IHRC warns of the Plight of Ahmadiyyas in Pakistan

Pakistani flags protesters

IFFRAS reported that the Ahmadiyyas, a religious minority in Sunni-majority Pakistan, remain a minority community and whose way of life is being increasingly threatened. While there has been a history to this persecution of a religious minority, three incidents of desecration of Ahmadi mosques have occurred in Pakistan, in January 2023 alone. On 18 January 2023, three anti-social elements entered the Ahmadi Mosque on Martin Road, Karachi and desecrated its minarets.

The London-based International Human Rights Committee (IHRC) reported(25 January 2023) that the upper portion of the minaret in Lahore was smashed to bits. Chronicling the recent incidents, IHRC points out, “Last month police destroyed minarets at the Ahmadiyya Mosque in Baghbanpura, Gujranwala and few days ago, a 108-year-old Ahmadiyya Mosque in Moti Bazaar, Wazirabad was desecrated by the police.”

In Baghbanpura, in the city of Gujranwala, (Punjab), in mid-2022 Ahmadi believers were told by the police, that Sunni Muslims complained that minarets decorating the door of the local Ahmadi Mosque were “Islamic symbols” and should be removed. The Ahmadis agreed to cover the minarets with an iron sheet, making them invisible.

However, on 8 December 2022, in the early hours of the morning, the police blocked the street, raided the mosque, and destroyed the minarets. Unfortunately, there is no peace in Pakistan for the Ahmadis, (numbering around 2.5 million) members of a religious community regarded as heretic by Sunni Muslims, in life and in death.

IHRC reported (23 January 2023) that Ahmadi graves had been desecrated and vandalised in a “malicious and senseless” attack by vigilantes’ elements in Pakistan. Graveyard vandalism has been a favoured tactic of the Anti-Ahmadi element in Pakistan for years. On 22.01.2023 at midnight some unknown miscreants desecrated Ahmadiyya graves in Faisalabad. They trespassed the Ahmadiyya graveyard by cutting the barbed wires and tried to torch up the coffins & some other items in the store. A similar attack was carried out on 20.11.2022 in the same graveyard where unknown miscreants removed gravestones from three Ahmadiyya graves. The incident was reported to police who didn’t register an FIR.

We now return to chronicle the recent incidents of desecration of Ahmadi Mosques in Pakistan. On 2 February 2023, vandals attacked the Ahmadiyya Hall, built in 1950 in Saddar Karachi (the commercial district of the Pakistani city), and razed its minarets. Around 5-10 persons climbed up the wall and repeatedly hit the structure with a hammer.

On 3 February, two more serious incidents took place in the province of Sindh. Two Ahmadi mosques were attacked,the first in Noor Nagar, a village in the Umerkot District, where unknown assailants climbed the boundary walls of the local Ahmadi Mosque and set it on fire with gasoline.

The second incident took place in Goth Chaudary Javed Ahmed at Goth Ghazi Khan Mirani, in Mirpur Khas District, (Sindh) where the minarets of an Ahmadi Mosque were ravaged by a group of unidentified persons, before the whole building was set on fire.Around 8:30pm (4 February 2023), a group of fanatics opened fire near the Prayer Centre of the Satellite Town neighbourhood of Mirpur Khas City.

Ahmadis believers were inside the Centre. The IHRC reports that the local police in District Toba Tek Singh, in Faisalabad Division of Punjab asked the Ahmadis to “to demolish Minarets from their own Ahmadiyya Mosque by themselves.”

More shocking is the incident of a school in Pakistan expelling children, because they belong to the Ahmadi sect. Reports (Bitter Winter, 10.11.2022) indicate that four children have been expelled from the Mithial Campus of “The Educators School Network” in Attock, Punjab. The only reason given for the expulsion is that they belong to the “Qadianat Religion,” a derogatory term to designate the Ahmadis.

What happened in Attock, is an international scandal. The Beaconhouse and The Educators School Network claim to be the largest private school in the world, through 900 campuses in more than 200 cities, and more than 200,000 students, but are willing to buckle under the pressure of the Pakistani state when it comes to treating the Ahmadis equally!

The Ahmadis venerate their founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who died in Lahore in 1908, as “both a follower of the Holy Prophet (Muhammad) and a prophet himself.” For conservative Muslims, this is enough to violate the principle of the “finality of prophethood,” according to which there can be no genuine prophet in human history after Muhammad.

The origins of the religious sect can be traced to Qadian, near Amritsar in present day Punjab, India. Mirza Ahmad founded the movement in 1889 and preached that he was the promised messiah who had the task of bringing God’s teaching into harmony with the present-day world. The persecution of the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan is the sad record of being the only state-sponsored politics of bigotry in an Islamic nation against a minority Muslim community.

For the Pakistani government, the Ahmadis are in fact, non-Muslim heretics. The Ahmadi formula for Ghulam Ahmad, “at the same time a prophet and a follower of the Holy Prophet [Muhammad],” is not enough to establish their orthodoxy in the eyes of Muslim clerics. They are treated as second class citizens and prevented from voting and holding office.

In 1974, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto enacted an constitutional amendment declaring the Ahmadiyyas to be non-Muslims. Flowing from this, they were barred from going to mosques. The military dictator Zia-ul-Haq’s 1984 Ordinance introduced explicit discriminatory references (Indian Express, 4 February 2023) to Ahmadiyya in Sections 298-B and 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

Pertinently, these laws are contrary to Pakistani law, as the Supreme Court of Pakistan stated in its verdict, (PLD 2014 SC 699)that the freedom of religion (Article 20 of the 1973 Pakistani Constitution) must be construed liberally to include freedom of conscience, thought, expression, belief, and faith.

The plight of the Ahmadiyyas continues to find mention in important international forums. Recently, Pakistan received 340 recommendations at its Fourth Periodical Review meeting held in Geneva ahead of the 53rd meeting of the UNHRC to be held later this month. One of the recommendations made by Canada, suggests that Pakistan should establish a robust policy and implementation mechanism to secure the registration of female voters and shield them from violence.

The United States called for the “repeal or revision of blasphemy laws and the termination of discriminatory laws” targeted towards members of the Ahmadi and other minority religious groups. Given these facts, it is clear the Ahmadis in Pakistan remain persecuted, both by the Pakistani state and Islamic ulema.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024