This piece is not to support, defend or advocate any sect’s religious beliefs rather the intention is to save humanity in this country which has been fading out swiftly. Since 2007 an alarming rise in suicide bombing in Pakistan has jolted the whole nation and logically though, the focus of attention is on the issues threatening the majority. But minorities of this country who are if not bombed, then slaughtered, burnt, and threatened anyways irrespective of country’s situation. Leaving aside the military dictators gimmicks, the civil governments have always used the religion card to either get the majority support or appease the rigid religious political parties. What intensifies my agony is the intolerance widespread in the society which is indiscriminately targeting the majority in form of terrorism.
The killing of two Ahmedi doctors in one week has sent the shock wave among human rights defenders and frightened the Ahmedis who are denied all rights being a minority sect. An eminent Ahmedi physician and cardiologist was shot dead in Mirpurkhas on September 8 and the very next day, another prominent Ahmedi was killed in Nawabshah. The Ahmediyya community suspected a link between both killings, but could not ascertain the motive. Since 1974, when the first elected prime minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, has brought an amendment in the 1973 Constitution in which he declared Ahmediyya sect, non Muslim. The amendment, as an historic event, is known as “Second Amendment” which has not only changed their status for good, but also paved the way for future unending sufferings.
Bhutto’s official biographer, Salmaan Taseer wrote in “Bhutto: A Political Biography” that “In deference to conservative Muslim opinion, he (Bhutto) acquiesced in 1974 in banning the Ahmediyya, a quasi-Islamic sect. Bhutto was no bigot, and the incident left an unpleasant taste in his mouth”. Except a change in the status, no further curbs were imposed on them by Bhutto. But later, General Zia Ul-Haq who overthrew Bhutto played the same politics using religion as a shield and legitimized his rule. In 1984, he decreed that Ahmedis are non Muslims and barred them from reciting the Kalima, and calling for prayers.
Today, their separate mosques and their humiliation are the manifestation of his dream. Recently, in a programme “Alam Online” on Geo TV the host Dr. Amir Liaqat called openly for the killing of Ahmedis. He repeatedly called Ahmedis “Wajub ul Qatal”. This irresponsible attitude on TV should not be tolerated and Pakistanis which are always looking for excuses to go on streets have accepted it and except the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) no sane voice has echoed this concern. Dr. Amir Liaqat, once involved in the controversy of his degree” is very articulate, extempore and knows how to fan the emotions of innocent Pakistanis. He should rightfully be banned on TV for using hate speech, but we have received this orientation to accept the injustice to boost the morale of majority.
In the year of 2004, four Ahmedis have been killed: Basharat Ahmed Mughal in Karachi on February 24, Dr. Gulam Sarwar in Peshawar on March 19 and those mentioned above. Since 1984, 91 Ahmedis have been killed including 15 doctors. It is a visible threat to the coexistence of all sects where protection of lives of minorities is at stake. No halt to the practice of hate preaching has been demanded except HRCP which has set a dangerous precedent. The role of media in forming public opinion is vital and such encouragement for violence against minority in a longer run will not be benefited to majority either. I have been writing for media freedom, but with a mushroomed growth of electronic media, it has also brought responsibility which media has yet to accept with freedom. The wave of extremism and terrorism has hit the country badly and this clear division among the society will not let the good intention to be harbored. On the pretext of blasphemy, the brutal killing of Pakistan’s citizens does not help the country to send a positive signal to the international community as a moderate society and labels it as one of the worst human rights violators. The cultural of tolerance is a phoenix now and the urge to blow the dissenting voices is getting strength with every passing day. Pakistan has a flaw of being a society where there are different forces that cannot cohabit and lack the will. Though, it appears a cliché now but the foundation of Pakistan was not laid on the principle of extremism, rather Pakistan should have been tolerant to those who differ in their thought, beliefs and religion. In Hindustan, both Hindus and Muslims coexisted for centuries, where Muslims were the biggest minority and later they fought for their rights. How come Pakistanis can be forgetful and ungrateful of their own past which dates back to 1947 and refuse giving due respect and right to their minorities?