Kill, in the name of religion
According to a recent news report, an organisation called All-Pakistan Students Khatam-e-Nabuwwat is disseminating pamphlets declaring Ahmadis as wajibul qatl (liable to be murdered) for their religious beliefs. The local police authorities, in their usual style, have swept the issue under the carpet.
Pakistan is a boiling pot of sectarian strife.
A history of hate
Sectarian discord escalated in the 1980s and Pakistan became a proxy battle ground for the Sunni and Shia organisations, heavily funded by Saudi Arabia and Iran respectively. However, the history of sectarian violence in Pakistan goes back to the days of its inception.
1953: When Pakistan was still trying to establish itself as a stable state, the anti-Ahmadi riots, led by Jamat-i-Islami and Majlis-e-Khatame Nabuwwat, broke out in Punjab. The demands presented by the leaders of the anti-Ahmadi agitations were, to declare Ahmadis as non-Muslims, the removal of an Ahmadi foreign minister Zafrullah Khan and the ban on employment of Ahmadis in government service.
1974: Following another violent spell of riots, a constitutional amendment was unanimously passed by the national assembly, which expelled Ahmadis from the folds of Islam, against their wishes.
1984: President General Zia further curbed the liberties of the Ahmadi community by promulgating Ordinance XX. According to this ordinance, Ahmadis lost the right to call themselves Muslim or to perform Islamic rituals.
Once the Ahmadi issue was dealt with, the focus of sectarian violence shifted in mid-late 1980s.
March 23, 1987: The first incident of sectarian aggression targeting ‘mainstream’ Muslims occurred when Ahl-i-Hadith leader Allama Ehsan Elahi Zaheer, along with others, was killed in a blast.
1988: Arif Hussain, the leader of Tehrik-i-Nifaze Fiqha-i-Jafaria was assassinated.
1990: Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, the founder of Sipah-i-Sahabah, was murdered.
Whose Islam is it anyway?
For years extremist Sunni organisations have been persistent with their demand of declaring Shias as a non-Muslim minority. Even today, these organisations distribute pamphlets which call for ousting of Shias from Islam. People with extremist mindsets are blinded by hate and insecurity. They call themselves Muslim but fail to comprehend that Islam urges to protect the rights of minorities. Those who argue that Ahmadis are not just an ordinary ‘minority,’ are hypocrites, and should remember that if they continue to nurture this argument, they would annihilate us one day. After persecuting Ahmadis, and killing Shias, the extremists would fight among themselves on petty issues such as not showing their ankles during prayers because one sect considers it part of the faith, while the other considers it an inconsequential act. In fact, a man was killed for that very reason by the Taliban in Swat a couple of years ago.
Sadly, not only the police force, but the politicians have also turned a deaf ear to the increasing threat to the lives and property of Ahmadis in Faisalabad.
Dayan further added that Human Rights Watch will formally write to him about the situation.
Incidentally, on the same day, CM Sharif communicated with Indian journalist Barkha Dutt about the name change of Faisalabad saying that:
@BDUTT Lyallpur has become Faisalabad
One can’t put help feeling that this tone shows a that the politician doesn’t care about the threatened minorities of his province. A politician of his calibre should foresee that inciting hate against Pakistan’s most persecuted group will worsen the situation.
It is worth mentioning that historically Punjab has been the province that spearheaded the anti-Ahmadi movement. During the 1953 anti-Ahmadi riots, it was widely claimed that the Punjab government of Mumtaz Daultana supported the riots to divert attention from its failed economic policies.
Keeping a volatile history in view, turning a blind eye to the issue of death threats is akin to sanctioning the irrational hatred and killing of the innocent people.
It is time to realise that the gangs of armed men in religious garb are greater threat to the peace and stability of religion and Pakistan as opposed to the peaceful minority.
Sixty-four years on, sectarian divisions run so deep in our society that one cannot help but ask the question:
If Pakistan were not created in the name religion, would things have been different today?
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.