Hindus and Sikhs of Afghanistan Considerably Less Optimistic About Country’s Direction Than Other Afghans: Study

The Porsesh Research and Studies Organisation conducted a survey among the Sikh and Hindu communities of Afghanistan between September 2018 and February 2019 to highlight the experiences and conditions of the minority groups.

The main takeaway of the study was that Hindus and Sikhs are considerably less optimistic about the direction of Afghanistan, compared to the rest of Afghans, with a vast majority (81.6%) of them believing that Afghanistan is heading in the wrong direction. As opposed to this, only 13.1% say Afghanistan is heading in the right direction.

If one is to compare this to figures of Asia Foundation, where 32.8% of Afghans said they think their country is moving in the right direction and 61.3% said their country is heading in the wrong direction, it shows how Hindus and Sikhs are less optimistic than other Afghans.

The report points out that “perceptions about direction of the country is strongly associated with desire to migrate among Hindu and Sikh respondents, no other major factors such as economic, political participation and even security are associated with the level of optimism among respondents”.

Out of those surveyed, 43.2% think that Afghanistan is getting better or progressing and 35.1% feel that there is good security and they foresee an end of war.

Among 81.6% of respondents who say the country is moving in the wrong direction, 90.4% say it is because of insecurity/war/suicide attacks. The next reasons are unemployment, and poverty/poor economy.

The top grievances of the Hindu and Sikh communities are unemployment, lack of school or not being able to go to school, insecurity/war. The biggest problems facing Hindu and Sikh youths are lack of school.

Moreover, the study shows that the biggest problems facing Hindu and Sikh women are not being able to freely go outside or men do not allow them to go outside, not being able to go to school, lack of school fascilities or illiteracy, and insecurity/war.

When it comes to safety and security, majority report having a fear at all times about safety. They also report more fear for encountering Daesh, but marginally less scared than other Afghans of encountering Taliban. More than half however express fear facing ANP which, according to the research might be indicative of poor experiences. They’ve widely been a victim of land grabbing.

As far as electoral rights are concerned, participation by Hindus and Sikhs in election was lowest among Kabul respondents and highest in Nangarhar.

Economically, a quarter of respondents report having difficulty purchasing simple and basic food. Furthermore, unemployment is said to be the main obstacle in job market, cited by 31.5%, followed by insults and humiliation (17.8%), bigotry and discrimination (9.6%), and harassment (6.8%)

As citizens and having the freedom of religion, 18.2% claimed that they have been forced to convert to Islam and 6.5% say they have paid jazya tax. Respondents from Ghazni report paying jazya tax the most (11.9%), where the securtiy situation has been worse. The top group or party that respondents mention for collecting jazya tax is the Taliban, as per the report.

Overall, 60.7% of survey respondents expressed desire to migrate if they were given opportunity, while 37.9% expressed they would not leave.Top desired destinations for migration are India or Pakistan, followed by Europe, Canada, England, and any place that gives protection.

Majority of Hindu or Sikh families live in areas with other ethnic groups and diversity is “even greater at their workplace. In terms of discrimination, at schools, 34.9% say Hindus and Sikhs are discriminated often or sometimes, while 40.1% say there is no discrimination in schools. At universities, more than two-third (69.

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