Hate-crimes against the Ahmedis

Pamphlets giving a call to kill members of the Ahmediyya community in the name of Islam are openly being distributed in Punjab. Not only do these pamphlets glorify the killing of innocent people but the addresses of many prominent Ahmedi businessmen, senior teachers and doctors who reside in Faisalabad have been published. Despite the fact that there are laws in our statute books against incitement to violence and murder, no action has so far been taken against the publishers of these pamphlets, i.e. the department of publications and broadcasting, International Organisation of Protection of Prophethood Mediation of Muhammad (PBUH), All Pakistan Students Khatam-e-Nabuwat Federation. The PML-N’s Senator Pervaiz Rashid was not aware of these pamphlets but assured that the Punjab government will investigate and take action against the hatemongers. It is imperative that the authorities take strict measures against the bigots who are spreading hate literature and make sure that such acts do not go unchecked like they have in the past. It seems that laws against incitement are only there on paper. This has to change.

The Ahmediyya community in Pakistan has faced persecution at the hands of the state and bigots alike for decades. From being declared non-Muslims in 1974 during Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s rule to General Ziaul Haq’s draconian Ordinance XX issued in 1984, the Ahmedis have been threatened, harassed and killed while those who are responsible for these gruesome acts of incitement and violence go unpunished. Last year on May 28, two Ahmedi worship places were attacked and more than 80 people lost their lives. Even though a year has passed, we still do not know what happened to the investigations. It speaks volumes about the justice system of our country when we have yet to see justice being served for late Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer’s brutal murder. His case is subject to postponement after postponement because the government is unable to find a judge to hear the case.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah is alleged to have ties with the leaders of a banned organisation. This does not augur well for the province if its own law minister is giving patronage to militant outfits. The PML-N government in Punjab must stop bigotry from spreading its tentacles all over the province. The Ahmedis are as much Pakistanis as anyone else and they must not be treated as pariahs. The state must ensure their safety and punish all those who are fuelling hatred in our midst.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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