Pakistan gets first Sikh minister in Punjab province

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Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora, an influential minority leader, who has been sworn-in as a provincial minister in Pakistan, making him the first Sikh to occupy a ministerial position in post-partition Punjab.

Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora, an influential minority leader, who has been sworn-in as a provincial minister in Pakistan, making him the first Sikh to occupy a ministerial position in post-partition Punjab.
| Photo Credit: PTI

Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora, an influential minority leader, has been sworn in as a provincial minister, making him the first Sikh to occupy a ministerial position in post-partition Punjab.

Belonging to the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, Mr. Arora has returned to the Lahore provincial assembly for the third term after winning the February 8 polls.

Mr. Arora, 49, was recently elected Pardhan (president) of the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee and also as the ambassador to the Kartarpur Corridor.

He was administered the oath along with 17 others on Wednesday.

Mr. Arora has been allotted the portfolio of minorities of Punjab province in the cabinet of Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, incidentally, also the first woman to hold the post in the country.

According to sources, Mr. Arora has close connections with the military establishment.

“Singh’s brother is also looking after the affairs of the Karatarpur Corridor,” another member representing the Christian minority community of Punjab, Khalil Tahir Sindhu told Press Trust of India on Thursday.

Born on October 11, 1974 at Nankana Sahib and hailing from the Narowal district, Mr. Arora was also the first-ever Sikh member of the Punjab provincial assembly taking oath in 2013. He has done post-graduation in social enterprise and studied at the Government College, Lahore, Punjab University, Lahore and Harvard Business School in the US.

He also served as a member of the National Commission for Minorities, chairman of the Standing Committee on Commerce & Investment and remained as Patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Sikh Council.

According to Mr. Arora’s profile on the official website of the Punjab Provincial Assembly, he is also a renowned human rights activist and a social worker, who played a prominent role in protecting the rights of Sikh Community in Pakistan and is credited with the passage of ‘The Punjab Sikh Anand Karaj Marriage Act 2018.’ Due to his efforts, Pakistan has become the first country where the Sikh Marriages Registration Act is enforced, it said.

He also served as a member of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Government of Punjab; as a Member of the National Commission for Minorities, under the Ministry of National Harmony from 2011-13; and as General Secretary of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee during 2009-13.

He was awarded the National Human Rights Award in 2016 by the President of Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Mr. Sindhu was among the 17 others who too were inducted into the Punjab cabinet. He was assigned the portfolio of human rights.

Mr. Sindhu had earlier served as a minister in the 2013-18 Punjab cabinet led by Shehbaz Sharif, who is now the prime minister for the second term.



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