Mr Prime Minister, do you support religious bigotry?

Published: February 28, 2015
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Ameer Hamza addressing 53rd Fatah Mubahala wo Kahtam - e -Nabuwat Conference at Awan e Iqbal. PHOTO: INP

“Qadianiat is a cancer; there is no treatment except operation.” PHOTO: FAHEEM YOUNUS Ameer Hamza addressing 53rd Fatah Mubahala wo Kahtam - e -Nabuwat Conference at Awan e Iqbal. PHOTO: INP

Dear Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,

I hope this letter finds you well. I am sure you are busy; so let me cut to the chase.

You know well that Pakistan’s Ahmadi community has long faced the wrath of extremist religious clerics. Despite succeeding in hijacking Jinnah’s vision, and pressurising the state into incorporating anti-Ahmadi bigotry into the Constitution and law, these clerics have continued to demonise, spread hate and incite violence against the Ahmadis. The group currently at the forefront of this witch-hunt is Pakistan’s Khatam-e-Nabuwat organisation. Whereas this organisation claims to uphold the honour of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), it does everything under the sky against his teachings of peace, tolerance and respectful difference of opinion.

Ahmadis are already denied their freedom of speech, worship, assembly, and even identity in Pakistan. The Khatam-e-Nabuwat group, however, is not pleased with just this. It holds conferences on a regular basis, calling on governments and the public to banish and boycott Ahmadis even further. Through these forums, extremist Mullahs also call for increased violence against the Ahmadis, some even issuing death edicts against them.

Sir, it is very disappointing to note that your party has consistently aided these radical clerics in their bigoted anti-Ahmadi agenda. When mullahs demanded that the name of my hometown – Rabwah – be forcibly changed to Chenab Nagar against the wishes of its residents, the then Punjab chief minister, Shahbaz Sharif, immediately appeased the Mullahs. In 2008, when all 23 Ahmadi students from Punjab Medical College were rusticated due to their faith, the Punjab government under Mr Sharif turned a blind eye again. Fearful of upsetting the radical right, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has always participated in, and even sponsored, anti-Ahmadi hate conferences across the country.

In January of 2012, leaders of your political party attended an anti-Ahmadi rally demanding Ahmadis evict their place of worship in Rawalpindi.

“That time is near when Muslims will kick out all Qadianis from Pakistan”, was the popular call from clerics at this rally.

Mr Prime Minister, you are well aware of your party’s role in abetting sectarian hate. You have personally been guilty of this crime. In 1989, you sent a message to a similar anti-Ahmadi hate conference in Chicago, boasting about your government’s role in suppressing the civil rights of the Ahmadis.

In short, your political party has a long history of appeasing to extremists and sectarian outfits, while turning a blind eye to the continued violence against our minorities.

Then came what some described as Pakistan’s “9/11 moment”.

The brutal killing of 135 innocent kids was indeed one of the heaviest in an endless list of tragedies we have had to endure in recent times. Your government was quick to formulate committees and announce a National Action Plan – an anti-terrorism program to crack down on growing sectarianism and terrorism in the country. Your plan rightly identified hate speech by religious clerics, and the open distribution of sectarian hate literature, as a crucial factor in the prevalent culture of intolerance and extremism. Your government seemed to have finally realised that terrorism cannot be defeated if the extremist ideology behind it continues to flourish. The committee rightly noted that this ideology of hatred and intolerance – rabid Mullaism – needed to be subdued, and wanton hate speech emanating from some of our mosques and madrassas had to be checked.

Was your government serious in its resolve?

Was it finally going to side with the victims of Pakistan’s extremism problem?

We all wondered.

Just days after the Peshawar attacks, however, controversial TV host Mr Aamir Liaquat allowed a panel of clerics on his show to accuse Pakistan’s patriotic Ahmadiyya community of sponsoring terrorism in the country. Ahmadis were labelled “Jewish agents”, traitors and “the enemy” of the state on his show. Consequently, an innocent Ahmadi farmer was gunned down in the Punjab. Despite this incitement and hate speech on national TV, there were no repercussions to Mr Liaquat’s reckless provocation. This was the first sign for me that your government was not serious in its stated resolve to fight extremism.

Then, just yesterday, a similar hate conference was held in Aiwan-e-Iqbal Lahore to bash the Ahmadis. Guess who presided over this meeting? Your very own PML-N MPA, Mr Muhammad Ilyas Chinioti.

Mr Chinioti is well known for his hatred of the Ahmadiyya community – and for his corruption. In an anti-Ahmadi conference in 2008, he proclaimed:

“Qadianiat is a cancer; there is no treatment except operation.”

In 2009, Mr Chinioti called for an armed jihad against the Ahmadis, referring to them as “the worst enemies of Islam and Pakistan”. Then in 2012, he called on the Pakistan Army to outlaw Ahmadis from the institution. Despite all evidence of his despicable comments and blatant bigotry, he continues to enjoy a high position in your party. So much for your fight against hate speech.

In the latest hate conference held yesterday, Mr Chinioti used threatening language against the Ahmadi Muslims. The mullah lamented that merely declaring the Ahmadis as non-Muslim was not enough.

“They must give up their faith and become Muslim or face consequences,” he threatened.

This anti-Ahmadi hate conference was also attended by retired judges of Pakistan’s superior courts – Khawaja Muhammad Sharif, Nazir Ahmed Ghazi and Khalid Mahmood. It is not surprising that the first two are also legal counsel for respected Salman Taseer’s murderer Mumtaz Qadri. Right-wing writer Orya Maqbool Jan, Jamatud Dawa (JuD) leader Amir Hamza, Abdul Hafeez Makki and Maulana Ahmed Ali Sira also attended.

It is disconcerting to note that while your government refuses to permit Ahmadis to gather for peaceful assembly, your parliamentarians continue to issue vile threats against them at such anti-Ahmadi hate conferences carried out across the Punjab.

Mr Prime Minister, I want to believe that you are serious in your resolve to fight hate speech and sectarianism in Pakistan. I want to believe that you have changed since your 1989 anti-Ahmadi statements. Please help me. Take this simple litmus test to prove your sincerity.

If the National Action Plan is anything but hypocritical ink on sham paper, set an example by holding your MPA Mr Chinioti accountable for shamelessly presiding over a hate conference against Pakistan’s peaceful Ahmadis. This action will be in accordance with multiple clauses of your National Action Plan.

And if you refuse to take action, it will be clear that nothing has changed for you post-Peshawar attack.

By continuing to sponsor the hate culture that nourishes terrorism, your government continues to fail the children of Peshawar.

Best regards,

A concerned Pakistani

kashif.chaudhry

Kashif Chaudhry

A graduate of King Edward Medical University, Lahore and Mt Sinai University Hospital in New York, Kashif is currently completing his Cardiology fellowship in Boston, USA. He writes for various American newspapers and Pakistani publications and blogs at the Huffington Post. His interests include medicine, human rights and interfaith dialogue. He tweets @KashifMD (twitter.com/KashifMD)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Anonymous

    Who cares……we are busy commenting on the Muslim guy thrashed in India, we are more concerned about the Muslims of India, so no time to look into our affairs. So, can’t comment on this..Recommend

  • wb

    Ahmadis will get no sympathy from either Indians or Pakistanis.

    Why?

    Ahmadis today claim two things: that they’re the most religious tolerant group among Muslims and they’re required to be loyal to the country they live in.

    Let’s go back some 70 years. Ahmadis were at the forefront of creation of Pakistan solely on the basis of intolerance towards people of other religion. And the creation of another country itself proves that they don’t remain loyal to the country they live in.

    So, I guess the adage “you sow what you reap” was written specifically for Ahmadis.

    No?Recommend

  • Tariq

    “And the creation of another country itself proves that they don’t remain loyal to the country they live in.”

    Yes they weren’t loyal to the British. Is this a bad thing?

    Still mad that Pakistan gained independence from those denying them rights? Heh, never change…Recommend

  • Jamshed Rustomjee Adamjeewala.

    Mr. Chaudhry, please be advised. Pakistanis are forever looking at their govt.
    to end these despicable horrors. You can take your pick from a list composed
    by the devil himself. Nawaz has promised to crack down, obliterate terrorism.
    numerous times. It will not happen. He has shown himself to be a venal opportunist. The hallmark of most politicians in the Land of the Pure. Man lacks leadership skills.
    Sharif’s embrace of an even more rigid Islamization is a populist attempt to hide the failure of his rule. For the third time. This is the man, a portege of Zia ul Haq,
    who wanted to be crowned the Ameerul Momineen of Pakistan..
    Sadly enough your plea for justice, fairness and equal treatment will not bear.
    In a way, a distinguished well informed person like you already knows this. The
    words that can describe your veracity, your courage your bravery have not been
    invented yet.
    May God watch over you and keep you in the palm of his hand.Recommend

  • Mohamed Boodhun

    These people are buying their own destruction. “He who kills with the sword shall perish by the sword”Recommend

  • Rifat ullah

    Looks like the Swami mullah has a new poison laced dictat.Recommend

  • Jasvinder Singh Marwaha

    Do you expect the Prime Minister to dare to reply to this question?Recommend

  • Faizan

    Yes Ahmadies even created taliban as they helped in the creation of Pakistan
    what a geniusRecommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    Owned by Saudi Arabia. Fed by them. Dependent on them. I don’t think he has done anything against Saudi directiveRecommend

  • Rifat ullah

    Swami mullah, be happy in your preaching. Even Modi will be
    proud. A true son of India. A pure image of Nathuram GodseRecommend

  • wb

    You’re bringing things that are not said in Quran. Quran is perfect and a complete way of life. And by bringing outsider knowledge, you’re disgracing Islam.Recommend

  • ITouchTheFuture

    Dr. Chaudhry’s article is a painful reminder of the tragic weakness in Pakistan’s political leadership in the last five decades or so: a spinelessness when called upon to enunciate and enforce the rights of all, as envisioned by Pakistan’s founding fathers.

    The Second Amendment of 1974 (declaring Ahmadis to be non-Muslim) was itself a violation of the freedom-of-religion clause in the Constitution. Yet lawmakers of every stripe and hue did not hesitate to gleefully jump on the legislative bandwagon when the matter was being decided in the National Assembly, forty years ago. Interestingly, after months of so-called deliberations, lawmakers could not find a single passage in the Quran or in Hadith on which to hang their abominable hat; they had to settle for excommunication of the Ahmadis by ‘majority vote’! Imagine that, if you will: a legislative body deciding religious matters, and that, too, in willful violation of the Constitution!

    There has followed the inexorable descent into the maelstrom that we see now engulfing Pakistan: violence at every turn, hate-filled actions and speeches in the public arena and in the halls of power.

    An effective response to the Peshawar tragedy presents a thorny dilemma to Pakistani leaders. Condemning the gory mentality behind the attack requires standing up to the foul-mouthed demagogues who whip up public sentiment toward the ‘other’; but that same venom-laced mullah diatribe is identical to anti-Ahmadi polemics of the past and present! (Look no further than the Lahore meeting the author points out.) No leader in Pakistan dares say anything publicly that might mitigate the plight of the long-suffering Ahmadis one iota!

    I will heartily applaud any Pakistani leader who has the courage to repeal the disastrous Second Amendment and declare that the State will not interfere in matters of faith from that point on.

    I am not holding my breath.

    Peace to all who promote harmony!Recommend

  • SNLDallas

    Mr. Nawaz Sharif Prime Minister of Islamic republic Pakistan.
    Very humbly I am requesting to you please, read the Holy Quran in which Allah says in chapter 5 verse 33, “whosoever killed a person – unless it is for
    killing a person or for creating disorder in the land – it shall be as if he
    had killed all mankind”. After this, I don’t think any more words needed. I am sure as a Muslim you follow the teaching of Islam and stop this nonsense. Every Muslim or even every human being want to do some good deeds in his lifetime so he can face his lord on the day of judgement. All these Mullahs has no fear of Allah and openly spreading hate and asking Muslims to kill innocents. They himself never pay attention on teaching of Islam. May Allah gives strength to you Mr. President to stop these kind of gathering and save Pakistan. May Allah bless and save Pakistanis to follow the wrong doers.Recommend

  • Tariq

    Hows this then?
    ““If anyone slays a person, it would be as if he slew the whole people:
    and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the
    whole people.”
    Qur’an 5:32Recommend

  • Kalpana

    Mr/Ms Wb, Ahmadis are NOT persecuted in India.Recommend

  • Salma

    Quran may be perfect. What about your knowledge? You rant that Ahmadis are not wanted in India. Do you know how much they love Abdus Salam? Heard of him?Recommend

  • siesmann

    President?!!Recommend

  • siesmann

    Mullah-fraternity is the KKK of Pakistan.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    Supporting religious bigotry and religious extremists of all stripes…

    Recommend

  • sta

    The one, single and sole general of the Pakistan Army who laid down his life for Pakistan, “in combat”, happens to be an Ahmadi. Most Pakistanis have perhaps, never even heard the name of Major General Iftikhar Janjua. That’s because they don’t teach such stuff in Pakistan Studies. Today, Pakistan’s heroes are not those who died for Pakistan, but those who have the blood of 60,000 Pakistanis on their hands, who massacre children in schools and those who play football with the decapitated heads of Pakistan Army soldiers.Recommend

  • sta

    The one, single and sole general of the Pakistan Army who laid down his life for Pakistan, “in combat”, happens to be an Ahmadi. Most Pakistanis have perhaps, never even heard the name of Major General Iftikhar Janjua. That’s because they don’t teach such stuff in Pakistan Studies. Today, Pakistan’s heroes are not those who died for Pakistan, but those who have the blood of 60,000 Pakistanis on their hands, who massacre children in schools and those who play football with the decapitated heads of Pakistan Army soldiers.Recommend

  • sta

    Following the Munir-Kiyani Judicial Inquiry in 1953, the “Majlis-e Ahrar-e Hind”, known commonly as the Ahrar, and also known for having been rabidly “anti-Jinnah”, were found guilty of trying to “undo Pakistan”. The Ahrars were also the first ones to dub Quaid-e-Azam “Kafir-e-Azam”. They conveniently changed their name to “Majlis Tahaffuz-e Khatme Nubuwwat” and got away with it. Their soul-brothers, the “Ahrar-ul-Hind”, responsible for a number of recent terrorist attacks in Pakistan, however, continue to retain the name “Ahrar”. In short. the ideology continues. In August 2014, the “Ahrar-ul-Hind” led by Omar Khorasani, merged Ahrar-ul-Hind with other groups of the Taliban, to form the “Jamaat-ul-Ahrar”. Whether, in the garb of “Tahaffuz-e Khatme Nubuwwat” or as “Jamaat-ul-Ahrar”, the foremost objective of the Ahrar – Undo Pakistan – is the soul and spirit of their movement.Recommend

  • wb

    First of all, read all my comments. I never said Ahmadis are not wanted in India.

    However, I standby my statement that any Muslim from Pakistan is not wanted in India.

    Even I love Abdus Salam. What’s your point?Recommend

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  • observer

    What an irony! Ahmadis were strong proponents in the creation of Pakistan by adopting a strong anti-Hindu bigoted view. Now, they have been cast as infidels in the Pakistani constitution and are being killed practicing their faith while the Ahmadis in India are peacefully practicing their Quadianiat without any fear of being killed.Recommend

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