By Syed Foaad Hassan
Under the light of Quaid’s words, “Minorities to whichever community they may belong; will be safeguarded. Their religion or faith or belief will be secure. There will be no interference of any kind with their freedom of worship. They will have their protection with regard to their religion, faith, their life, their culture. They will be, in all respects, the citizens of Pakistan without any distinction of caste or creed”. Even here Quaid meant Hindus, Sikhs or Christians and tried to give a message that we should get out of this minority/majority thing because now we have a free state where everyone is free. But very soon after his death some religious communities tried to convert Pakistan into a theocratic Islamic state and most of these communities were against the creation of Pakistan like Jammat e Ahrar, a group of Deoband Ullema and Jammat-e-Islami.
Their first target was Ahmadiyya community and somehow after violent struggles and uniting dictators of Islamic countries Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto declared Ahmadis non-Muslims with a constitutional amendment on 7th September 1974 and he proudly stated, “We have solved the Ahmadi problem once and for all.” So afterwards Pakistan became a Kafir factory, where State can decide someone’s religion and impose its laws by violating basic human rights. It was the start of persecution and later on General Zial ul Haq joined the club and imposed ordinance XX to further restrict freedom of Ahmadis to practice their religion that outlaws “posing as Muslims”. The law imposes three-year jail terms on Ahmadis “who directly or indirectly, poses himself as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims”.
It also makes it illegal for Ahmadis to refer to their places of worship as “Mosques”, or their calls to prayer as “Azaan”, in addition to other restrictions.
The 1984 law opened the door for an increase in attacks on the community by mobs and anti Ahmadi groups. Since then hundreds of Ahmadis have lost their lives and laws are being misused against the community. Every year on 7th September Mullahs and state celebrate the declaration and arrange conferences against Ahmadi community and I don’t know where is the Government and security forces who are acting against hate speech? In major cities like Lahore or Rawalpindi you can see banners, stickers on shops and join any conference or Jalsa to witness hate speech against Ahmadis.
But destiny did not support Bhuttoism and Zia’s mission as he stated “I will not rest until I eradicate the cancer of ‘Qadianiyyat’ (Ahmadiyyat) from the world.” Recently during an annual convention of Ahmadis in London it was claimed that more than 500,000 people have entered in the community from across the world and they are spread in 205 countries and every year almost same amount of people joins community from all over the world.
Recently Legislators from both ruling and opposition benches in Pakistan’s Punjab Assembly have severely criticised the statement of former Pakistani diplomat to UK Wajid Shamsul Hasan in which he said that the decision to declare Ahmadiyya a minority in Pakistan was wrong.
An annual convention organized by the Ahmadiyya Community has quickly become a new venue for diplomacy and peace talks. The convention which is called the “Jalsa Salana” takes place in London, U.K., the United States, Germany, and other places around the world. This year Jalsa Salana Canada took place at the International Centre in Mississauga from Aug. 28 to 30. The three-day event was attended by Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper, leader of the Canadian Liberal Party Justin Trudeau, Consul General of Pakistan Asghar Ali Golo, Consul General of India Akhilesh Mishra and many local politicians. The audience included thousands of people from Canada, the US and other parts of the world. Slogans of Takbeer were raised in front of Pakistani counsel general and he responded to that and said “It’s very encouraging for me to see such a large number of Pakistanis, all ambassadors of Pakistan making such a marvelous contribution in a country like Canada, and i am proud to represent my my Pakistani community who have been extremely respected all over the world, especially in Canada.”
So “swords can bend heads but not minds, force can win territories but not hearts”, we stopped a community, persecuted them and still persecuting by all means and they are growing all over the world, now we are targeting Ismaili community, many members of Hazara community have left Pakistan, target killing of Shias is common after all what is our need? We were treated like a persecuted minority in sub-continent and we fought for freedom and gained this beautiful country but this religious extremism is a big shame and failure of State. We claim too much about stopping hate speech and persecution but practically there is nothing like that; those who dare to speak get killed like Salman Taseer, Sabeen Mahmud or Shahbaz Bhatti. Nature opposed Bhutto’s and Zia’s Pakistan and God will make Pakistan a peaceful place but it needs our role in it, we are afraid to speak and scared from extremists. We should help educating new generation and negotiate with Mullahs that this attitude will cause destruction but nothing else. Is there anyone among us who can discuss unjust laws by State? HRCP or Supreme Court of Pakistan? I end my opinion with a question.
The writer is a Lahore based Journalist, Human Rights Activist and Bureau Chief Lahore at Weekly Education Informer