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Pakistan is no country for Ahmadis

Pakistan is no country for Ahmadis

The voice of minorities in Pakistan continues to be silenced, with the Imran Khan-led government announcing that no member of the Ahmadiyya community will be appointed to the minority commission.

Responding to reports that the Cabinet has approved a decision to include an Ahmadis as a non-Muslim member in the commission, Pakistan's Religious Affairs Minister Noor-ul-Haq Qadri has made it clear that nobody from the community would be appointed.

The reports kicked off heated debates on the social media and news channels of Pakistan with the fundamentalists going berserk at the prospect of Ahmadis being given an opportunity to represent themselves.

“The opening of Ahmadis’ Pandora box is beyond understanding. The Ahmadis neither accept themselves as non-Muslim minority nor do they accept the constitution of Pakistan. Under these circumstances, favoring Ahmadis is a joke with Pakistan that is unacceptable," Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PMll-Q), told a news channel.

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Pushed on the back-foot, it was obvious that Haq Qadri had to issue a clarification. “We strongly believe in the finality of the prophethood and will never compromise on it. Pakistan’s Constitution is supreme and the government won’t allow any unlawful appointment to occur," Qadri told Samaa News.

It was in 2014 that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had ordered a formation of a national commission for minorities' rights to oversee their concerns and protect their places of worship.

“A National Council for Minorities’ Rights be constituted. The function of the said Council should inter alia be to monitor the practical realization of the rights and safeguards provided to the minorities under the Constitution and law. The Council should also be mandated to frame policy recommendations for safeguarding and protecting minorities’ rights by the Provincial and Federal Governments,” the court had ordered.

However, successive governments in Pakistan have continued to shockingly ignore the repeated crimes against the minorities, which comprise not just Hindus and Christians but also Sikhs, Ahmadis, Parsis, etc.

So, who are the Ahmadis, really and why are they hated so much in Pakistan?

A religious literacy project by the Harvard Divinity School delves deep into the issue: "The Ahmadiyya movement, founded in British India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1836-1906), is regarded as heterodox by the majority of Sunni and Shi’a Pakistanis. Ahmadiyya Muslims have been marginalized, discriminated against in various ways, and sometimes violently oppressed. After decades of agitation on the part of the Jamaat-e-Islami and other Islamist groups, Ahmadis were categorized as a non-Muslim minority in national law in 1974—a view held by the majority of Pakistanis today—and constitutional reforms in 1973 barred an Ahmadi from holding the presidency.

"As a result of these laws, Pakistani police have destroyed Ahmadi copies of and commentaries on the Qur’an, banned the profession of faith (kalima) on Ahmadi gravestones, prohibited the construction of Ahmadi mosques, and even forbade the use of the term masjid by an Ahmadi, among other prohibitions, the project study says. “Ahmadi Muslims have also been targeted with violence by groups such as the Pakistani Taliban. Nonetheless, individual Ahmadis and Ahmadi organizations are active in educational, missionary, and community efforts worldwide."

Reports have also emerged how, after being tortured for decades in Pakistan, the Ahmadis are escaping to neighboring countries like Nepal.

“Ahmadis have no religious freedoms in Pakistan and recent actions taken by the authorities mean that the situation is going to deteriorate even further and make it impossible for Ahmadis to carry on with their everyday lives,” their spokesman Saleem ud Din had said in a statement to Reuters, last year.

The latest move by the government has further pushed the community into a dark, uncertain future.

"Leave aside everything else but the need to issue this statement in the middle of a pandemic when humanity needs to come together?! I can’t even… And then the audacity to place Jinnah’s photo behind himself, who’d made an Ahmedi, Zafarullah Khan, the Foreign Minister, no less," said lawyer and writer Ayesha Ijaz Khan while commenting on the video statement made by the State Minister Ali Muhammad Khan.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet">
<p dir="ltr" lang="en">Leave aside everything else but the need to issue this statement in the middle of a pandemic when humanity needs to come together?! I can’t even…

And then the audacity to place Jinnah’s photo behind himself, who’d made an Ahmedi, Zafarullah Khan, the Foreign Minister, no less. <a href="https://t.co/vBVvaStJC7">https://t.co/vBVvaStJC7</a></p>
— Ayesha Ijaz Khan (@ayeshaijazkhan) <a href="https://twitter.com/ayeshaijazkhan/status/1255883225567760384?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 30, 2020</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

The battles will continue to be fought online but for the Ahmadiyya population in Pakistan (0.22 per cent), the light at the end of proverbial tunnel is nowhere in sight..