Will Punjab get its first Sikh minister post partition?

By
Faizan Bangash
PML-N MPA Sardar Ramesh Arora talking to PM-elect Shehbaz Sharif in this picture posted on the formers X account on February 11, 2023.
PML-N MPA Sardar Ramesh Arora talking to PM-elect Shehbaz Sharif in this picture posted on the former's X account on February 11, 2023. 

Punjab is known as the land of Baba Guru Nanak Sahab but is yet to see a Sikh minister take oath post-partition.

According to The News, with Maryam Nawaz becoming the country's first female chief minister, the question is doing rounds in the minority circles and the Sikh community whether Punjab would get a Sikh minister or not.

The province holds significant importance for the Sikh community due to the presence of sacred places like Nankana Sahab and Kartarpur. Thousands of visitors come to Punjab from across the world every year to visit these places. Particularly after the opening of the Kartarpur corridor, the significance of Punjab has also increased manifold concerning religious tourism.

Punjab Assembly got its first Sikh MPA post partition when Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) brought Sardar Ramesh Arora to the legislature on a minority seat in 2013.

Ramesh, who hails from district Narowal took oath in 2013 and was fortunate to return to Punjab Assembly once again in 2020 when a minority seat fell vacant.

The lawmaker also came to the limelight when he introduced the Sikh Marriage Bill in Punjab Assembly in 2017. The Bill was passed unanimously by the House. 

Arora recently got elected as Pradhan of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee.

Similarly, the second Sikh MPA in Punjab was Sardar Mahendar Pal Singh of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) who took oath in 2018. He holds the honour of becoming the first-ever parliamentary secretary of the Punjab Assembly.

However, between 2013-2023, no Sikh MPA was inducted into the Punjab cabinet.

In the current assembly, PML-N’s Arora is the only Sikh who has taken oath while Singh’s return to the assembly is in the doldrums as the PTI-backed Sunni Ittehad Council is yet to get its quota of minority seats.

Now it remains to be seen if PML-N after bringing in the first Sikh MPA will give the province and the country its first minister from the minority community.

So far, amongst the political parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has made efforts to bring in the largest number of minority members to the mainstream by not only awarding them tickets on general seats but also picking senators from the scheduled cast.

Members like Krishna Kumari, Gayan Chand have been made senators whereas figures like Dr Mahesh Kumar Mallani have been elected as MNA on PPP ticket. Naveed Anthony became the deputy speaker of the Sindh Assembly after the party nominated him for the slot.

In KP, a member from the Sikh community was inducted into the provincial cabinet by PTI.

In Punjab, two Sikh MPAs have so far taken oath as the members of Punjab Assembly where members from the Christian and Hindu communities have also been made MPAs but other than Christian MPAs, members from no other community have been inducted in cabinet so far.

Kamran Michael of PML-N holds the honour of becoming the first-ever Christian finance minister of Punjab and also presented the provincial government budget in 2011.