Will Punjab have first Sikh Minister this time?

By Faizan Bangash
March 04, 2024
PTI Sikh MPA Sardar Mahendar Pal Singh. — Provincial Assembly of the Punjab Website

LAHORE: The province of Punjab, known as the land of Baba Guru Nanak Sahab, the founder of Sikh religion is yet to have a Sikh Minister.


After setting the record of electing first woman chief minister in form of Maryam Nawaz, will Punjab have a first even Sikh minister, this question is also doing rounds the circles of minorities as well as the Sikh community for whom Punjab has significant owing to the presence of their sacred places like Nankana Sahab and Kartarpur. Thousands of visitors across the world also visit Punjab every year to visit these places. Particularly after the opening of Kartarpur corridor, the significance of Punjab has also increased manifold concerning religious tourism.

Punjab Assembly has its first MPA ever in form of Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora of PMLN in 2013. Ramesh Singh, who hails from district Narowal took oath in 2013. He was fortunate to return to PA once again in 2020 while a minority seat fell vacant that brought his name on top in the priority list. So, PMLN has the credit of bringing first ever Sikh MPA to Punjab Assembly. Similarly, second Sikh MPA in Punjab was Sardar Mahendar Pal Singh of PTI who took oath in 2018. He was the first ever Parliamentary Secretary of Punjab Assembly. However, in these 10 years, between 2013 to 2023, no Sikh MPA was inducted in Punjab cabinet. Even in the hurriedly announced cabinet of Hamza Shehbaz in 2022 that was denotified after he lost majority in the House and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi replaced him, the Sikh MPA was not made part of the cabinet.

In the 2024 Assembly, only one Sikh MPA, Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora of PMLN has taken oath so far where PTI, which has merged into Sunni Ittehad Council is yet to get its quota of minority seats. Mahendar Pal Singh of PTI has not been able to return to PA this time.

Ramesh Arora made headlines twice during his first tenure between 2013 to 2018, first as the first ever Sikh MPA of post partition Punjab since 1947 and second when he introduced the Sikh Marriage Bill in PA in the year 2017. The Bill was passed unanimously by the House. He has also been elected as the Pradhan of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee recently.

Will PMLN make history while inducting first ever Sikh Minister this time is still a pending question because the cabinet is yet to be announced. So far, amongst the political parties, PPP has brought the largest number of minority members to mainstreams as it has not only awarded tickets to them on general seats but also picked Senators from 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 has recently been made the Deputy Speaker of Sindh Assembly.

In KP, member from Sikh community has also been inducted in Provincial cabinet by PTI. In Punjab, two Sikh MPAs have so far taken oath as the members of Punjab Assembly where members from Christian and Hindu community have also been made MPAs but other than Christian MPAs, member from no other community has been inducted in cabinet so far. Punjab did have first ever Christian Finance Minister in form of Kamran Miachel of PMLN who also presented annual budget in 2011 in PA.