The Unrestrained, Unwavering Ideology In Pakistan
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of its editors.
Historically, in Pakistan, religious and political forces have forcibly been driving the society into a fundamentalist mindset and subjecting it to their own objectives. In fact, the Muslim majority of the country initially faced severe discrimination and exploitation under the British Raj and by the non-Muslim majority in pre-partition India, particularly after 1857. During partition, Muslim and non-Muslim leaders used this very discrimination as a tool to provoke and instigate the respective communities for political drives. Religion played a key role during the partition of India in 1947. Consequently, after the partition, state-supported religious forces highjacked the social systems in both new-born countries.
At its birth, Pakistan was a Muslim majority state but definitely not an ‘Islamic Republic’. Unfortunately, very soon after, political forces in Pakistan officialised the national flag by dividing it into majority and minority colors, which implicitly strengthened the idea of “majority rule”, even though explicitly it was stated that non-Muslims should have equal rights and status in their beloved homeland. Sadly, the extremist ideology practised by certain religious fundamentalists in Pakistan extended hatred and emphasised differences among the native communities.
After the formation of Pakistan, the defeated religious forces and assemblages started to fan various communal issues in order to regain their position in the socio-political environment of Pakistan. Jamiat-i-Ulima-i-Islam, Jamaat-i-Islami and Ihrar have actively been participating in spreading hatred in Pakistani society by exploiting Islam. They divided the nation on the basis of extremist communal ideologies and used Islam for their own purposes. Political and authoritative regimes used the influence and the street power of the so-called mullahs to strengthen their regimes, resulting in irreversible losses to Pakistani society. From the start, Sunni, Shia, Barelvi and Ahmadiyya issues bifurcated the social fabric of Pakistan.
Unfortunately, Pakistani society has also served as a nurturing ground for over 72 militant and extremist organisations, including Sipah-i-Sahaba, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Lashkar-i-Taiba and Sipah-i-Muhammad. Seeing how these organisations are often able to raise funds openly, by placing donation boxes in shops and public places, it feels as if Pakistani society has accepted the objectives and fundamentalist services of these militant groups. The extremist ideologies of so-called mullahs and extremist groups have divided the entire nation of Pakistan into sects, ideologies, creeds, beliefs and religious fanaticism, causing a certain radicalisation in Pakistani society. Every individual is ready to impose his own religious ideology on others while not being ready to honour others’ religious thoughts, beliefs and philosophies. This religiously bifurcated society is a hazard for the solidarity, peace and prosperity of Pakistan.
With the support of the “Islamic Republic”, mullahs highjacked the peaceful society of the Muslim majority state. Article two of the Constitution is contrary to the modern state system. This article describes Islam as the state religion of Pakistan, while religion belongs to citizens as their own personal matter. Moreover, it seems that in Pakistan, the definition of Islam is derived from the Constitution, not Islam’s own authentic sources.
In this alarming and critical situation, Ahmadis are the most suffering community in Pakistan, as politicians and mullahs have always used the Ahmadiyya card whenever they have been faced with socio-political quandaries. To discriminate the Ahmadiyya community, anti-Ahmadiyya laws, particularly the “Anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance” by the so-called “ameer-ul-momineen” General Zia-ul-Haq were executed. To contain Ahmadis, General Zia empowered religious fanatics and poisoned the religious harmony with his imprudent policies and laws.
During the 11 years of Zia’s authoritarian regime, he specially targeted the Ahmadi community and inflicted upon them irrevocable damages. His Ordinance XX, 1984, was an ill-intentioned means to prolong his regime by obliging the radicalised religious groups.
Today, madrasas in Pakistan are being used to promote hate against Ahmadis. Repugnant anti-Ahmaidyya literature “Rad-i-Qadiayaniyat course” is a part of madrasa syllabus, and is an instrument to openly foster hatred against Ahmadis. The graduated madrasa students further stimulate anti-Ahmadiyya sentiments in Pakistani society by invoking social discrimination and hatred against Ahmadis, even though such attitude is contrary to real Islamic teachings, which promotes tolerance and peace. The illiterate masses only follow the extremist mullahs, qaris, huffaz and clerics, and cause devastation to a peaceful and prosperous ‘Muslim’ society.
Pakistan has more than half a million Ahmadi citizens. Rabwah, being the centre of Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan, consists of a population of about one hundred thousand with a 100 percent literacy rate. In 1948, Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad established Rabwah city for Ahmadis. Seeing as “Rabwah” is a word from the Holy Quran, in 1999, the Punjab Assembly changed the name of the city to Chenab Nagar without the consent of the inhabitants. This resolution was moved in Punjab Assembly by an anti-Ahmadiyya activist Maulana Manzoor Ahmad Chinioti.
Increasingly after the anti-Ahmadiyya campaigns and riots of 1953, 1974, and 1984, socio-political and economic discrimination against Ahmadis on communal basis have increased the community’s sufferings. They have no religious freedom to practise or preach their beliefs, offer prayers, or construct their worship places, and their literature is banned by the government. Worst, Ahmadis have no platform to respond to the large number of allegations made against them.
Mostly the national electronic and print media is reluctant to highlight the miseries of Ahmadis in Pakistan. Instead, many newspapers publish anti-Ahmadiyya material and news which multiplies the hatred against Ahmadis. Every year, the newspapers on 7 September offer the worst examples of this. The weekly journal ‘Khatm-i-Nabuwat’ constantly raises anti-Ahmadiyya sentiments and fosters hatred against Ahmadis but the government remains silent. Moreover, if Ahmadis raise their voices against this persecution in international media or other forums, they are labeled as traitors and conspirators.
The misuse of blasphemy laws against Ahmadis is a serious issue and a major reason for insecurity among the Ahmadis of Pakistan. Ahmadi doctors, lawyers, professors and highly skilled professionals are at risk. Ahmadi students, particularly employees, face grave discrimination and exploitation in society, and have fewer opportunities, promotions and prospects of professional growth than non-Ahmadi students. This is despite the fact that since 1947, not even a single Ahmadi is found guilty of any anti-Pakistan activity. It is a tragedy that all four pillars of the state have failed to provide protection to preserve the social, political and religious rights of Ahmadis in Pakistan. The entirely anti-Ahmadiyya verdict of March 2018 by Chief Justice Islamabad High Court, Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, is another illustration of conflicts with the Constitution and the Human Rights Charter, but no voice was raised to counter this fierce and ridiculous judgement.
The hateful anti-Ahmadiyya material, labels, stickers, banners, pamphlets etc. reflect the narrow mindset and radicalisation of Pakistani society. For example, slogans such as “Ahmadis are not allowed in shops”, “Without any argument I consider Mirzais kafirs”, “Qadianis are wajib-ul-qatal” etc. touted by individuals in hostels, colleges, universities, shops etc. clearly demonstrate how rigid and fanatical student unions with political support are playing their role to target Ahmadi students and people.
Article 10-A of the Constitution gives the right to fair trial to a person. Yet, IHCR’s fact-finding report of 2017 stated that “Ahmadis are also denied the basic right to a fair trial. The vast majority of the offenses committed against Ahmadis go unpunished.” This is enough to bolster criminal activities against the Ahmadiyya community. The incidents in Lahore in 2010 and the recent killings of 5 Ahmadis in KPK over the last three months are its worst examples.
In Pakistan, it is a social, religious and political tradition to use the Ahmadi card to get attention, consideration, political mileage and economic benefits. Bhutto and Zia’s regimes and religious assemblages used the Ahmadi card to get socio-political benefits. Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir Raja Farooq Haider, Ch. Parvez Elahi and Raja Parvez Ashraf’s speeches during their election campaigns are on record to validate the facts. Furthermore, to exhibit their street power, religious accumulations like Ihrar, JI and JUI have always used the Ahmadi issue to acquire the support of the masses.
As a result of the vicious legislation and rigid social environment since 1984, 373 Ahmadis have been killed, 395 assaulted for their faith, 29 Ahmadiyya worship places demolished, 43 sealed, 18 occupied, the construction of 59 barred by the authorities and 25 set on fire. Furthermore, according to the reports, 765 Ahmadis have been booked for reciting or otherwise professing kalima, 38 for calling the azan, 447 booked for posing as Muslims, 161 booked for using Islamic epithets, and many hundreds of others for the “crimes” of offering prayers and saying salam. In their daily lives, Ahmadis face severe exploitation and are threatened with certain decimation. They are not allowed to conduct their annual conventions, open meetings, games and religious activities.
All of this is in spite of the fact that Ahmadis have always remained faithful with the state of Pakistan. Their services in the Pakistan movement and in Kashmir Committee were remarkable. The role of Sir Zafrullah Khan, M. M. Ahmad and Dr. Abdul Salam etc. are incredible. In fact, the anti-Ahmadiyya ideology is the agenda of anti-Pakistan forces. Religious harmony can only be attained by mutual respect. Only, with the spirit of true tolerance can we make Pakistani society peaceful and prosperous, such that every Pakistani contributes beyond religion or sect in the development and prosperity of our beloved homeland.