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History, culture and exile: Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan

Updated on June 17, 2011

Afghanistan's ethnic and religious mix

Afghanistan is a country with a great mixture of ethnicities and religions. Almost all Afghans are Muslim, but there are small (much diminished and diminishing) Sikh and Hindu religious and ethnic minorities.

Afghanistan has four major ethnic groups, Pashtun, Hazara, Tajik, and Uzbek.

There are a large number of other minorities based on tribal, linguistic, and cultural differences, and there are the very small non-Muslim minorities.

No-one knows exactly how many people live in Afghanistan or much else about them. No proper censuses have been carried out for many decades.

The country has a population of about 31 million people, who are overwhelmingly Muslim in religious terms, although diverse in language and culture. It is estimated that 80% of the population is Sunni Muslim, and 19% Shi’a Muslim.

The current number of Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan is difficult to judge but estimates range from 2000 to 3000 in total.

There is a small number, perhaps 500, Baha’is, and a small, very underground, Christian community, which might be anywhere from 500 to 10,000 strong. There is also one Jew, living in Kabul.

Interesting books about Afghanistan

Afghanistan: A Short History of Its People and Politics
Afghanistan: A Short History of Its People and Politics

A really good, thorough, and detailed history of Afghanistan.


Afghan Maps

A map of Afghanistan showing the political boundaries and major settlements.
A map of Afghanistan showing the political boundaries and major settlements.
Map showing distribution of ethnic and linguistic groups in Afghanistan.
Map showing distribution of ethnic and linguistic groups in Afghanistan.

History of Afghanistan

Afghanistan has, for many centuries, been a battleground.

It has been caught in the middle of warring powers, and was an important element in the “Great Game” in Victorian times.

Britain recognised Afghanistan as an independent monarchy in 1921, and the country was ruled by King Zahir Shah from 1933 until 1973, when he was deposed in a coup.

In 1978, a communist coup was carried out in Afghanistan; there has been continuous conflict and violence since that time.

The USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1979, and withdrew in the end in1989, having been attacked fiercely by the Mujahideen.

The communist government lasted until 1992, when it was overthrown by the Mujahideen. The Najibullah government was the last communist government in Afghanistan.

The Mujahideen battled and warred in Kabul until 1995, and were evicted by the Taliban in 1996.

Most of Afghanistan was then in the Taliban’s hands, apart from parts of northern Afghanistan which were controlled by the Northern Alliance, a Tajik-dominated coalition of Mujahideen commanders and supporters.

After the terrorist attacks on the 11th September 2001, the United States and Northern Alliance allied to remove the Taliban regime.

Northern Alliance forces took over Kabul in November 2001, and Kandahar, the spiritual centre of Taliban power, was surrendered in December 2001.

There was a provisional government from December 2001, and proper elections were held in 2004. The President elected, who is still in power, is President Hamid Karzai.

Karzai is likely to be re-elected in August 2009, as the opposition cannot agree a candidate to unite the various groups, and Karzai has co-opted a fire-breathing Jihadist as his vice-presidential candidate.

Fiction set in Afghanistan

Afghan Islam

The traditional form of Islam in Afghanistan was Sunni, and followed the Hanafi school of jurisprudence. Much of the population for the last 200 years or so has been influenced by Deobandi, and Sufism. This is a mystical branch of Islam, and tends to be more introspective and tolerant than many other traditions.

During the late 20th century, the extremist Wahhabi form of Islam has gained greater influence in Afghanistan. The Wahhabis, who are supported extensively from Saudi Arabia, are much less tolerant and more fundamentalist than traditional Afghan Islam.

The constitution of Afghanistan declares that Islam is the religion of the state, and says that no secular law, “can be contrary to the belief and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam”, and goes on to state that, “followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rights within the limits of the provisions of the law”.

Sharia law, or Islamic religious law, is law in Afghanistan in matters such as conversion, blasphemy, and apostasy.

The history of the Afghan Sikhs and Hindus

The Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan have been there a long time. Ethnically, they are of Indian origin, and have remained a separate community from local Afghans.

Traders frequently passed through Afghanistan through the last few hundred years, and descendants of these traders eventually settled from the trading route which started in the Sindh and the Punjab, and ran through the mountains to Kandahar and Jalalabad and Kabul. The trade routes then went across the Hindu Kush to Samarkand, Bukhara, Merv, and onwards into Europe.

The trading networks were disrupted in 1947, when India gained independence and was partitioned. The Sikh and Hindu residents living in what became Pakistan, particularly the North West Frontier province, Punjab, and Sindh, left and mainly went to India. Those Sikhs and Hindus living in Afghanistan, stayed there, but were now separated from their Indian origins by the State of Pakistan.

At its height, the Sikh and Hindu community is estimated to have consisted of 50,000 to 200,000 people. Afghanistan is not a place where accurate figures are easy to come by, now or in the past.

After the Russian invasion, the Sikhs and Hindus continued to do well. They carried on being principally traders and shopkeepers, as their fathers and grandfathers had been. Many members of the Hindu and Sikh minorities took advantage of the improved education in Kabul during the Russian occupation.

Traditional Afghan Islam had been quite happy to tolerate the presence of the Hindus and Sikhs in the country. The communities set up temples, kept their religious practices, and traded between cities and in shops with no particular difficulties.

The communities remained separate from other Afghans, and married between themselves, and continued to use, at home and in the temple, a form of Punjabi, known as Multani Punjabi.

However Hindus and Sikhs also spoke Dari, the Afghan form of Farsi (Persian, spoken in Iran), and Pashtu, depending on which part of Afghanistan they lived in.

Photographs of modern-day Afghanistan - used by permission of

Photograph of a Black Hawk helicopter near Bagram, Afghanistan, March 2007
Photograph of a Black Hawk helicopter near Bagram, Afghanistan, March 2007
two Afghan soldiers chat to a local goat-herder.
two Afghan soldiers chat to a local goat-herder.

The Mujahideen and Taliban's effect on Afghan Sikhs and Hindus

The Mujahideen, and Taliban in particular, were bad news for the Afghan Sikhs and Hindus.

The Mujahideen and in particular the Taliban, took quite a different attitude from the traditional Afghan tolerance. The Taliban was very hostile to Sufism, and even the Shi’a branch of Islam. The Hindus and Sikhs were beyond the pale, and were condemned as Kaffir, or unbelievers.

As Dr Roger Ballard, a Professor of Anthropology specialising in this area of Asia said:

In the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which they claim to have brought into existence, they took the view that only two options were available for the unbelieving polytheists; either convert to the true faith, or be eliminated.

There were moves not only to suppress Sikhs and Hindus, but to make them wear yellow badges in order to identify themselves as non-believers. Violence, kidnapping, abuse, and general persecution were common, as was forced conversion to Islam for young women and girls, followed by marriage to local Muslims

Guru Nanak's birthday celebrated in Kabul in 2006

Gurupurb celebration in Kabul's Gurdwara, 2007

Afghan Sikhs and Hindus today

The number of Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan today is unclear. There may be between 2000 and 3000 living there. They continue to live in the cities and provinces of Afghanistan where they have historically been based.

Communities were mainly based in the cities, particularly Kabul, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Ghazni, and the Kunar province. Other communities lived in Kunduz and Khost.

Before the fighting in Kabul, there were approximately eight Sikh and four Hindu temples in Kabul. They were either destroyed or used as military or army basis. Today there are three Gurdwaras in Kabul, but only one is structurally sound. In Jalalabad, there are two Sikh temples and one Hindu temple, but they are not in particularly good repair.

Sikh and Hindu children have been unable to attend government schools, as they have been harassed by both teachers and pupils. There is a Sikh school in Kabul, but it only has one teacher for a 120 students, and is run and funded by the Sikh community.

Unlike, for example, in India, the Hindu and Sikh communities are very closely integrated. They frequently live together, and even share temples. The situation for the two groups is very similar.

The communities have particular problems reclaiming land which has been occupied by various militia commanders, and in burning the dead.

Many Muslims regard the Sikh and Hindu practice of cremating the dead to be blasphemous, and there has been violence and difficulties when Sikh and Hindu people die.

Those Afghan Sikhs born since the mid 1970s have experienced a much more insular life than their parents and grandparents. It is common for older Sikh and Hindu men and women to speak local Afghan languages fluently.

In the case of many younger people, they speak only Punjabi, as it has never been safe for them to attend government run schools or associate with local Muslim Afghans. This is particularly true of younger Afghan women.

Almost all of Afghanistan's Sikhs and Hindus have, by now, left the country. Most of them have made their way to India, where they live as semi official refugees but have a great deal of trouble getting any form of permanent status. Others travelled either to America or to European countries in order to try and establish themselves as refugees.

Afghan Sikhs and Hindus were generally easily identifiable. In terms of appearance, they were often darker skinned than many Afghans, and the men, particularly the Sikhs, wore the traditional turban, did not cut their hair, and grew long beards. The women did not tend to cover up as comprehensively as Muslim women did.

The Afghan Sikh and Hindu Diaspora

London has a particularly large Afghan Sikh community. Many live fairly close together in an area near south-west London called Hounslow.

The community there has raised funds, and built an Afghan Sikh temple. It is not the case that non Afghans may not attend, but the vast majority who do attend are Afghans. There are also cultural and community centres near the Gurdwara (Sikh temple).

Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities in London have continued to huddle together for support.

It is very common within the culture for marriages to be arranged, rather than to be entered into spontaneously. There was a very strong habit of marrying within close family, particularly first cousins on one or more sides. It is not uncommon to meet a family where grandparents, parents and children are all the product of close cousin marriages.

Living in London, the community has generally tried to establish itself as well as possible. Both genders, but particularly men, have put considerable effort into learning English.

Continuing the commercial habits long-established, the men tend to enter various types of trading businesses, particularly shops.

Those few who remain in Afghanistan - their future

The future for those Afghan Sikhs and Hindus who remain in Afghanistan is not necessarily particularly good. As Dr Ballard put it, after the overthrow of the Taliban regime:

Many hoped that it would lead to the restoration of the status quo ante - perhaps even back to the conditions in the halcyon days prior to the Soviet occupation in 1979. In those circumstances a significant number of those who had sought refuge oversees – Muslims, no less than Sikhs and Hindus – returned to Afghanistan in the hope of building a better future in what had once been a relaxed and beautiful country.

Those desires and hopes have often been dashed. Afghanistan’s better future lies some way off.

The regime of President Karzai, is relatively liberal in its outlook. But it has shaky claims to legitimacy, and must stay in with those who are more fundamentalist in outlook. The neo-Taliban and various warlords continue to encroach upon the government’s power.

Given the inherent fragility of Karzai’s regime, protection of the country’s religious minorities is near the bottom of the priority list, and is particularly difficult to achieve when he needs to maintain the support of often very fundamentalist Islamic allies.

There appears to be quite a strong level of societal discrimination and harassment. Random violence is offered against Sikhs and Hindus, pupils are harassed if they go to school, and other issues become very difficult.

Afghan families in Kabul

Children among the ruins - used with permission from
Children among the ruins - used with permission from
Afghan family on a bicycle in Kabul - used with permission from
Afghan family on a bicycle in Kabul - used with permission from

The future does not look good

As Dr Ballard has put it:

Like an ever increasing number of countries which have been propelled into modernity as a result of armed external intervention, Afghanistan’s past currently looks much brighter than its future.

When States fail in this way, only those with the good fortune to belong to well armed majorities can expect to enjoy any degree of personal security. Minorities have a hard time, to put it at its very mildest. The Sikhs and Hindus are one such minority.

There were very high hopes when the Taliban regime was toppled, and there was a window of opportunity for a better Afghanistan to be built. That window has proved to be a false dawn, and the state of Afghanistan has fallen back into armed warlordism and tribal conflict.

Sad is it may appear, the future of the Afghan Sikh and Hindu populations appears to be, at least for the moment, outside the country.


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    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      This was a deeply informative hub about the situation of the Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan. I know so little about the country, but articles like yours help to fill the large gaps. There is so much to learn in this huge world of ours. I hope that things get better for the Sikhs and I admire the work you are doing to help the. Voted up.

    • profile image

      Afghan ARYANA 

      6 years ago

      Hindu and sikh are geniun Afghans who have lived there for centuries. Taliban,fundmentalist Islamists, warlords of Hizb Islami and northern alliance are inventions of Pakistan from the 1980's and 90's. The Irony is that Pakistan itself is an artificialy invented country in the name of religioun and hase been carved out of Indian and Afghanistan territories.

    • profile image

      Tanveer Singh 

      7 years ago

      In ancient times before Islam invaded Afghanistan, this region was a part of India as it was a Hindu kingdom & it always had been since antiquity as seen in the ancient Hindu historical accounts. Its ancient name was in sanskrit - UPGHANASTHAN as mentioned in the epic Ramayana where Ravana's sister in law came from KUBH or Kabul. It was a Hindu kingdom with Hinduism as the main religion there for centuries. The islamic invasions not only desecrated Hindu temples & Buddhist temples, but great human genocide took place after the last Shahi Hindu King known as Rajapal was killed in battle by the invading muslims who were there to loot & plunder Hindu wealth & make India a Dar-Ul-islam - land converted to islam. Atrocities in the name of Islam is still going on against the original inhabitants the Hindus/Sikhs and I would like to know where the human rights people are when it omes to Hindus & Sikhs.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      it was great to know what you have written about afghanistan. but one thing you need to know that DARI existed before farsi and you need to find out what dari means. over all thank you for the time taken to write so much

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      As an Indo-Canadian Sikh, this article is very incredible. I wish there was more harmony between religions because we all pretty much are taking different paths to the same destination. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all that you do Londongirl!

    • aneesharyan profile image


      7 years ago

      Fantastic Hub and I agree with Khan.......

    • Ignatius J Reilly profile image

      Ignatius J Reilly 

      8 years ago from London

      This is an excellent and intelligent Hub. Thanks!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      The information was so usefull but has a little mistake that all hindus and sikh were not migrated or came for trading to afghanistan from india or pakistan, some of them were oregenally Afghans. Hostorians say the faith of Afghans and pathans were Zoroastrian, budhism and hinduism. And after coming Islam some of them remain on thiere own faith.

    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      Hi Jon, glad you liked it. I'm sorry to hear about your loss in 2001, did your cousin work in New York, or was he visiting?

      Thanks AIM! Glad you enjoyed it. I do quite a lot of work with Afghan asylum-seekers.

    • Army Infantry Mom profile image

      Army Infantry Mom 

      9 years ago

      Wow,...Awesome hub !!! You never leave anything out. I really enjoy reading your matterial because you are such a detailed writer.

    • JonTutor profile image


      9 years ago from USA

      BGpapa suggested your articles.... Cool article..... I dunno about Sikhs/Hindus in Afghanistan... gotta learn something new everyday.... I'm researching Afghanistan.... I lost my favorite cousin in 911.

    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      Thanks - glad you found it interesting. Afghanistan is a fascinating place, I'd love to visit (when it's a bit safer, though).

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 

      9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      A good primer for those of us who have limited knowledge of Afghanistan. Thanks, LondonGirl.

    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      Thanks Jignesh, glad you enjoyed it. There is a community in Afghanistan, but sadly diminished.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for article,

      it's really good and to the point,as i m a Hindu,b4 reading this article i was wondering, is their any Hindu community resideing in Afghanistan? but now i got idea about them.

      Thanks a Lot

    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      Hi Charanjeet Kaur - I'm glad you enjoyed it. I guess with a name like "Kaur" you may be Sikh yourself?

      Many Afghan Sikhs are now living in the main Gurdwara in Kabul, because their houses are wrecked or stolen, and because there is safety in numbers.

      I am glad you found it interesting.

    • charanjeet kaur profile image

      charanjeet kaur 

      9 years ago from Delhi

      What an interesting hub to say would be an understatement, i am so moved by this hub it brings in a lot of emotions and never knew about the fate of sikhs and hindus down there. It is really overwhelming to read that a holy place like a gurudwara is being brought down for personal prejudices. A gurudwara to me holds a special significance in my heart. It hurts to read the plight.

    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      Glad you enjoyed it. The Kite Runner is great - have you read his other one? A Thousand Splendid Suns? If not, do get it, it's just as good.

    • cgull8m profile image


      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Great Job LondonGirl, I felt the same feeling after I read the Kite Runner book, great post. Can't believe the miseries common Afghanis are going through because of the Taliban and the corruption of the rulers. Sadly the minorities are the most affected by all this violence. Brilliant Job LondonGirl.

    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      Hi country woman - glad you enjoyed it! I agree, the communities in India were pulled apart in the early 1980s in India - glad to know they are on the mend.

    • countrywomen profile image


      9 years ago from Washington, USA

      LG- WOW!! This is a fantastic hub. If there is a place where we could nominate certain hubs to be best/hot so that it gets highlighted then I would certainly recommend this hub. Your coverage of the subject and pictures is excellent. You inspire me to publish articles of this high quality. You are right Hindus/Sikhs are similar and the eldest son was known as the Sardar and in times of Aurungzeb these "sardars" laid down their very lives to oppose forceful conversions. But unfortunately to a certain extent Indira Gandhi and a foreign country together for a brief time tried to separate these two communities. And now slowly we are again integrating. Thumbs up for a great hub.

    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      I'm glad you enjoyed it. The destruction of the Buddhas was a terrible act of cultural terrorism, I couldn't agree more.

      Stable government - in the future, I think, at best, but not now.

    • packerpack profile image

      Om Prakash Singh 

      9 years ago from India, Calcutta

      An extremely informative Hub LG. It was a very good read. You have given a very detailed data about the Hindus and Sikhs right from the beginning till date. Taliban was a bad thing to happen to them. I have heard that it was a very beautiful country until they started couping as you too have mentioned.

      But I didn't know that Hindus and Sikhs were supposed to were yellow badge. It is just like what Hitler did with Jews. As you have mentioned that their temples were all destroyed, I don't if you know this too that there was this a huge statue of lord Gautam Buddha carved and cut out of a mountain. I guess it the oldest statue, somewhat around 2000 years but those guys destroyed it too. But now that more stable government has come there so hopefully the country gains its old fame back again.

      Keep it up LG, it was a very good Hub. Thumbs UP!

    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      Thanks - glad you found it interesting. I didn't know many Afghan Sikhs and Hindus had made it to New Zealand, though!

    • mandybeau profile image


      9 years ago

      I found this Hub, really interesting, as I work and mix with alot of people of these cultures, as do may new Zealanders, no one stops to think about what their culture was, what they have left, so the hub was immensely educational.

      Thanx for another great hub


    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      Thanks - I'm glad you found it useful. I can't see the country getting a lot better soon, but I hope I'm wrong.

    • mulberry1 profile image

      Christine Mulberry 

      9 years ago

      It's nice to be able to read something fairly succinct that explains so much of the history of Afghanistan, the Sikhs and Hindus as well as providing a realistic view of what life is like and likely will be for some time to come. It's not always what we want to hear, but it's what we need to know.

    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      Glad you enjoyed it. In the fullness of time, I intend to do one on the Taliban to match this minorities hub.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 

      9 years ago from United States

      This is a wonderful article. It's nice to have Afghan history written down so clearly.

    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      Thank you! My stuff is not nearly as useful as your own hubs and comments, though (-:

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 

      9 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      I'm really enjoying your hubs. I learn something new every time :)

    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      Thank you - glad you enjoyed reading it. I've worked with Afghan Sikhs and Hindus quite a bit, and they are an impressive lot.

      The Taliban were, quite simply, the fundies' fundamentalists.

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 

      9 years ago from Central New Jersey

      I remember in the nineties seeing pictures of the Taliban beating women on the street for no reason and blowing up ancient Bhuddist statues. Music was forbidden and weekly executions were held in a football stadium. They gave me the creeps at the time. What is it with these guys? Don't they have mothers, wives, sisters, daughters? The picture you paint of life for non-Muslim minorities under them and since the 2001 invasion is awful.

      Thanks for such an info-packed, well organized and well-written account. Like you I don't hold out much hope for a happy ending for any of us in Afghanistan.

    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      It's unusual - because in India, for example, you couldn't run Sikh-and-Hindu together in anything like the same way.

      I've met several young women and girls, who in their entire lives, had left the extended family home in Jalalabad or Kabul a few times, and could count them on the fingers of one hand. The situation in Afghanistan has been so bad, for so long, that families were driven to this.

      It wasn't that they wanted to imprison their daughters. I'm thinking of one family where the mother had attended schools from the age of 6 to 15 (a long education in Afghan terms) and her late teenage daughters had left the house twice, that they remembered, before fleeing Kandahar for the UK. Adjusting just to being able to go outside was significant for those girls.

    • Teresa McGurk profile image


      9 years ago from The Other Bangor

      I heard about a group of women who would secretly wear make up under their burkha just in an attempt to exert some illusion of individuality. One of the years we produced Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues (she lets copyright be waived around Feb. 14th each year for productions which give the proceeds to charities opposing violence to women) the audience were audibly upset with one of the cast members wearing a burkha on stage -- (of course we had all taken turns trying it on before the show -- it was horrible). It was fascinating to hear the audience's response (well, of course, there were guys shouting "take it off" for entirely different reasons than the women). But I don't think that one day's experimentation with "dress up and pretend" gave us any indication at all of the loss of self and identity that would go with such a regime. At least the Sikh and Hindu (it does seem strange to be mentioning these two groups together in this ad hoc relationship) women do not suffer such complete eradication of self.

    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      The Taliban were worse than many. One bright idea they had was to try to ban women from working even as doctors, nurses or midwives, and then say it was wrong for women to have intimate medical care from men. So maternal mortality rates, already horrific, went through the roof.

    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      I think my earnings from Afghan's minority communities are more likely to come from representing them in court (-:

    • Teresa McGurk profile image


      9 years ago from The Other Bangor

      It's difficult to maintain an ideal of non-interventionism (not that Bush ever did so, thought so, or would have been able to pronounce the word) in the face of a crew such as the Taliban -- I do agree that their rule is dreadful, as any absolutist rule is dreadful. But the manner of ithe invasion, its scattered destruction, and the reasons given, were appalling. People in Afghanistan are rightly scared of, and angry at, the invading forces. And indeed, energy spent on rebulding would have also rebuilt trust.

      I dunno about this not being a commercial piece -- not as a piece of news reporting or as a political piece, no; but as a study in social anthropology, yes: Nat'nl Geo might well be interested in a way of life being eradicated (which is what seems to be happening); with further interviews of Hindus and Sikhs establishing refugee status in the UK, and with accounts of their experiences the past few years, the piece would stand up as a solid essay. But what do I know about what sells -- I made $1.78 last week.

    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      Yes, I do quite a lot of work with Afghans in general, and Sikhs and Hindus in particular. I've been in court twice this week with Afghans, for example.

    • SweetiePie profile image


      9 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Does part of your job entail helping Sikhs and Hindus find ways to legally immigrate? 

    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      Thanks SP - I'm glad you enjoyed it.

      Afghan Sikhs and Hindus are by no means guaranteed refugee status in the UK, and there is a chartered removal flight to Afghanistan weekly. They only tend to remove or deport adult men, though, not families or women.

      Penalties for employing illegal immigrants have got an awful lot harsher recently in the UK - fines of, I think, £10,000 per worker.

    • SweetiePie profile image


      9 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Thank you for giving us a deeper look at the Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities.  As you said I believe it will be a long time off before Afghanistan achieves political, economic, and social stability, so it seems the only viable opportunity is for them to emigrate overseas.  My hope is people will stop harshly judging those who emigrate to their country from other places, but I have a feeling in the UK people are a little bit more open minded about this than in parts of the US.  I was always a little upset to hear about people wanting to "sweep" the California/Mexican border to make sure no one illegally crossed, and I wonder if they ever stop to think why people might do so.  I am not encouraging illegal emigration, but we must consider what people go through in their native countries that would prompt them to leave.  Sadly I feel some people in Southern California are still way too harsh towards all emigrants.

    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      For what it is worth, I think getting rid of the Taliban was the right thing to do, for the wrong reasons.

      But thereafter we tried to do it on the cheap - and thereby spent a hell of a lot more on army-stuff than we would have done if we'd thrown money at building things.

      My guess is, this will never even slightly be a commercial hub. But I enjoyed writing it (-:

    • Teresa McGurk profile image


      9 years ago from The Other Bangor

      P.S. this is an excellent example of just how all the elements of a good hub can come together -- good writing, good illustration, video capsules, relevant links, and relevant advertising that all contribute to the reportage. We should all send new hubbers here for a great illustration of how to produce one helluva hub.

    • Teresa McGurk profile image


      9 years ago from The Other Bangor

      It's been really odd here in the States to see just how quickly the focus shifted from Afghanistan to Iraq -- I found myself having to keep reminding students that Afghanistan existed, and that it was a country that had just managed to achieve some small measure of stability (albeit under fundamentalist rule) which had now been destroyed. No news reports here focused on the numbers of civilians killed over there -- partly because no exact guess is possible, but mostly because, I'm afraid, it wasn't good press. Bush also put a stop to any news coverage of the bodies of American troops arriving back at Andrews AirForce base, again to deflect attention away from the reality of it all. I am saddened but also kinda sorta maybe relieved that Obama is sending more troops (17,000 I think) back to Afghanistan -- not because it's good that there is so much unrest, but because they might also help continue the rebuilding of schools and hospitals, roads and runways. It's the least we can do, and it comes late in the process.

    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      Thanks Teresa - coming from you, that means a lot! And thanks for the note about duplication, I've edited it.

      Opium production has soared, and is now greater than ever, sadly. It supports a lot of fundies, these days.

      The infrastructure was smashed by the coup in 1978, smashed by the Russians, smashed by the Mujahideen, smashed by the Taliban, smashed by the Americans. It's got to be a habit in that part of the world.

    • Teresa McGurk profile image


      9 years ago from The Other Bangor

      Oh, this made me cry. As I understand it, the infrastructure of the country -- roads, rail, etc. had been decimated in the early 2000's and is only slowly being rebuilt. Add to that the further fragmentation of the Sikh and Hindu communities in an increasingly hostile tribal jostling of warlords -- and we don't even know how many of any faction there actually are in the country. I also understand that opium is once again the country's biggest cash crop, replacing the years of careful cultivation of alternate crops, and further strengthening the warlords in their areas.

      This is an excellent piece of writing, Puella, and akin in quality (and illustration -- great photos, by the way) to anything I've seen in the better news journals or Nat'n'l Geographic. You should send it out. (Incidentally, quick note on the penultimate capsule, where there is a paragraph duplicated.)

      The research here is wonderful -- a well-trained barrister, I see, is just the person to present the case for these sad torn people. Thoroughly engaging read. Thanks.

    • LondonGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London

      very familiar, sadly. And I'm not that keen on the Taliban or neo-Taliban myself.

    • Sufidreamer profile image


      9 years ago from Sparti, Greece

      Informative Hub, London Girl - as you can imagine, I am no fan of the Taliban - Leave my Sufis alone, Fundies!

      Unfortunately, Afghanistan is in a strategically important location, and has been at constant war for thousands of years, even before the time of Alexander. I am not too optimistic, sadly - the bones of thousands of invaders lie forgotten in the trackless monuntains.

      I did not know about the yellow badges - that sounds all too familiar :(

    • Lgali profile image


      9 years ago

      very nice article good to know about Afghanistan


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