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The Noble 'Servant' of Peshawar




Khurshid Khan, an eminent 60-year-old lawyer and deputy attorney general of Pakistan, wants to "heal the wounds" of the terror-stricken minority Sikh community in that country.

So he does an extraordinary thing at a gurdwara in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

Every day when he completes his work as a legal expert, Khan visits a Sikh gurdwara in the center of the city, wraps a piece of cloth around his head to cover it and thus show his respect, and sits in the doorway to shine the shoes of Sikhs, whose community has come under frequent attack by Taliban militants over the last few years.

[The act of cleaning the shoes of others is, in the culture of the subcontinent, the ultimate act of humilty and repentance.]

Two months back, militants in the Khyber Agency region abducted three Sikhs and demanded a huge ransom for their release. Two were eventually freed. But one, Sardar Jaspal Singh, was killed in a brutal fashion and his corpse left on the roadside in the tribal area.

"I went to offer my condolences to the family of Jaspal Singh and that was a turning point in my life," says Khan. "I realized that as a Pashtun I should work to 'heal their wounds' by becoming their sevaadar (servant). I want to give them a message of love and brotherhood, and that's why every day I am here to shine their shoes."

Khan says he is himself a landlord and doesn't even shine his own shoes at his home. But his cause inspires him to sit on the ground on a daily basis and shine 70 to 80 pairs of shoes.

"I can see the light of love in their eyes for me and my people," he maintains.

He adds that Sikhs have lived in the area with the dominant Pashtun communities for centuries, pay taxes, and play an important role in the economic progress of the region. But still, he laments, we fail to protect their lives and property.

They are being killed and kidnapped by the Taliban in Orakzai, Kurrum, and Khyber tribal regions, Khan says, adding that other Pakistanis must stand by them in these critical hours and give them a sense of oneness and brotherhood.

An estimated 28,000 Sikhs live in Pakistan, including about 10,000 who live in the tribal region and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of the conflict-ridden country. In May 2009, Taliban militants destroyed 11 Sikh homes in the Orakzai tribal district after accusing them of failing to pay "taxes." The ongoing conflict in the Buner and Swat districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has displaced more than 200 families.


[Courtesy: Radio Free Europe]

June 4, 2010

Conversation about this article

1: Sukhindarpal SIngh (Penang, Malaysia), June 04, 2010, 11:14 AM.

Adaab, Khan Sahib. Thank you for doing what you are doing. I just finished watching "My name is Khan" with my kids and have just told them your real story vis a vis the reel story. It is humbling to see you do the seva, what more the seva is being done by a brother-at-law. "Ek pita ekas hum barik" rings true. GuruRakha.

2: Chintan Singh (San Jose, California, U.S.A.), June 04, 2010, 4:12 PM.

This truly is an example of 'Ek pita ekas hum barik' and the core of Sikh Philosophy of treating all as God's creation and serving anyone in need. Wish there were more Khurshid Khan's within and outside the Sikh community.

3: Kirpal Singh (Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S.A.), June 04, 2010, 8:51 PM.

Salaam and thank you, Khan Sahib, for your unique way of sympathy towards the suffering Sikh community in your area. May Allah bless you and your family with good health and happiness in every sphere of life.

4: Bhupinder Singh (New Delhi, India), June 05, 2010, 10:09 AM.

My highest appreciation for this noble gesture which is real religion.

5: R. Singh (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), June 05, 2010, 10:27 PM.

We need to invite this wonderful person and honour him in Canada. We may learn something about putting salve on a hurting person's wounds, something that was completely missed by those who stood by and kept mum about 1984 and 2002, including some of us Sikhs.

6: Pam Grewall (U.S.A.), June 07, 2010, 12:48 PM.

There are only two kinds of people in the world ... manmukh and gurmukh. They can be men, women, rich, poor, follow any religious practices, belong to any faith ... but they are distinguished within those variations by whether they follow their own ego (manmukh) or the teachings of the true Gurus of their faith (gurmukh). Khan Sahib is obviously a true Muslim and a gurmukh ... an insaan (human being), not just an aadmi (man). I humbly thank you for your efforts and pray for you and yours.

7: Colonel Harinder Singh Attari (Noida, India), June 07, 2010, 2:21 PM.

I was born in Lahore and started my education from Aitchison Chiefs College, Lahore. A son of Liyaqat Ali Khan was studying with me and we use to exchange our meat dishes on the dining table because he liked the taste of what was cooked for us. The tinge of brotherthood has to be revived and you have set an example. God bless you.

8: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), June 08, 2010, 8:03 PM.

I never met him. I spoke to him once. When, I was one day handed a handsome gift-box set of 4 CDs. In the corner was written his name, Abid Mir, and a telephone number and address. Abid Mir ran a famous carpet gallery. The CD box was inscribed: "NA MELA NA DHUNDLA, NA BHAGWA NA KACH, NANAK LAL-O - LAL HAI SACHAY RATTA SACH". I phoned my friend Inderjit Singh who was then staying with his daughter Juhi in Singapore. Yes, he had met him a few times and Abid Mir never failed to amaze him. He had been distributing free CDs of Guru Nanak's bani on a regular basis. He could be seen weekly at the Selat Road Gurdwara sitting devotedly near the kirtanias, his head covered, he lost to the outside world. Later on, he could be found in the langar hall doing seva. I was told that he not only donated generously towards langar but also helped in preparing it. His specialty was to produce sweet dishes. I am sure readers of in Singapore might supply further details on this amazing man underlying "Ek pita ekas ka hum barak" in actual day-to-day living!

9: Devinder Singh Gill (Markham, Ontario, Canada), July 14, 2010, 1:54 PM.

Khurshid Khan ji: Waheguru aap nu hameshaa chardi kalaa vicch rakhe, eh hi saadi ardaas hai. May Akal Purakh bless you and your family with your dreams.

10: Sukhprit Singh (New Delhi, India), August 04, 2010, 2:25 PM.

Waheguru ji twaadhi har manokaamna poori karega!

11: Jamil Mirza (Lahore, Pakistan), October 29, 2010, 2:09 AM.

Being a Muslim and a Punjabi, I appreciate the act of Kurshid Khan. He's a true human being and a Muslim.

12: Ayaz Ahmed Mazari (Rahim Yar Khan..Pakistan), October 08, 2011, 1:31 PM.

Khurshid Khan nay hum sub ka ser ooncha kar diya ... He is trying to heal the wounds of 1947. I have a good friend - more like a brother - living in Glasgow, Scotland, who is a Sikh: Kunwar Mandeep Singh Lamba. He hails from Yamuna Nagar in India.

13: Akram Malik (Azle, Texas, U.S.A.), October 09, 2011, 2:06 PM.

Toottay dillo(n) ko jorrney waaley ... tera shukria, sad bar shukria ... deen hamei(n) yehi sikhaata hai!

14: Rafiq Mian (Yanbu Al Sinaiyah, Saudi Arabia), October 10, 2011, 6:54 AM.

Bravo, Khurshid Khan. Goes to show that as bad that our world has become, we still have hidden in our midst true gems emblazoning the true meaning of humanity and transcendence. The present day and times that we all share, particularly so in Pakistan, we need more Khurshid Khan's!

15: Hassan Bajwa (Pakistan), October 10, 2011, 9:27 AM.

In a nation torn apart by sectarian, ethnic and religious strife, an act of humility like this re-awakens my faith in mankind. Khan Sahib, it takes the courage of 10,000 warriors to exhibit the humility and love that you do in these times of arrogance and hate.

16: Dil Sooz (California. U.S.A.), October 11, 2011, 2:44 AM.

Allah gave the distinct privilege to my late father to save the lives of Sikhs and Hindus during the riots of 1947. I am sure he would be smiling at this true act of "Pashtoon-wali" pride of a Pashtoon. Loya sha khurshid khana - May you live long!

17: Dr. Sanjeev Chhiber (Delhi, India), October 11, 2011, 11:45 AM.

Well done, Khan Sahib. As one who hails from, and whose family comes from the Punjab and Afghanistan regions, makes me immensely proud of your nobility.

18: Usman (Islamabad, Pakistan), October 13, 2011, 6:29 AM.

His effort is appreciated. Hats off to this man. But more is required, more and more which can provide a change in the mindset of all the people. Because as per the historical trends in Pakistan, this guy is going to be shot down very soon. It's not a wild assumption on my part: the same happened with Salman Taseer and Shehbaz Bhatti (Governor and Minister, respectively). We have to fight against the indoctrination, so that all ethnic and religious communities are safe in Pakistan. I had no idea about these recent massacres of Sikhs in Pakistan, but killing Muslims in the name of Islam by Muslims is already a very common thing here.

19: Bilal Ahmed (Rawalpindi, Pakistan), October 13, 2011, 11:38 PM.

While reading this article which was forwarded to me by my brother, Faiz, I felt so little and so ashamed of myself. Its people like Khurshid Khan who need to be acknowledged and praised. The divisions in the name of religion have harmed humanity and Pakistan a lot. I will be the happiest man to polish the shoes of this great soul with pride for the rest of my life.

20: Dr. Muhammad Adil Khattak (Johor, Malaysia), October 17, 2011, 11:33 PM.

Khan Sahib, apney hum sab pashtun key sar fakhar sey unchey kardiye! ALLAH apko aur nawazey aur hum sab ko apki tarah ka dil aur shouq dey, amen. We lived together in one region once and will always remain as one - insha ALLAH. We deeply sympathize the brutal acts on your community and will always stand by your side.

21: Moody (Islamabad, Pakistan), October 18, 2011, 1:33 AM.

I am so proud being a Pushtun to see my Pushtun brother doing a great job. He deserve every praise. We have no problems with our minority brothers, be they Sikhs, Christians, Jews or Hindus, or even the atheists. All humans are same and equal in status, and no one has any preference or domination over the other because of colour, race, creed, caste, religion or language. What is happening in the name of Islam has no value, and needs to be condemned. We love you, Sikh brothers, and we have the same feelings like Khursheed Khan for all of you. God bless you.

22: Taimur (Gujranwala, Pakistan), October 21, 2011, 3:02 AM.

In a country plagued by pernicious passions, yours is more than just a hope. It is something to embrace, something to savour, something to offer a tearful gratitude.

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