Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of Ahmadis in Pakistan
Chaudhry Abdul Khaliq, a 50-year-old Ahmadi homeopath was killed with a single gunshot to the head this Monday in the Abul Hasan Ispahani locality of Karachi. This is the second fatal shooting of an Ahmadi in this locality in a three week period and a continuation of the increase in violence against the community since the attack on Darul Zikr by the Punjab Taliban in 2012.
Unfortunately, many of us continue to remain in denial about the treatment of Ahmadis in Pakistan and refuse to accept that the level of discrimination and the slow trickle of violence against them is untenable and unacceptable.
In an attempt to put things in perspective and identify the origins of anti-Ahmadi sentiments, I have put together a chronology of seminal events that shaped the contemporary position of Ahmadis in Pakistani society:
Pakistan – 1953
Ahmadis are a salient facet of Pakistani society. They have the highest literacy rate of any community, are prominent in the civil service and excel as teachers, scientists and military officers.
The Foreign Minister of Pakistan is Sir Zafarullah Khan, an Ahmadi, who drafted the Pakistan Resolution – the famous 1940 declaration by the All India Muslim League calling for the creation of a Muslim State.
Not all, however, are pleased with the accomplishments of the Ahmadis.
The mullah strokes his beard thoughtfully.
The rise of the educated Ahmadi is problematic. The power of the mullah rests on getting people riled up, ready to give their lives for their faith. A version of faith adapted to require mullahs as sentinels of the “correct” form of Islam is preferable. For then, when people are ready to die for Islam, they are ready to die for the mullah.
The mullah writes a book, sort of a Pakistani Mein Kampf. The Ahmadis are a problem; they are perverting the faith and are more loyal to the British than to non-Ahmadis. They consider all non-Ahmadis heretics. They have social and political ambitions that will do no less than destroy the practice of true Islam in Pakistan. The only solution to all this is excommunicating them from Islam.
The mullah gathers a cabal of demagogues who demand the government declare Ahmadis non-Muslims and remove all Ahmadis including Sir Zafarullah Khan from important government posts. The government refuses and the mullah tells his followers to take to the streets.
Hundreds of Ahmadis are killed and shops, houses and places of worship burnt to the ground. The mullah is arrested and sentenced to death. Two months later this is changed to a life-sentence. Two years later the mullah is pardoned-despite his never requesting a pardon or accepting any wrongdoing. His adoring followers see this is a vindication and his popularity grows like never before.
The mullah bides his time.
Pakistan – 1974
On the pretext of an attack on members of the mullah’s political party in Rabwah (the headquarters of the Ahmadis) the mullah launches street protests again. The demand remains the same: declare Ahmadis non-Muslims. The government offers little resistance and the Houses of Parliament pass the bill that makes the Second Amendment part of the Constitution of Pakistan. The mullah has triumphed, Ahmadis have been declared non-Muslims.
Pakistan – 1979
A huge crowd gathers for the mullah’s funeral in Lahore. He is remembered as a true soldier of the faith and the ultimate authority on jihad. A nation weeps.
But neither mullahs nor the state is done with Ahmadis yet.
Pakistan – 1984
General Ziaul Haq promulgates Legal Ordinance 20. No longer can Ahmadis even refer to themselves as Muslims. They cannot say Muslim greetings, cannot cite the Quran or hadith and their places of worship will no longer be known as mosques. The ex-communication is complete.
Pakistan – 2010
Two Ahmadi places of worship are attacked. Ninety four people are killed and a 120 injured. The Pakistani Taliban claim responsibility.
Pakistan – 2012
Two years after it was attacked and its occupants butchered, the administration of Darul Zikr was ordered by a judge to remove the “Kalma” – the bearing of witness that there is one God and Muhammad (PBUH) is the prophet of God upon reciting which one becomes a Muslim. Here are seen the ugly strokes of black hiding the Kalma written on Darul Zikr.
Pakistan – 2014
Pakistan – 2015
Riots erupt in an electronics market in Lahore after the arrest of a shopkeeper who put up a notice refusing entry to Ahmadis.
Pakistan – 2016
Two members of the Ahmadi community are killed in Karachi within the space of three weeks.
As if black paint could hide the faith of the Ahmadis from the light of God’s sun.
Here is the world of intolerance in a grain of sand. Not even cold-blooded mass murder can suffice for those who seek to affirm their faith by denying it to others. It is time to put an end to this callous persecution that finds no justification in the Holy Quran or in the example of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The monopoly of the mullah must end and faith must not be used as a pretext to inflate one’s legend at the expense of the most helpless segments of our society.
Let us all strive to become the means by which Allah (swt) repels those who would tear down the abodes of God whilst claiming they are doing so in His name.
We keep coming up with excuses and rationalisations for the treatment of Ahmadis, yet in the same breath preach tolerance and condemn extremism. We must understand that we cannot have it both ways. The true test of tolerance is the ability to empathise with those we disagree with, to be able to acquire a degree of moral relativism that allows us to shed our sense of moral superiority and cease to look down on others.
The Pakistani State can lay no rightful claim to tolerance or justice till Ahmadis are treated as equal members of society and not stripped of their identity.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.