- No society can claim to be idealistically egalitarian as certain elements of every society always claim superiority over the others, either on ethnic, numerical or religious basis and try to usurp some rights of the weaker segments, but the governing forces of the societies usually play positive regulatory role in order to quell the unruly advancements of the powerful groups in order to safeguard the rights of the minorities or those weaker segments. In modern world the States have promulgated and implemented laws to guarantee basic human rights for all of its citizens irrespective of their caste, creed or religion and many States have guaranteed these basic human rights by incorporating them in their Constitution or are otherwise accepted by the humanity, while assuring its citizens and international community that the guaranteed right would not be violated at any cost and in case of violation the aggrieved person would be allowed some kind of remedy by approaching the Constitutional Courts for enforcement of those rights.
- It is also a fact that despite the aforesaid assurances some States are facing difficult times in order to implement the provisions related to basic human rights due to weakness of their internal systems but there would be only a very few States who despite the availability of required resources don’t try to fulfill their responsibilities.
- Pakistan may be the only signatory of Universal Declaration of Human Rights/International Convention of Civil and Political Rights who, despite the availability of means to protect and safeguard the human rights of its citizens has not only failed to perform its duties rather it has become a tool of usurpation of rights of Ahmadiyya Community . Most of the people who are living in developed world may not be able to comprehend the situation of Ahmadis living in Pakistan as it is not easily understandable for a person who is living in real democratic society where State has nothing to do with the religious beliefs of their subjects, that how on earth a State apparatus may be used to take away the rights of religious minorities on the insistence of majority?
- It may be astonishing for most of the people not living in Pakistan that the State of Pakistan has not only declared that Islam is the State religion of the country (Article 2 of the Constitution of Pakistan) rather its Constitution has provided the definition of a Muslim (Article 260(3) of the Constitution of Pakistan). Now the question arises that what is the reason for giving the definition of a Muslim in the basic document of the country? The answer is quite simple. The State was not ready to accept the right of Ahmadis to define their own identity and to claim that they are Muslims. By this Constitutional provision which was made part of the Constitution through second constitutional amendment in 1974 and later amended through Revival of Constitution Order (President Order 14) of 1985 the legislature of Pakistan in fact approved and encouraged the sentiments of religious hatred prevalent in the society against Ahmadis.
History of persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan:
- The persecution of the Ahmadiyya Community in subcontinent has a long history. Before the independence of India in 1930s a group of religiously motivated people namely Majlis-e-Ahrar tried to create law and order situation and incited hatred against the Ahmadis through public speeches.
- After the independence the majority Muslims of Pakistan didn’t stop persecution of Ahmadis rather this anti Ahmadiyya movement got unprecedented momentum in 1953. At that point of time the Muslim religious leaders spearheaded a countrywide anti Ahmadiyya movement and in rioting against Ahmadis many innocent Ahmadis lost their lives and then came 1974 when, as already stated the Ahmadis were declared “not Muslims” for the purpose of law and constitution. From that period of time the era of State sponsored persecution of Ahmadis was officially started.
- In 1984, through Ordinance XX of 1984 section 298-B & 298-C were added in the Pakistan Penal Code and through these provisions not only the act of claiming or posing themselves as Muslims by Ahmadis was declared offence rather the religious practices of Ahmadis were also declared proscribed.
- In 1984 till today large number of criminal cases have been registered against the Ahmadis and many of the Ahmadis have to undergo imprisonment and certain Ahmadis are still behind the bars.
- It is true that the Constitution of Pakistan guarantees the right of their citizens to practice and propagate their religion (Article 20 of its Constitution) but this guarantee has been violated and is still being violated by every organ of the State with impunity and Ahmadis are not allowed to practice and propagate their religion.
- Courts are usually considered independent arbiters in every democratic society and the judges are required to act independently while raising themselves above the personal liking, disliking and prejudices. But in case of Ahmadis the courts are not performing their duties. The anti Ahmadiyya laws were assailed before the Supreme Court of Pakistan on the ground that these laws has put restrictions on Ahmadis from practicing and propagating their religion which are against the fundamental rights of Ahmadis but the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared that the Anti Ahmadiyya laws are not against their fundamental rights (Zaheeruddin vs The State, 1993 SCMR 1718). The anti Ahmadiyya laws and decision of Zaheeruddin case is the manifestation of the extreme hatred prevalent in Pakistan against Ahmadis.
- For the last many years the State has now started registering the cases against Ahmadis under section 295-B (defiling of Holy Quran), 295-C (defiling of name of Prophet Muhammad PBUH) and Anti Terrorism laws and the reason for registering these cases is the religious intolerance against Ahmadis.
Cases registered against Ahmadis in recent past
- In the year 2020 a case under section 295-C has been registered against an Ahmadi woman who is now behind the bars and her bail plea has been dismissed by the court.
- For the last more than two years Cybercrime Wing, Lahore of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is being used as a tool in hand of religious opponents of Ahmadis and number of cases have been registered against them.
- Case FIR No. 152/2019 was registered by Cybercrime Wing, Lahore against number of Ahmadis including office bearers of Ahmadiyya Community of Pakistan. In this case an Ahmadi student of Ahmadiyya University is behind the bars for more than one year and his bail plea has been refused.
- Case FIR No. 29/20 was registered by Cybercrime Wing, Lahore. In this case three Ahmadis have been arrested and they have not been granted bail. Number of office bearers of Ahmadiyya Community of Pakistan are also accused In this case and there is an apprehension of their arrest.
- Case FIR No. 77/2020 is registered by Cybercrime Wing, Lahore against Ahmadis Ahmadi who is in jail and he has not been granted bail.
- A case FIR No. 99/2020 has been registered by Cybercrime Wing, Lahore against spokesman of Ahmadiyya Community of Pakistan while another case has also been registered against a well known scholar of Ahmadiyya Community by the same Cybercrime Wing, Lahore.
- A case has been registered against three Ahmadis in Nankana Sahib District of Punjab for constructing worship place for Ahmadis. The Magistrate who was hearing case of these Ahmadis has now passed the order for charging them under section 295-B, PPC (defiling the Holy Quran) and 295-C, PPC (defiling the name of Holy Prophet of Islam). All three Ahmadis are in jail and they have not been granted bail so far.
Overall situation of Ahmadis in Pakistan
- The data of criminal cases against Ahmadis doesn’t draw a true picture of situation of Ahmadis in Pakistan. Marginalization of an Ahmadi starts from the very early years of his life. In schools and colleges the social boycott of Ahmadi students is a routine. There are number of teachers in every educational institutions, especially government education institutions, who openly spew hatred against Ahmadis and religious leaders of Ahmadiyya Community. In many campuses of universities Ahmadis may not enter in hostel mess as it may annoy the Muslim students.
- For the last many years Ahmadi students have to mention their religion in school admission forms and they have to choose between Muslim or non Muslim as those online forms has no other option. Same is the situation of Ahmadis who want to apply for government jobs.
Hate speech against Ahmadis
- Hate speech against Ahmadis is not considered an offence in Pakistan and anybody may spread hatred against Ahmadis while declaring them infidels and traitors. A year ago a video got viral on social media in which a person is declaring Ahmadis as traitors and asking the audience to start a campaign against Ahmadis and audience including personals of law enforcing agencies were clapping.
- Even the mainstream media and the anchors of vast following are indulge in spreading hatred against Ahmadis. Last year a news item from a Pakistani news channel got viral on social media in which it was mentioned that the Prime Minister of Pakistan has approved the proposal of admittance of an Ahmadi in the Minority Commission of Pakistan. Right after the spread of this news many prominent religious scholars started spreading hate against Ahmadis through their video and audio messages on social media and simultaneously, a well planned campaign was stared on social media against the Ahmadiyya Community and thousands of posts were posted on different social media platforms through which not only the hatred was spread against the Ahmadis rather their religious feelings were also injured.
- This fire of hatred against Ahmadis was still burning when a renowned television anchor Mr. Nadeem Malik of Samaa News invited in his programme the Federal Minister of Religious Affairs and asked him the question that why the government decided to admit an Ahmadi in the Minority Commission when Ahmadis don’t accept themselves as minority? The Federal Minister responded that the minutes of Cabinet meeting has been manipulated and no decision had been taken in this regard. He went on to say that he had a firm belief that everyone who has any soft corner or sympathy with Ahmadis is neither loyal to Islam nor to Pakistan.
- Even in Parliament, the lawmakers spew hatred against Ahmadis in order to garner support from the masses who are under the anti Ahmadiyya religious scholars.
Ahmadis don’t consider themselves non-Muslims, so they may be persecuted
- The argument which is being advanced by the opponents and the State is that “Ahmadis don’t accept themselves as non Muslim as per the definition of the Constitution, hence, they cannot be granted the rights of minorities”.
- The argument is not only fallacious rather ridiculous on at least two counts. The first thing that the proponents of this theory has failed to understand that under the Constitution of Pakistan there are no special rights for minorities rather, as per article 25 of the Constitution every citizen is equal before law and is entitled to equal protection of law. The Constitution though define “Muslim” and “Non Muslim”, however, it doesn’t use the term minority. The second thing which is to be taken into consideration that the Ahmadis are not been declared non Muslims or the minority in order to provide some special rights, in addition to general rights but the purpose was to persecute them and this intention of the State is manifested from the promulgation of Ordinance XX of 1984.
- In modern world some communities are treated minority communities not with the purpose of marginalising or persecuting them but to grant them some special rights due to their certain disadvantageous circumstances. While in Pakistan, Ahmadis who have never asked for the minority status has forcibly been declared non Muslims with the only object of their persecution.
- The advocates of Anti Ahmadiyya cause have also not taken into consideration the plain words of Art. 260 (3) of the Constitution which says that meaning of words “Muslim” and “non Muslim” as defined by this provision doesn’t require Ahmadis to accept themselves as non Muslims rather it says that in Constitution and other legal text the words Muslim and non Muslim would be construed as per this provision. Even otherwise, how a person may be compelled to profess something which he doesn’t believe in?
- The proceeding of the National Assembly where after the Second Constitutional Amendment was passed have been published. At page No. 129 & 130 of this report there is a statement of Mr. Yahya Bakhtiar, the Attorney General for Pakistan that Ahmadis would have right to profess and practice whatever they want to profess and practice. This also shows that Ahmadis cannot be compelled to accept themselves non Muslims and they have every right to claim themselves Muslims.
- Further, as has been stated above, Pakistan has signed and ratified Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The said declaration amongst other in Article 18 states as under:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
- The Ahmadis thus has the freedom of thought and conscience notwithstanding Article 260(3) of the Constitution to define and determine their identity. They may be considered non-muslims for the purpose of law and Constitution but still they can not be forced to accept themselves as non-muslims against their conscience and thought. Despite Article 260(3) Ahmadis are entitled to use all peaceful means to protest and endeavor to get Article 260(3) repealed through political process. These rights are part of human existence and can not be taken away. If Article 260(3) can be added through a Constitutional amendment under pressure of one group it can also be repealed through same process.
- An analogy can be drawn with the institution of slavery in United States. Constitution of United States accepted institution of slavery, however, it did not stop abolitionist and anti slavery activists from protesting against the same and they were not forced to accept slavery as proper.
- If it is presumed that legislature can determine identity of a person, it can do so only for legal purpose and cannot force that person to accept that identity against his conscience and thought.
Issuance of notices by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to Ahmadis living outside of Pakistan and who are even not citizens of Pakistan.
- The authorities of Pakistan who, despite unprecedented State sponsored persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan are still dissatisfied, has now started a campaign against non-Pakistani Ahmadis living outside of Pakistan. In the past couple of months the PTA has issued number of notices to Ahmadis living in USA, UK, Australia and other parts of the world requiring them to shut down their Ahmadiyya websites as those websites are against the Pakistani laws. There is also a threat of criminal prosecution in the notices with the warning of fine of Rs. 500 million Pakistani rupees.
Google removed Ahmadiyya Quran App from its Play Store on the pressure of PTA
- PTA has also pressurised Google to bring down Ahmadiyya Quran App developed outside Pakistan failing which, Google was threatened that its complete service would be blocked in Pakistan. It is extremely heart-wrenching that Google preferred its commercial interest over the values of human rights and the Ahmadiyya Quran App has been removed by Google from its Pakistani server.