Why are we as Pakistanis okay with Ahmadis getting killed?

Published: April 14, 2016

Back when I was in school, having an Ahmadi classmate only meant engaging in childish arguments with them. Now it means fearing for their lives.

A few days ago, BBC reported that ‘Kill Ahmadis’ leaflets were found at Stockwell Green Mosque, in London. They were authored by a former head of Khatme Nabuwat, and the mosque, expectedly, denied any connection with the leaflets.

This follows the murder of an Ahmadi shopkeeper named Asad Shah in Glasgow last month, because he had allegedly ‘disrespected’ Islam and falsely claimed to be a prophet.

All this took place in England, but things in Pakistan, home to the most powerful anti-Ahmadi sentiment in the world, are even worse. While hate speech against all religious minorities in Pakistan is common, the Ahmadi community is targeted much more regularly.

Quite often, fingers are pointed at a lack of education for this reaction. Additionally, the blame is also put on religious hatred that is preached at the countless seminaries across the country. While this does not cover the entire picture, it is true.

However, how many of us belong to families and social circles that accept Ahmadis? The answer is disappointing, but not surprising.

The anti-Ahmadi sentiment is something most of us have grown up with. While our families and friends may not promote violence, there is a significant sense of internal dislike towards the Ahmadi community. Not only do we rubbish the community’s belief system quite regularly, distasteful jokes about Mirza Ghulam Ahmad are just as common.

During my primary school days, I was friends with quite a few children who belonged to the Ahmadi community. I was not even 10-years-old, but even back then; our minds were drilled to believe that their belief system was not just wrong, it deserved to be ridiculed. It was simply not a matter of debate. There were multiple instances where Ahmadi students were cornered by the teacher, almost entirely during classes for Islamic Studies. The teacher-student dynamics ensured that the student would utter a minor disagreement, but then stay quiet after being reprimanded by the teacher.

The teachers were not the only ones doing this however.

As children, we would have the most inane of religious discussions with our friends belonging to the Ahmadi community, but it all ended with one thing; you are wrong. We are not. That is it.

Back then, it never occurred to us how senseless our take on things was and how this closet aggression towards religious beliefs of the Ahmadi community was doing to children who followed that very belief system. A few years later, still in school but having a bit more capacity to comprehend these things, I noticed that the very same children we put down for their religious beliefs, now refused to engage in such discussions.

In addition to this, there were other children who preferred not to disclose they belonged to the Ahmadi community to begin with, simply because of the response they would receive, no matter how subdued it may be. Even when a student would mention that he belonged to the Ahmadi community, it would be with an element of defensiveness.

Growing up, a large number of these children and their families immigrated abroad. Back then, we thought they only did so for economic reasons. It never occurred to us that it was done because their families did not feel safe in Pakistan. As children, they had only been exposed to subtle dislike. As parents, they had been exposed to visible hatred in Higher Education institutes and workplaces. It is no wonder that by the time I entered university, there were very few students in class who claimed following the Ahmadi faith.

The reason behind this was simple; to avoid being marginalised.

Back when I was in school, having an Ahmadi classmate only meant engaging in childish arguments with them. Now it means fearing for their lives.

At some level, we have all contributed to the marginalisation of the Ahmadi community in Pakistan. Either in school as a group of foolish kid, or as adults where we choose silence over action. Marrying into an Ahmadi family, even in today’s day and age, is next to impossible as far as many of our parents are concerned. Even for the most open-minded of us all, this is a sad reality.

We have the audacity to cry hoarse over the Rohingya Muslim bloodshed, but turn a blind eye towards the mess at home. We can beat the ‘things are changing’ drum in Pakistan all we like, but the ugly truth is that treating the Ahmadi community like equals is something that we will not see in our lifetime, and each and every one of us is to blame for it.

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salman Zafar

Salman Zafar

The writer works in the Education Sector and tweets as @salmanzafar1985 (twitter.com/salmanzafar1985)

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

  • Rohan

    Why are we as Pakistanis okay with Ahmadis getting killed?
    Because of the ideology of PakistanRecommend

  • Read Below

    Most Pakistanis are Bralvhis/Shias/Deobandis/Wahhabis.

    All these sects consider Ahemedis as non-Muslims and their killing is considered OK for the glory of Islam.

    Most Pakistanis are generally OK with the killing of Hindus and Christians also, so the hate is spread evenly without any prejudice.

    Yet, the same Pakistanis want everyone outside Pakistan to love and appreciate them.Recommend

  • nosh

    Very well written article that depicts the core issue in a broad perspective. It has happened because we have donned the position of self proclaimed saviours of Islam with immense self righteousness and having the audacity to be the authority to deal punishments as horrifying as gruesome murder in the name of Islam hence tarnishing our religions image with our own hands. Recommend

  • Tariq mehmood

    A worthless piece of writing by a worthless.
    Quoting childish logic to create a literature out of nothing. Shame!!!!!

  • Iqra

    ok,seriously,this argument is getting really old. Can’t you idiots get this through your thick skulls that just because Ahmedis are(and will always be) non-muslim,they are not supposed to be killed?Recommend

  • bogus

    Imam in Portland, Oregon USA came under scrutiny because he was preaching that it was OK to kill Ahmadis- he shut up after 911 when the govt started to scrutinize what was being taught in the mosque – but it’s an example of how acceptable persecution of Ahmadis has become. It’s also interesting that once the USA govt focused on this Imam he was arrested for Welfare fraud, put on “no fly” list and otherwise has remained quiet. Pakistan should take the hint.Recommend

  • 19640909rk .

    And Allah appointed you to save him from getting shamed?Recommend

  • Umair Rasheed

    That 17% who are disagreeing the above are the ostriches who kept bury their heads in the sand thinking nobody is looking at them. As long as these people are their, the fate of ahmadis would be the same.Recommend

  • SamSal

    Generalization wasn’t that wrong, after all.
    You being a Pakistani Muslim assumed that anyone who tries to show you mirror must be a Hindu.Recommend

  • Rakiba Khan, Mumbai

    Pakistan leadership should take the lead and make amends to constitution giving Ahmadis equal rights..This will the first step to let people know it is not ok to discriminate against them. Until then these hatred and persecutions will continue..Indian Muslims thank Jinnah that he created Pakistan so Indian Muslims can live and grow peacefully.Recommend

  • amir

    Why just stop at school or universities? Same happens at the workplace. I have faced similar situation where my promotion was stopped, to please another righteous senior manager, whom I later found out through another director, because of being an Ahmadi. And no it was not performance related. I left the company soon after that.

    My uncle working for an MNC had a manager circulating hate emails about him. When the gora boss found out, he called the manager that if anything happens or said to my uncle, he will be fired. All stopped. A strict action is required to stop this. But no one here has the courage, less they are also labelled Ahmadis.

    I still remember back in late 70’s when Holy Kabba was attacked by Saudi dissidents, I had a good friend of mine stand up in class and said that Qadianis did it.

    When some of my friends found out I was an Ahmadi, 70% stopped talking to me.

    Now I have strict instructions that my daughters will not be told about being an Ahmadi, till they are old enough to understand.Recommend

  • OSD

    I don’t understand why every negative incident in the whole wide world must be, as a rule, connected to Pakistan somehow! There is some harassment of minorities but haven’t all of us been targeted at some point by these extremists?? More Sunnis have been killed in militant attacks than the combined casualties of all minorities in Pakistan! It’s not to say that our sacrifice is bigger than yours. Stop crying and playing a victim! Become a part of moving ahead instead. That is the way to beat these extremists!Recommend

  • Pro Truth

    No its not OK to kill people and No, its not OK with Pakistanis!Recommend

  • SchadenFreude

    The Ahmadis were at the forefront of the partition of India. Now they are being out-muslimed by other muslims. Who in turn will be out-muslimed by even “better” muslims. This is what comes of making a country based on a religion.
    Watch your back. There’s always someone greener than your shade of green.Recommend

  • gp65

    Yes. Please do. Please quote a single Shiv Sena person who says that Muslims are wajib-ul-qatl or deserve to be killed simply because they are Muslims.
    The population of Muslims in India went up from 9% in 1947 to 14% while the minorities I Pakistan have either been killed, forcibly converted or pushed out.Recommend

  • gp65

    If Jinnah had followed his own instruction, he would not have made a speech stating that Hindus and Muslims are two nations who cannot be yoked together. He would not have asked for a religion on the basis of religion.Recommend

  • gp65

    It is the killing of Ahmadis and the preachers who preach that it is okay to do so, that is shameful. Questioning such hatred, as this article does, is not shameful at all.Recommend

  • gp65

    “SOme” harassment of minorities?No. The constitution of Pakistan discriminates against minorities to begin with. Minorities were 20% of Pakistan at time of partition. Where are they now? Killed, forcibly converted or pushed out of the country.
    Did you know that in the 1941 census Karachi’s population was 51% Hindus and 8% Sikhs? Where are they now? After all Sind was not even partitioned.Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    What’s wrong with the caps lock?Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    Mr Qalam, your tasting your own medicine. Good luck.Recommend

  • Fahimuddin

    Several mistakes in speech, how stupid people made him their big oneRecommend