Does the National Action Plan not apply to Pakistani Ahmadis?

Published: August 6, 2016
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The Shahada being erased from an Ahmadi place of worship by Pakistani police. PHOTO: WIKIPEDIA

A recent report by the Hudson Institute paints a damning portrait of Pakistan as a country where its Ahmadi community is arrested for propagating their faith, has its places of worship destroyed over allegations of blasphemy, has its businesses and products boycotted, and its deceased’s’ graves desecrated with impunity.

This is a Pakistan where police officers are frequently complicit to violence against Ahmadis, the school curriculum panders to prejudice, and it feels like every few weeks new names are added to the list of Ahmadis murdered at the hands of misguided psychopaths who are brainwashed and influenced by Pakistan’s irresponsible, vast and well-oiled media machinery.

The media – electronic and print – has long been complicit in the criminalisation and the erasure of the Ahmadi community. Even though Pakistan has its share of liberal and mainstream media, which sometimes breaks its silence and editorialises against the injustices faced by Ahmadis, it is the Urdu-language media that dominates and reaches the critical masses of Pakistan.

A simple Google search of editorial archives comparing the vernacular English media with Urdu publications confirms what most of us have accepted as fact: Urdu media leads, in leaps and bounds, when it comes to slandering the Ahmadi population and broadcasting the false propaganda which often is the motivation for violence.

For instance, an op-ed in a leading Urdu daily reads,

“When the evil (fitna) of Qadianism took root in the Pak-Indian subcontinent at the end of the nineteenth century/beginning of the twentieth numerous notables took it upon themselves to uproot it and crush its head…”

The piece concludes with a call to arms noting that,

“Jihad against Qadianism [is] a jihad against Satanism and imperialism.”

Another popular Urdu publication leads with a bold and provocative headline that alleges:

“Qadianis have conspired to break up Pakistan through support of anti-Islam movements”.

And, as of last week, Urdu media has conquered another unfortunate first with the printing of anti-Ahmadi adverts calling for charitable donations to assist in the mission to eradicate the Ahmadi population.

Broadcast media is no less evil.

Over the years comments by televangelists like Aamir Liaquat have led to supporters blindly following their favourite commentators. The result is violence, and the murder of Ahmadis in the name of Islam, jihad, and some other deluded reasons conjured up by deluded minds to justify the taking of an innocent human life.

What is striking is that we have no shortage of prima facie and empirical evidence to confirm that Pakistani media has created a hell-on-earth atmosphere for the country’s four million Ahmadis. Today’s Pakistan is no better or worse than the Pakistan of the 50s when riots first surged against Ahmadis, or the Pakistan of the 70s when we amended the constitution in a most deplorable way completely eradicating any chances of peaceful coexistence.

In today’s Pakistan, the media is complicit in all attacks against Ahmadis – attacks that range from low-level assaults and name-calling to the more sinister death threats and coldblooded murder. Assaults that the media has not only encouraged but, in a most macabre fashion, has made eerily palatable and acceptable for mass consumption.

As all my fellow journalists will attest to, the only currency our profession accepts is that of unbiased objectivity. And as journalists, we see daily the way in which human nature is hard-wired to respond to negativity more than positivity. In fact, research indicates that it takes approximately five positive impressions to overcome one negative one. Because the media fraternity has immense amounts of power to control, build, or dismantle impressions and stereotypes, it is not only an ethical obligation but also a professional one that we journalists steer clear of the pejorative, and emotionally loaded labels that only serve to stir up the easily frenzied and mouldable masses.

Anti-Ahmadi editorials and adverts such as the one that appeared last week in a local newspaper tarnishes the reputation of and strips away the credibility that is inherent to a media organisation whose very purpose is to empower, represent, and fairly report on populations in their communities.

It wasn’t too long ago when the American press would run lost and found ads for runaway slaves. Malcolm X was one of the few to have spoken out against the dire consequences for both the psyches and lived experiences of black people who were targeted and turned into scapegoats by the mainstream media during those times.

“This is the press, an irresponsible press,” said Malcolm X.

“It will make the criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal. If you aren’t careful, the newspaper will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

For Ahmadis in Pakistan today, Malcolm X’s grim warning remains distressingly relevant.

The overburdened and marginalised Ahmadis of Pakistan are left to pick up the pieces in the wake of brutality and neglect by media folk – specifically, the media folk who recklessly enjoy positions of power, trust and influence.

What is especially striking is the nonchalance of the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) to take action. It leaves one confused as to why we ever bother to make policy and law in the first place. Take the National Action Plan (NAP) as an example. Even though it was recently enacted specifically to criminalise the proliferation of hate material, there are yet to be criminal charges against anyone running a publication peddling anti-Ahmadi hate.

In the 1970s psychologists developed a series of experiments to demonstrate how emphasising differences between groups leads to mistrust and hostility. One study even found that wearing different coloured shirts was enough for groups to begin displaying signs of mistrust.

In other words, the constant assault on Ahmadis in the mainstream media has conditioned and primed mainstream Pakistani society to know only fear of the ‘other’.

Today, Pakistan is burdened with religious prejudice. By and large, we are a country comprised of a mostly misinformed, poorly educated citizenry that loves to out-Muslims one after another.

While not exactly an earth-shattering revelation, nonetheless, this should chill any God-fearing Pakistani to the bone. It should also offend the conscience of every Pakistani.

The fight for your Ahmadi neighbour’s right to life, liberty and security is nothing short of a fight for justice for any and all other Pakistani citizens.

Indeed, it is inseparable from the struggle for democracy itself.

Maria Kari

Maria Kari

The author is a lawyer and freelance journalist. She tweets as @mariakari1414 (twitter.com/mariakari1414)

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

  • Keyboard Soldier

    Our national identity is setup by the GHQ, which is entirely based on hatred towards the Hindus and unquestionable alliance towards the Saudi version of Islam – which hates shias, ahemdis, christians and jews.

    Not to say had our GHQ adopted the Iranian version, things would be have been the same just that the hate would have been directed towards sunnis, ahemedis, christians and jews. Iran went crazy against the west, therefore, served no purpose.

    Saudis on the other hand had oil and were willing to adopt millions of Pakistanis for a price. We allowed them to take over the mosques, and what you see now is the fully grown fruit of that decision.

    For now the only kafir acceptable to the GHQ is a Chinese, and we can only imagine how long that love affair would last, before the Chinese become a threat to the “national interest.”Recommend

  • Ali Khan

    Had Malcom X been alive today and known that the “Ahamdis” believe that prophethood subordinate to Muhammad (PBUH) is still open today, he would have agreed with majority of the Pakistani Muslims as well. I can see that the Pakistani English media sublimely giving platform to the Ahmadi writers and its sympathizers which is going to be counter-productive and futile in the long run. Thank you.Recommend

  • SD

    Pakistan is very brutal towards its minorities. And it lectures others on human rights Recommend

  • ArifHumayun

    A bold and factual article which deserves a national debate. This matter has been swept under the rug for far too long but will never go away.Recommend

  • wb

    Sorry to say, Ahmadis of Pakistan deserve it. After all they abandoned their own country to create Pakistan.

    Congrats on Karma!Recommend

  • Amir

    A very well written analysis, and no the NAP does not apply to Ahmadis who have to keep suffering at the hands of various parties, religious, political as well as social. Media shy away from highlighting this apathy for fear of attack. Recent eg when Hamza Abbassi raised the question and was banned because of sectarian sentiments. Yet likes of Amir Liaqat can spew their garbage on TV and no one notices this. Even in neighborhood, offices and in schools, most Ahmadis do not disclose their sects.

    Unless and until transparent justice system, not fearing the clergy is in place this will continue. Minorities will have a bad time in the islamic republic of pakistanRecommend

  • wb

    Pakistan is brutal towards minorities or Islam is brutal towards minorities?

    Please tell me one Muslim majority country where non Muslims enjoy equal rights? Not even Turkey. Constitution gives equal rights, but society does not.Recommend

  • Obaidullah Khan

    And Kashmiris were forced to remain in “their” country and facing far more vicious fate than Ahmadis. This proves Ahmadis were right to create Pakistan.Recommend

  • Buniya Slayer

    Ahmadis do believe Prophet Mohammad ( PBUH ) To be the last prophet. They do believe in Mehdi to come in accordance to Quran. Ahamdis believe he has come and you believe has not yet.Recommend

  • Milind A

    More importantly, the Ahmadis are still unwilling to let off this embrace of death with Islamists.. They will still continue to proclaim themselves to be Muslim (the subtext is an alignment with the radical brand of Islam) by pleading loyalty to Ummah, opposing Kafirs like us…and pathetically trying to curry favour with the mainline (Sunni) Muslims (though the later will hate them and disown them)Recommend

  • M Waqas Sajid

    The problem lies in, that, Ahmidis don’t consider themselves as minority in Pakistan. They are falsely portraying themselves as Muslim, as another sect of Islam. Which is completely wrong, thus creating misconceptions for other Muslim. In order to answer this hypocrisy you people see Urdu media acting against this Minority (Ahmidis).Recommend

  • Razzy

    As if it is all roses and petals for the Dalits and Muslims in India!!! Way to go…those living in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    Getting killed on the mere suspicion of eating Beef, housing discrimination, dalits being thrashed when they skin the dead cow, no justice for victims of communal riots since decades, the list is rather longRecommend

  • Razzy

    As if it is all roses and petals for the Dalits and Muslims in India!!! Way to go…those living in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    Getting killed on the mere suspicion of eating Beef, housing discrimination, dalits being thrashed when they skin the dead cow, no justice for victims of communal riots since decades, the list is rather longRecommend

  • wb

    Your evidence is based on assumptions that are not true. So, nothing is proven.

    Besides, what has Kashmiri got to do with Ahmadis? Are you saying that as long as violence doesn’t end in Kashmir, you’ll mistreat Ahmadis?

    How does that logic work?Recommend

  • siesmann

    National debate?One person wanted to debate it,and fatwas came out for his execution.Mullah holds power over life and death in Pakistan(more than God )Recommend

  • siesmann

    The problem is your psychopathological mind !!!And nobody has any misconception about Muslims anymore-terrorists,haters,misogynists.Only Ahmadis portray something positive about goddamed Muslims.Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    There is no Mahdi, that is a Bida invention.Recommend

  • Studebaker

    Pakistani Muslims have a right to protect themselves, other Muslims, and their faith from Ahmadi beliefsRecommend

  • Studebaker

    If Ahmadis are not Muslims why do they insist on being called Muslims?Recommend

  • siesmann

    Right question,indeed. Indeed why would any person wish to remain in Islam. It kills if you want to be Muslim,and it kills if you want to leave it.Recommend

  • siesmann

    For that matter,there is No GOD either.Recommend

  • Patwari

    No need to prove anything to a bunch of hindu trolls.
    Who get paid to write poisonous comments in pro
    Hindia newspaper, like ET.Recommend

  • Lol

    Lol
    It is roses and petals for Dalits and Muslims in India
    They enjoy reservations under education and jobs
    They are given holidays for celebrating their identity
    Please educate yourself before making such absurd statementsRecommend

  • Razzy

    Yeah sure, housing discrimination, being harassed by cow vigilants often ending in death (even when they work with buffaloes), communal riots every now and then, rampant miscarriages of justice when they areon the receiving end due to the inherent bias in the pysche, the writing is on the wall.Recommend

  • Kashi

    Who has the right to declare a man non-Muslim who claims to be a Muslim? None in the world. Neither any individual nor any collected authority…Recommend