RESEARCH INTO SIKH HERITAGE IN PAKISTAN– SHAHID SHABBIR
By Inderjeet Singh (Nottingham)
Shahid Shabbir is a freelance historian, and researcher, who is passionate about discovering the abandoned and obscure Punjabi Sikh – Hindu heritage places, including Gurdwaras, Temples, Forts, Courts, Havelies (Mansions), Baags (Royal gardens), Barandaries (12 gates structures) etc. related to Sikh and Hindu religions in West Punjab.
After completing Diploma in Floriculture, he moved to Islamabad from his ancestral city Lahore. Shahid works as a Landscape Designer and is pursuing MA in History from Open University along with his job and passion for finding historical structures in Pakistan. Apart from designing beautiful landscape, he has been exploring the ruins of temples & Sikh heritage in Pakistan.
In the past 3 years he has discovered many heritages sites related to Sikhs and Hindus in West Punjab, Pakistan. So far he has documented and uploaded videos and pictures of Gurdwaras and Temples which people outside Pakistan have rarely seen or heard. Shahid’s efforts are unique. He is raising the profile and creating awareness of the shared history between India and Pakistan. Shahid does not have monetary support from any academic or religious organisation nevertheless as he says he has the blessings and good will of his supporters on Facebook. Some of the Facebook pages he has been running are as follows:
• Save Gurudwaras and Temples of Pakistan https://www.facebook.com/savegurudwarasandtepmlesofpakistan
• Save Historical Places of Pakistan https://www.facebook.com/savehistoricalplacesofpakistan
• Khalsa Raj Foot Steps in Pakistan https://www.facebook.com/khalsarajfootstepsinpakistan
Shahid’s has discovered different shapes of Gurdwaras over the centuries. Unlike in East Punjab where Sikhs in the name of Kar Seva, demolished all old structures and replaced them with dome shaped marble Gurdwaras, the Gurdwaras in Pakistan are intact and preserved in their pre-partition shape. 90% of Khalsa Raj and at least 50% of overall Sikh heritage are in Pakistan. If one visits the above Facebook pages, they would find videos with commentary and photographs of our historical structures left behind in Pakistan.
Shahid’s work has been appreciated by the Sikh community, especially by those connected to social media and radio. He was interviewed by Australia based Qaumi Awaaz Radio in 2014. Last year he was interviewed 4 times by Gurwinder Singh of Voice of Khalsa, an Australia based radio station. These recording are available on YouTube.
Shahid’s tour to USA
To raise the profile of the Sikh heritage in Pakistan, Shahid Shabbir is visiting California, USA from mid-October 2016 for a period of one month. He plans to visit Gurdwara Sahibs and Sikh/Heritage organisations across USA to give his presentation on Sikh heritage in Pakistan. Readers from USA may contact Shahid Shabbir through his Face Book page ‘Khalsa Raj Footsteps in Pakistan’ https://www.facebook.com/Khalsarajfootstepsinpakistan/ to arrange his presentation in their local Gurdwara Sahib or Sikh organisation.
The print and Television media has been slow in recognising this tremendous work. Shahid is a man of peace while politicians from both countries are busy finding reasons to hate the other country. Let’s give Shahid the credit and recognition which he richly deserves.