On Friday – a day that has been marked with a terrorist attack during Friday prayers for so long now that I have gotten used to turning the TV on around 2 PM to check which city has been ravaged to pieces this week – two Ahmadi places of worship were attacked by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. 3000 people were trapped inside, over 90 killed and over 100 injured.
I cannot call the ‘place of worship’ a mosque because I would be thrown into jail for doing so, either in print or on this blog. There would be an angry mob – the same mob that declares social networking websites as entirely evil.
There is nothing in the constitution that says this, but if one were to interpret the constitution, I would have a criminal case against me for having used mosque for a sect that the constitution says cannot use the word ‘mosque’ to identify its ‘place of worship’.
In 1974, the Constitution of Pakistan featured this inclusion that made Ahmadis non-Muslims, and the Pakistan Penal Code was amended in 1984 to impose punishments. For decades, Ahmadis have been killed, harassed and maimed. (See this list of cases registered against Ahmadis.) The country’s only Nobel Prize winner was an Ahmadi, but his treatment at the hands of the state of Pakistan was beyond appalling.
The rest of us Pakistanis, regardless of whether we practice our faith or not, will never have to face the fear that Ahmadis do when filling out a form that asks them their religion, and having to tick Muslim simply because they do not want to be the subject of a nameless mob’s fury and self-righteous condemnation.
Instead, every time we fill out a form to register for an identity card or a passport, we sign a declaration that says:
‘I solemnly affirm that, I believe conditionally and unconditionally in the finality of the Prophethood of the Prophet MUHAMMAD (PBUH), and that I am not a follower of any person who claims Prophethood on the basis of any interpretation of this word, neither I believe such a claimant to be a reformer or a prophet, nor I belong to Qadiani or Lahori group or call myself Ahmadi.’
Pakistan is the only country in the world that requires its citizens to sign this.
The fact that the Taliban thought they were doing the right thing by attacking Ahmadis, the responsibility for this belief of theirs, lies collectively at the hands of every government that has created, enforced and perpetuated the law, that has stood by while hundreds of Ahmadis have been victims of target killings, at television evangelists who have justified killing Ahmadis, at organisations – supported by politicians and the state – that have called for Ahmadis to be killed, organisations that sheltered the killers, and at every citizen who has signed this document to obtain an identity card to be officially counted as a Pakistani.
Pakistanis have said they are ashamed, but others supported the Taliban for having besieged two places of worship. Mohammed Hanif posted on Twitter that a grand total of 40 people were present at a protest against the attacks in Islamabad.
Pakistan should have been a secular state, but it isn’t. But even if it is destined to be a religious state for the rest of its existence, can it not ensure that the minorities – that it has declared to be minorities – are safe?
Read the following blogposts for more:
- Chapati Mystery: We are all Ahmadi. Parts I, II and III
- Kala Kawa: Hanging my head in shame
- The World Has Stopped Spinning: Our collective shame
- Changing up Pakistan: Targeting the Ahmadis
- BBC Urdu: Kaafir Factory
- Al Jazeera Blogs: Are all Pakistanis equal?
- Cafe Pyala: The Original Sin
- A Reluctant Mind:We all have blood on our hands
- The Express Tribune: Saviours of the day recount tales of horror