PAKISTAN: Government makes no effort to halt the persecution and killings of Ahmadis

PAKISTAN: Government makes no effort to halt the persecution and killings of Ahmadis

March 12, 2012 : The situation in Pakistan grows worse for the religious minority groups on a daily basis. The security and law and order situation has become so chaotic that the authorities seem to have no control over providing protection to these minorities. The fundamentalist Muslim leaders (Mullahs) have a free rein and relentlessly exploit the blasphemy laws for their personal interests and these laws were legislated to debilitate and undermine universal human rights. Members of all faiths have been victims of these merciless violations of human rights including Christians, Hindus and even Shiites. However, the main focus of this brutality is the Ahmadi and the killing of Ahmadis is not considered a crime by the state and the law of the land. 

The persecution of the Ahmadis since they were declared non-Muslim by the Government of Pakistan in 1974 is overt and blatant. For Ahmadis, to profess Islam as their religion and practice it in any form is a crime in Pakistan punishable by imprisonment, fines, penalties and even death. Killing them is considered a great honour for Muslim fundamentalists which allows them direct entry into paradise.

Hundreds of Ahmadis have been murdered. In two separate instances alone, almost a hundred were killed when the two Ahmadi mosques were blown up by accomplices of the Mullahs in May 2010. 

Since January 2011, another ten have been murdered. During the last two weeks more Ahmadis were shot and killed in Nawab Shah, Sindh province. The latest one to be killed was Dr Maqsood Ahmad, a homeopathic practitioner. He was a man that was always helpful, generous and kind to everyone regardless of their religion. Just a week earlier, another prominent Ahmadi, Mr. Ikram, was shot and killed. His grandson, Munib, was also shot and remains in hospital under treatment. He is a brilliant young man, just eighteen years of age and a student. There were quite a few others who were shot but escaped death. Some of them are suffering from severe trauma and other forms of stress related disability. The Government authorities, police and judiciary take absolutely no notice of such cruelty practiced upon the Ahmadis but on the other hand overtly support anti-Ahmadiyya activities and deny Ahmadis the right to even protect themselves.

There are thousands who have been prosecuted and linger in dark cells not knowing their fate and who fear imminent death. 

Now however, there is a frightening surge in such incidents against Ahmadis. The Government of Pakistan needs to be cautioned about the consequences of such anarchy. Upholding justice and the fundamental freedoms of all is an essential obligation of democracy which includes human rights. Without fulfilling such obligations claiming to be a democratic state is no better than a farce.

For some years now, Ahmadi elites in Pakistan have been targeted. Several businessmen, engineers, doctors, academics and others have been either killed or kidnapped. Some have been ransomed at a very high cost and there are others, who have not been traced and the authorities have shown no interest in their recovery.

Ahmadi teachers have been discriminated against and even terminated because of their faith. Some of them were known to be of excellent calibre but they have been deprived the opportunity to serve the youth of the nation. 

In the current resurgence of religious persecution and hate mongering, the role of the media is equally frustrating. Everywhere in Pakistan, walls are littered with writings and posters exhorting people to kill Ahmadis. Mullahs are free to organise and lead anti-Ahmadiyya processions and conferences which are painfully indecent and abusive. The media has a critical responsibility to be absolutely just, neutral, truthful and contribute to the development of an enlightened and harmonious society imbued with the spirit of unity, cooperation, tolerance and understanding. 

For Pakistan, human rights, justice, respect, safety and security of its citizens is in a perilous situation and presents a serious challenge for the government of President Zardari. In order to sustain and solidify democracy it must build up a joint and solid foundation of the dignity and deployment of human rights.

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