Human rights lawyer and activist Asma Jahangir on Tuesday demanded former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to take notice of retired Capt Muhammad Safdar’s tirade against the persecuted Ahmadi community.
On Tuesday, Safdar, who is the former prime minister’s son-in-law and a member of the ruling PML-N, accused the faith group of acting against the country’s interests and called for action against its members.
“These people [Ahmadis] are a threat to this country, its Constitution and ideology,” Safdar had said.
Appearing on DawnNews talk show News Wise, Jahangir said that Safdar’s incendiary speech made in the National Assembly was unacceptable and “highly discriminatory”.
“Such words are spoken by those who we consider to be extremists; such remarks being made by a member of the NA is shocking,” said the activist. “I believe Capt Safdar tried to incite [hatred]. While speaking in the NA, one must maintain respect.”
Jahangir demanded that Nawaz take notice of Safdar’s speech and urged all political parties to condemn it, voicing her concern that such incidents are not even condemned by the civil society anymore.
“Around the world, nobody can speak about their minority populations in such a manner,” Jahangir said. “If we do not raise our voice against this incident today, people like this (who make such remarks against minorities), will form a majority.”
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, in a tweet on Wednesday, condemned the speech without mentioning Captain Safdar’s name.
“The bigotry, hatred and extremism on display in the National Assembly yesterday goes to show that the Nawaz league has been mainstreaming terror well before Milli Muslim League . No place for this mindset in our society,” Bilawal said in his tweet.
During his speech, Safdar also criticised the renaming of Quaid-i-Azam University’s (QAU) physics centre after Professor Dr Abdus Salam, the country’s first Nobel laureate — the grounds for the lawmaker’s objections being the scientist’s Ahmadi faith.
Safdar referred to Dr Salam as “a controversial figure that has been termed an infidel in light of the Constitution”.
Speaking to Dawn.com, Dr Javed Ashraf, vice-chancellor of the university, said that the renaming of the centre had been approved by Nawaz in December 2016.
“I feel every Pakistani should honour top intellectuals — regardless of their caste, colour and creed,” Dr Ashraf said. “Every Pakistani should be equally honoured for their achievements.”
During his speech, Safdar had also called for ‘action’ against the Ahmadi community and said said he wanted to bring a resolution in the NA calling for a “ban on recruitment of Qadianis [Ahmadis] in the armed forces”.
“Because their’s is a false religion, in which there is no concept of jihad for Allah,” said Safdar, who continued his harangue against the community uninterrupted by other members of the House.
Safdar referred to the appointment of and promotion of military officers who he said were members of the Ahmadi community and “could not be trusted” with the responsibility of guarding the country’s frontiers. He further said that government servants should be made to sign a declaration that they swear by the idea of Khatm-i-Naboowat.
“We have faith in Khatm-i-Naboowat. This is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a country of 220 million people…I call Zulfikar Ali Bhutto a shaheed because he protected the idea of finality of prophethood and was hanged for doing so.”
Pakistan was created with an ideology to protect the finality of Prophethood [Khatm-i-Naboowat] so Islam is practised here, the PML-N leader said.
Capt Safdar’s remarks in the NA caused an uproar on social media, with many questioning whether action could be taken against the lawmaker.
Safdar and his wife Maryam are currently facing a trial in the National Accountably Bureau’s court with regards to the Avenfield reference.