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Persecution of Ahmaddiyas in Pakistan

Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic State to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims—Hindus, Christians, and Parsis — but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan – Mohd. Ali Jiinnah

Pakistan was created on the principle of  the Two Nation Theory, seeking a separate state for the Muslim, but with essential freedom and respect for the minorities. Jinnah never aimed for a theocratic state, with no space for the principles such as equality, justice and freedom. But, the unfortunate demise of Jinnah, changed the whole situation. The dreams that Jinnah had for Pakistan ended with his death.  Pakistan caught in the cobweb of political turmoil and instability. This instability led to the military rule in Pakistan, which left no room for democracy.

With the end of the scope for democracy, the principles of democracy such as freedom, equality and justice become mere words with no significance. The constitutional Amendment of 1974 hit the minority rights hardest, especially the Ahmaddiyas. It declared Ahmaddiyas as the non-Muslims minority. Further, with the Ordinance XX,  under the Section 298 (c) into the Penal Code, prohibiting Ahmadis from calling themselves Muslim or posing as Muslims; from referring to their faith as Islam; from preaching or propagating their faith; from inviting others to accept the Ahmadi faith; and from insulting the religious feelings of Muslims. The punishment for violation of this section is imprisonment for up to 3 years and a fine.

Now, the question arises, why Ahmedi folk was targeted specifically under the Ordinace XX. Ahmaddiyas  do not accept prophet Muhammad as the last prophet of Islam. However, Ahmadis consider themselves to be Muslims and observe Islamic practices, which was not acceptable to the rest of the sects of the Muslims in Pakistan. Thus, they are barred to call themselves as Muslim. But, the injustice is not limited to usage of title of Muslim, they are not allowed to build mosques, call Azaan, to undertake Muslim mode of worship, make any citations from the Quran and follow other Muslim practices.

The injustice moved further from the legal to the social sphere as well. The clerics with the constitutional backing, boycotted the Ahmedi folk. They are considered as infidels in the Pakistani society. People are not allowed to socialize and trade with them. Some sections of the Pakistani educational curriculum are against the Ahmaddiyas. This instigates the animosity for the Ahemdi folk right from the beginning in the society.

The situation became gory in Pakistan, when the extremists began attacking the Ahemdi folk.  Lately, the situation turned violent when a boy from Gujranwala, shared an allegedly blasphemous image on Facebook, which angered some residents of the area. The violent goons attacked the houses of Ahmaddiyas, some were burned down by them. The biggest victim of this tragedy is Boota, an Ahmadi man who lost his mother Bashiran Bibi and young daughters Kainat and Hira. His pregnant sister who was visiting from the nearby village of Talwandi Musa Khan for Eid holidays lost her baby in the chaos and fumes during the riot. Several Ahmadis like them has been killed, but no action has been taken against the mob.

Pakistan is following a blind hypocrisy, where at one hand it is empathizing with the plight of the Palestinians, and  on the other hand, instigating violence on the Ahmaddiyas on their own land. To straighten the situation out, two important steps are required, firstly a favourable amendment in the constitution for the minority rights. Secondly, making the necessary alteration in the educational curriculum to put an end to animosity. But, it is up to Pakistan, which path they choose for their future, whether they want Pakistan, Jinnah dreamt of or to continue with the Pakistan what the later leaders made it.

About the Author

picLoveleena Sharma has completed her graduation in Political Science from Delhi College of Arts and Commerce. And, with her ardent interest in International Relations, is now pursuing her Masters in International Relations from the South Asian University. She is interested in subjects like Foreign Policy, Conflict Transformation and Peace Building, South Asian studies, etc. She has earlier interned at DLSA (Delhi Legal State Authority). She has also volunteered at Amaani, for the education of the underprivileged children. She has an inclination towards theatre, and has performed in various competitions during her graduation. She is currently working as the Research Associate for Alexis Centre for Public Policy and International Relations.

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