from Peshawar with his wife and three children, leaving business and property behind. The Pakistani politician was a minority councillor from Kyber Pakhtunkhwa before unsuccessfully contesting for the national assembly as an independent candidate.

Read: Days after Nankana Sahib siege in Pakistan, Sikh man Ravinder Singh murdered in broad daylight

This is not the first time that a prominent member of the Sikh community has been intimidated by radical Islamists in Pakistan. Last year, Baldev Singh, a former member of Imran Khan’s cabinet, had sought asylum in India, owing to ill-treatment. Another Sikh leader, Charanjit Singh was gunned down in Peshawar in May 2018. Recently, the Holy Shrine of Nankana Sahib was attacked by Islamic radicals after the case of forced-conversion of a minor Sikh girl, Jagjeet Kaur.

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