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Islam and Sectarianism ( 18 Dec 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The Ahmadi question

 By Hussain Nadim

December 19, 2015

It is as if the sectarian mobs have started taking turns targeting a different minority every month, putting Pakistan to shame internationally. This time, the Ahmadis are in the spotlight — again. First, we saw the disturbances in Jhelum and now there are hate posters at Hafeez Centre, Lahore. Ahmadis have seen the dark side of what being a minority in Pakistan means. Yet, it is this Ahmadi problem that truly demonstrates what has gone wrong in Pakistan since independence and is hiding the path to Pakistan’s stability.

Pakistan’s Ahmadis battle mob and state for identity

Read Also: Pakistan and Its Hate Crimes

The complicated part about the Ahmadi issue is that in reality, it is less of a theological issue, and more of a social and political problem garbed under a religious spin that has been ongoing for almost a century. Anti-Ahmadi sentiment was prevalent before Partition, but given that Muslims were in the minority as a whole, any violence against Ahmadis remained rather restricted. The sentiment against the community may have partly been driven by its open support for the All-India Muslim League and the Pakistan movement that led religious groups to term Ahmadis as ‘British agents’, supporting Partition for their vested interests. The same groups called Jinnah Kafir-e-Azam and agitated against the creation of Pakistan.

After factory, mob torches Ahmadi place of worship in Jhelum over blasphemy allegations

The Ahmadi community, being small, tight-knit, highly educated and prosperous, naturally commanded influence in pre-Partition India, and also after the independence of Pakistan, with many of its members enjoying prominence in the bureaucracy, military and politics. The presence of Zafarullah Khan, MM Ahmad and numerous others who had an over-arching influence made right wing groups wary that in the new Pakistan, Ahmadis may become the dominant, politically active religious group — a rather exaggerated fear that had no legs to stand on. Thus, feelings against Ahmadis, right from the time of independence, have been given a religious and theological spin. The real intention has been to exclude Ahmadis from top bureaucratic, military and political offices so as to reduce their socio-political decision-making and influence in the country as this was perceived as a major threat by religio-political groups, which had initially opposed the creation of Pakistan, and then later opposed those who created the country and who had a different vision for it from theirs.

I am ashamed by this Ahmadi clause at a university in Lahore

In other words, Ahmadis are actually paying for their efforts in the Pakistan movement and for their extraordinary services to the country, symbolised by the likes of Dr Abdus Salam, MM Ahmad and Atif Mian, who changed the perception of Pakistan on the international front. However, back home, they are treated like outcasts because the right wing refuses to give space to anyone and has hijacked religion. They see the success of Ahmadis as a direct threat to their monopoly on the political narrative.

Blaze at Ahmadis’ place of worship in London

Read Also: Pakistan and Its Hate Crimes

Hence, what is happening at Hafeez Centre is nothing new. It demonstrates the continuation of sporadic agitation against the Ahmadis — a community that is still somehow managing to remain afloat, perhaps because most of its members have quietly left the country that they helped establish. Those that are still in Pakistan live in constant fear. Given that one can get arrested for reciting holy scriptures if one is an Ahmadi, but can roam freely for killing minorities if belonging to a banned organisation, goes to show the nation’s moral compass. Under the National Action Plan, the state is supposed to define what sort of ideology it wants to promote in the country. As long as murderers and terrorists can roam freely and innocent minorities are stigmatised, we are unconsciously promoting chances of the likes of the Islamic State to emerge right here in Pakistan and it won’t be long before extremist groups in the country will pledge their allegiance to groups that want to topple the state and establish a caliphate in Pakistan.

It is the people of Pakistan who need to decide whether their country is under threat from a community that has served Pakistan in the areas of politics, development and science or from groups that conduct hate rallies against everyone they see as threats to their monopoly on religion. The sooner we realise who the country and our religion is really under threat from, the better we’ll be able to save society from total collapse.

Read Also: Pakistan and Its Hate Crimes



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