May 28, 2010: Black Friday

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the deadly attacks on two places of worship of the Ahmediyya community during Friday prayers. The Punjab wing of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attacks. More than 80 people died and over a hundred were injured on that fateful Friday. It is with great disbelief that today most Pakistanis are celebrating ‘Yaum-e-Takbeer’ to commemorate the 13th anniversary of Pakistan going nuclear while completely forgetting what happened just a year ago on that same day. It is not surprising that just like the rest of our nation, thePakistani authorities too have a short memory span. Apart from the initial investigations and a few arrests made in this regard last year, no details of what happened to the arrested or any new developments have been made public. This is the height of irresponsibility. It also shows the apathy our state as a whole shows towards the minorities.

Pakistan declared the Ahmedis non-Muslims back in 1974 when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was in power. General Ziaul Haq made it even worse for the Ahmediyya community by promulgating the atrocious Ordinance XX whereby they are not even allowed to worship freely in Pakistan. The persecution of Ahmedis that followed is out there for all to see. They are treated even worse than second-class citizens in this ‘land of the pure’. Hate literature against the Ahmedis is openly distributed all over the country. Before the May 28 attacks, militant organisations like the Jaish-e-Mohammed were openly writing hateful pieces in their publications. The Ahmedis are the victims of continuous harassment, attacks and target killings. Hardly any of our leaders have the guts to come out in full support of this particular minority community. Late Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was one of the few brave leaders who offered his support to the Ahmediyya community. His assassination in the wake of the blasphemy issue was a blow to the country’s secular and progressive forces. Mr Taseer’s murderer has not been brought to justice till now as the case is moving at a snail’s pace.

A society that cannot offer justice to its citizens is a society teetering on the edge of moral bankruptcy and disaster. If we want to leave behind a country that our future generations can be proud of, let us remedy this situation by making Pakistan into a country based on equality and where its citizens are protected regardless of their race, religion, caste or creed.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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