As a mainstream Pakistani Muslim I was shocked to read the rebuttal put forward by the Department of Consular Affairs, Embassy of Pakistan. They conveniently ignored the fact that Pakistan is the only state which has officially declared the Ahmadiya community as non-Muslims. Their freedom of religion has been curtailed through many ordinances, acts and constitutional amendments by myopic dictators like General Zia ul Haq and later right-wing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
On April 16, 1984, General Zia-ul-Haq, the former dictator (also the worst thing to have ever happened to Pakistan), issued the anti-Ahmadiya Ordinance, which effectively prohibited Ahmadis from preaching or professing their beliefs. The ordinance, which was supposed to prevent “anti-Islamic activities,” forbids Ahmadis from calling themselves Muslim or to “pose as Muslims”. This means that they are not allowed to profess the Islamic creed publicly or call their places of worship mosques.
Pray tell, where is the ‘freedom of religion’?
As a result of these black laws, which are completely against the wishes of the secular founder of the country Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Ahmadiya community, is threatened and hate-related literature is spread by fundamentalist religious groups to which Pakistan is no stranger.
Just last week a rights organisation said it feared large-scale targeted killings of Ahmadis in Faisalabad after pamphlets labelling members of the Ahmadiyya community “Wajibul Qatl” (‘liable to be murdered’), and inciting people to publicly attack followers of the faith, were openly and widely circulated in the city.
Living in denial will only worsen the already dreadful situation in the country.
Ahsan Arif Awan