Will we ever hold Aamir Liaquat accountable for spewing hate?
December 25th has always been an important day for Pakistan. It was on December 25th that our founder – Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah – was born. Officially dubbed Jinnah’s day, many celebrate it by remembering Jinnah’s enduring struggle for freedom and equal rights for the minority Muslim community within United India. Jinnah’s selfless struggle was driven by a passionate sense of respect for human freedom and equality. He dreamt of a state where there was no discrimination, one that stood firm on the values of tolerance, acceptance and pluralism.
It is well known that Ahmadis played a very prominent role in the creation of Pakistan and its subsequent growth. Jinnah was a close friend of the second khalifa of the Ahmadiyya community, Mirza Basheeruddin Mahmud Ahmad, whose support he always enjoyed. It was at the caliph’s orders that the Ahmadi imam, Mr Abdul Rahim Dard, convinced Jinnah to return to India after Jinnah bid farewell to Indian politics and moved to London.
It was another Ahmadi, Sir Zafarullah Khan, who drafted the famous Pakistan Resolution that became the documentary basis for the demand for Pakistan. Jinnah appointed him the country’s first foreign minister. The support for Jinnah was so strongly emphasised by the Ahmadiyya leadership that Ahmadi candidates fighting from certain constituencies withdrew their candidacy in support of Jinnah’s Muslim League.
The overwhelming support from the Ahmadiyya community did not end with the creation of the state. At a time when Pakistan needed every help it could get, Ahmadis gave everything they had for its growth and goodwill. Sir Zafarullah Khan continued to promote a progressive image of Pakistan on the international stage. His disciplined stance on various issues and his impressive advocacy won Pakistan the first presidency at the UN General Assembly in 1962.
The country’s first Nobel laureate, Dr Abdus Salam, also belonged to the Ahmadiyya community. Another prominent Ahmadi, Mirza Muzaffar Ahmad, who was the federal finance minister under Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan, played a key role in the economic development of Pakistan in the 1960s and 70s. His efforts led directly to the success of the Mangla and Tarbela Dam projects. Ahmadis were also at the forefront in defending Pakistan in times of war; General Akhtar Malik and General Abdul Ali Malik are a few names that come to mind. In fact, the only Pakistani general to have ever laid his life during combat was an Ahmadi – General Iftikhar Janjua.
On the other hand, hard-lined clerics like those belonging to the Ahrar Party (and the Jamaat-e-Islami) vehemently opposed Jinnah and his struggle. When they failed to stop Jinnah’s dream from materialising, they turned to hurt the newly found state by continuing to fight his ideals and his vision of a pluralistic and inclusive state.
Almost 70 years after the realisation of Pakistan, we can still see a recap of Jinnah’s struggle on Jinnah’s day.
While Pakistani Ahmadis – including the diaspora – fasted world over and prayed for the progress and wellbeing of Jinnah’s Pakistan, on December 25, 2014, the mullahs continued to fight Jinnah’s vision. They continued to fan the flames of hate and violence. They continued to endorse discrimination and bigotry of minorities – the very evil that led Jinnah to fight for Pakistan. And they did not do this in a small village mosque or town hall. They incited hatred and violence on national television.
On well-known controversial and hate spewing Mr Aamir Liaquat’s morning show Subh-e-Pakistan, a panel of clerics accused Pakistan’s peaceful and patriotic Ahmadiyya community of sponsoring terrorism in the country. Ahmadis were labelled “Jewish agents” and traitors – Muslims were urged to unite against and “recognise this root cause of terrorism”.
It must be remembered that the last time Mr Aamir Liaquat promoted anti-Ahmadi hate speech on the same Geo TV in 2008, two prominent Ahmadi leaders were gunned down in Pakistan. Neither did Geo TV or Liaquat ever apologise for their clear role in incitement of this anti-Ahmadi violence, nor did the state act upon this putting an end to the hate.
After the December 16th attack, the nation has been grappling with methods of alleviating terrorism in the country. There have been debates about how the Friday sermon at mosques should be monitored so as to prevent any hate speech capable of inciting terror. Yet, on December 25th, on national television, a morning show was allowed to air the most irresponsible and provocative statements against the Ahmadiyya community without any repercussion at all? Is this what is expected to happen with the Friday sermons too? Will there ever be any consequences for hate speech?
Luqman Ahad Shehzad, a 27-year-old leader of the Jamaat-i-Ahmadiyya (JA), was shot in the back of the head near Bhiri Shah Rehman village, a small community of Ahmadis in the Gujranwala district on Saturday, just three days after Aamir Liaquat denounced Ahmadis on his show. Shehzad marks the 11th person to have been killed for being an Ahmadi in Pakistan this year. And the third person whose blood marks Liaquat’s hands!
Will we continue to be silent witnesses to such attacks on our patriotic communities? Will we wait for another tragedy in the wake of this disgustful show? Or will we finally muster the courage to speak up and hold Geo TV and Aamir Liaquat accountable for their instigation of hate and violence?
As responsible citizens and as members of Pakistan’s civil society, it is our duty to side with Jinnah’s vision.
Enough of this #AhmadiyyaPhobia.
Enough of this hatred and violence in our name.
We will speak up!
Before the start of the New Year, we must make a choice – an important choice – between supporting Jinnah’s ideals or refusing to speak up in his support; simply put, this is a choice between Jinnah and his enemies. If you are honest in wanting Pakistan to progress and see change, let me see your protest. Let me hear your voice.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.