By Shehla Ahmad
In the wake of the recent and tragic attack at a school in Peshawar which resulted in over 130 innocent children being massacred, many seemed optimistic that this sad incident may become a turning point in opening the eyes of the Pakistani nation against their real enemy. However, after only a few days on December 22, Geo TV Pakistan aired a morning show hosted by Aamir Liaquat Husain. In this program one of his guest speakers, a cleric, incited clear hatred against Ahmadis by declaring them as common enemy of Pakistan and as blasphemers. It was shocking to see audience clapping at his hate filled baseless allegations. The clerics also accused the Ahmadis to be responsible for the Peshawar school attack, an unjustifiable allegation in itself despite the fact that Tehreek e Taliban has already proudly taken responsibility for this horrific attack.
On December 24 Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in an apparently powerful speech announced the National agenda for counter terrorism. He announced that government will uproot extremism/terrorism and ban its spread from all media outlets. But still why has no regulatory authority taken any notice of GEO TV’s morning show on air just a few days ago? Was that not an effort to divert attention from the real enemy (extremists) by putting the blame of terrorism on the Ahmadis, while they are always patriotic to their motherland? It is a pity that the said program denouncing the Ahmadis aired on a TV channel with national and international coverage, near the birthday of the founding father of Pakistan, Quaid e Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who was a strong advocate of equal rights for all citizens in the newborn country gaining its independence as a result of his struggle. In his Pakistan an Ahmadi was his first foreign minister.
This incident whereby clerics are openly inciting violence against Ahmadis is a test for the government, after loud claims by the Prime Minister to stop hate speech at every outlet. The government’s silence on this issue only shows its lack of commitment to stop extremism at its roots. It shows that people in Pakistan generally are being openly misguided and are vulnerable to the hate based propaganda, including women (a large majority of audience applauding the hate speech in the program were women). This is shocking for me as it was my false impression that Pakistani women are more open minded. This hints at fearful prospects for the future generations.
See more: Eradicating extremist ideology
Aamir Liaquat Husain has a track record of inciting violence against Ahmadis. He aired a similar hate filled program in 2008 in which his guest, another so-called cleric, openly asserted that Ahmadis are “Wajibul qatl”, i.e. “it is obligatory to kill them” which resulted in the murder of two members of the Ahmadi Community within 48 hours. And this time again within days of the hate speech in his program, an Ahmadi (aged 27) was killed in Gujranwala Pakistan on December 27.
Ahmadis stood by Pakistan after the horrific attack at the Peshawar school. The Worldwide Head of the Ahmadi Community Mirza Masroor Ahmad described the attack as barbaric which has left humanity in despair.
Pakistanis should know that their common enemies are extremists and hate mongers, falsely preaching hatred in the name of religion.
When will Pakistan recognize its real enemy and learn to value life of all citizens, and all humans, regardless of their faith? When will all citizens be treated equal? When will Pakistan stand against those who incite people to violence through hate speeches? By tolerating hatred for so called “weak segments”, people of Pakistan are strengthening a hate culture which I am afraid will have no end if left unchecked.
Ahmadis always resort to prayers and patience in response to persecution. Pakistani Ahmadis will always be loyal to their country, and will always live by their motto: “love for all; hatred for none”.
But when will Pakistan realize? Is it already not too late? I hope rejection of violence and hate speech goes beyond social media trends demanding an end to #AamirLiaqatSpreadingViolence. Will the silent majority of Pakistan ever speak up?