The fate of Pakistani Ahmadis: Implications of Anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance 1984
We stand by our declarations that members of every community will be treated as citizens of Pakistan with equal rights and privileges and obligations…” (Mr Jinnah, March 1948).
Religion, being one’s matter, leaves no room for the state to interfere. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, “Member states have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms…”
Article 2 of the said Declaration provides the freedom “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion…” to the citizens of the member states.
Regrettably, since the very creation of Pakistan in August 1947, the so-called defeated religious assemblages like Ihraris, Jamat-i-Islami and Jamayat-i-Ulma-i-Islam played the religion card as a face-saving act to regain their influence in the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan.” All these religious entities had failed badly in their anti-Pakistan political agenda; leaving them with only the religion card. For that reason, they started invoking the differences within various Islamic factions and sects, exploiting the nation of Pakistan. The Shia-Sunni issues and particularly Anti-Ahmadiyya campaigns enormously distressed the social fabric of the country.
In a famous policy speech, Mr Jinnah on August 11, 1947, emphasised that “The first and the foremost thing that I would like to emphasize in this: remember that you are now a sovereign legislative body and you have got all the powers. It, therefore, places on you the gravest responsibility as to how you should take your decisions…” but unfortunately Pakistani Parliament in 1974 misused her powers conferred by the independent state of Pakistan.
On September 7, 1947, the Bhutto regime declared Ahmadis “non-Muslim” even though Ahmadiyya delegation, under Mirza Nasir Ahmad (the head of Ahmadis), proved them “Muslims” in Parliament of Pakistan. In effect, this matter was dealt with politically, not religiously. Religious forces used the parliamentary platform to regulate the beliefs and the faith of Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan, while no court of law or parliament holds the right to determine the religion, faith, beliefs of any individual or community.
Dr Mubashir Hasan, the finance minister in the Bhutto Cabinet, has confessed that it was all due to the Saudi pressure, which was an open violation of the articles 6 and 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.
The self-made Ameer-ul-Momineen Gen Zia-ul-Haq practised his extremist Islamisation policy during his 11 years rule, which augmented the miseries of the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan. The implementation of his Anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance of April 1984 (Ordinance No. XX of 1984) is also known as “the Anti-Islamic Activities of the Quadidiani Group, Lahori Group and Ahmadis (Prohibition and Punishment) Ordinance, 1984.”
This step exposed his peculiar resentment and hatred to counter the Ahmadis. Zia, as the power seeker, wanted the support of religious factions to prolong his rule and boost his strength. He used religion as a tool to attain his personal and political objectives. This above title of the ordinance is also reflecting its hatred for Ahmadis and their religious practices in Pakistan.
In 1984, the UN Human Rights Commission also took notice of this barbaric Ordinance, violating the basic human rights of Ahmadis. Later in 1985, the UN Human Rights Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities investigated and found it to be the violation of the International Human Rights Charter of UN 1948.
Under this Ordinance, two new sections 298-B and 298-C were added in Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) particularly against the Ahmadis in Pakistan. They dealt with the “misuse of epithets, descriptions and titles, etc. reserved for certain holy personages or places” and “person of Quadiani group, etc. calling himself a Muslim or preaching or propagating his faith respectively”. This is an obstruction of the basic rights conferred by a state to her citizens. In the modern state system, no state has official religion but only its citizens. The state’s intervention in religious matters is considered the exploitation of the religious communities and individual’s rights.
Since 1947, no Ahmadi has ever found involved in anti-state and terrorist activities. No Ahmadi has never passed any derogatory remarks or actions against any Islamic teaching, faith or belief. They ever remain faithful to the State and the Constitution of Pakistan. Sir Muhammad Zafrullah Khan, Dr Abdul Salam and M M Ahmad are the pride of Pakistan. Ahmadis have always participated positively to ease the agonies of the beloved state of Pakistan. On the other hand, anti-Ahmadiyya laws are steadily increasing the anguishes of the Ahmadis, which are also the violation of Article 20 of the Constitution of 1973.
In the modern state system, no state has an official religion
The state supported laws and hatred against Ahmadis, impairing their lives and the status of independent citizens of an Islamic Republic. Under section 298-B, Ahmadis cannot use Islamic epithets. For example, they cannot use Islamic titles, say worship place “Masjid” and recite “Azan,” for which, Ahmadis can be convicted with imprisonment extended to three years with fine. Furthermore, under section 298-C, no Ahmadi can call him/herself ‘Muslim’ nor can he preach or propagate the Ahmadiyya faith and beliefs in the geographical boundaries of Pakistan, for which Ahmadis can be penalised with the imprisonment extended to three years with a fine.
Moreover, many Ahmadis also have been convicted under sections 295, 295-A, 295-B and 295-C of PPC. The misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan is a common practice, creating a sense of uncertainty and disruption in minorities because of the death penalty and life imprisonment with fine. Fanatics and extremist Mullahs are frequently using blasphemy laws to impend the minorities and tiny communities in the country. Moreover, article 260 of the Constitution of 1973 provides the definition of a Muslim in Pakistan, which Islam had defined 1400 years ago. Such a definition in the Constitution of 1973 is only imparting and augmenting the differences among the citizens of Pakistan. This pained behaviour as a nation among the fanatic classes is dividing Pakistan among Muslims and non-Muslims which is damaging the nationalism.
In response, after the promulgation of Ordinance XX of 1984 to till July 2019, 765 Ahmadis have been booked for displaying Kalima, 38 for calling Azan, 447 for posing themselves as Muslims, 161 for using Islamic epithets, 93 for offering prayers, 820 for preaching, 27 for celebrating Ahmadiyya Centenary (1989), 50 for celebrating 100 years anniversary of eclipses of sun and moon occurred in 1894 as a sign of Promised Mahdi, 315 for Blasphemy Law and 1191 booked for other cases.
Furthermore, from 1984 to December 2018, 264 Ahmadis have been killed, 388assaulted for their faith, 28 Ahmadiyya worship places (Mosques) demolished, 39 sealed by authorities, 23 set on fire or damaged, 17 forcibly occupied and 58 Ahmadiyya worship places’ construction was barred by the authorities, 39 Ahmadis bodies exhumed after burial, 70 Ahmadis’ burial was denied in common cemetery, 43 cases of incidents of Kalima removal from Ahmadis’ house and shops and 103 cases of Kalima removal from Ahmadi worship places have been reported.
The discriminatory decision of March 9, 2018, by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court also appears as the next version of the Ordinance XX of 1984, in which he focused to identify the Ahmadis socially particularly in high-rank govt jobs with a mandatory affidavit in this regard. He banned Ahmadis to use word “Ahmadi” and also the Islamic names. His judgement bound the Ahmadis to add the word “Mirzai” or “Ghulaman-i-Mirza” in their names to differentiate with other Pakistani Muslims. In short, it was a step forward to corner the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan. These standards of justice raising a sense of complexity in the Ahmadis. They have ever been sincere and loyal to the State of Pakistan but State has a disgusting attitude towards Ahmadis treating them as untouchables.
Ahmadis in Pakistan face discrimination and suffering from certain grave situations, Anti-Ahmadiyya laws and state-supported hatred swell their agonies. The role of extremist and fanatic Mullahs and religious assemblages further increase the hatred against Ahmadis. Ahmadis are facing discrimination in daily livelihood, jobs and particularly in the academics. In public places particularly in markets, discriminatory behaviour is a common practice. Ahmadis are denied from shops either verbally or by exhibiting stickers with discriminatory public notices; rebuking Ahmadis particularly to push them away from their shops. 1974 to 2019 democratic and authoritarian regimes are failed to improve the Ahmadiyya situations and provide them with equal stands in the social fabric of Pakistan. In spite of all this, Ahmadis are peacefully standing with the State willing to participate for the prosperity of Pakistan.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org