Kill Hate, Not Each Other
According to a recent news report an organization called, All-Pakistan Students Khatam-e-Nabuwwat is disseminating pamphlets declaring Ahmadis wajibul qatl (liable to be murdered) for their religious believes. The local police authorities in their usual style are sweeping that issue under the carpet. Pakistan is a boiling pot of sectarian strife. The sectarian discord escalated in 1980s and Pakistan became a proxy battle ground for the Sunni and Shia organizations, heavily funded by the Saudi Arabia and Iran for the dominance of their respective faiths. However, the history of sectarian violence in Pakistan goes back to the days of its inception.
In 1953, when Pakistan was still trying to establish itself as a stable state, the anti-Ahmadi riots, led by Jamat-i-Islami and Majlis-e-Khatame Nabuwwat, broke out in Punjab. The agitators burned down two post offices, a police station and gunned down a deputy superintendent of police. The situation went so out of control that government had to impose martial law in Punjab. The demands presented by the leaders of anti-Ahmadi agitations were, to declare Ahmadis as non-Muslism, the removal of an Ahmadi foreign minister Zafrullah Khan and the ban on employment of Ahmadis in government service.
Maulana Mauddudi, head of Jamat-i-Islami, was one of the leaders of the anti-Ahmadi agitation. He received a death sentence in military court trial. However, under international pressure from the Muslim countries, his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. It is widely claimed that the Punjab government of Mumtaz Daultana supported the riots to divert attention from its failed economic policies.
In 1974, following another violent spell of riots, a constitutional amendment was unanimously passed by the national assembly, which expelled Ahmadis from the folds of Islam against their wishes. In 1984, then President General Zia further curbed the liberties of the Ahmadi community by promulgating Ordinance XX. According to this Ordinance, the Ahmadis lost the right to call themselves Muslim or to perform Islamic rituals.
Once the Ahmadi issue was dealt with, the focus of sectarian violence shifted in mid-late 1980s. The first incident of sectarian aggression targeting mainstream Muslims occurred on March 23, 1987 when Ahl-i-Hadith leader Allama Ehsan Elahi Zaheer along with others got killed in a bomb planted under the stage during a meeting. In 1988, Arif Hussain, the leader of Tehrik-i-Nifaze Fiqha-i-Jafaria was assassinated. In 1990, Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, the founder of Sunni organization Sipah-i-Sahabah, was murdered. The extremist Sunni organizations have been persistent with their demand of declaring Shias as a non-Muslim minority. Even today, these organizations distribute pamphlets which call for ousting of Shias from Islam.
People with extremist mind-set are blinded by hate and insecurity. They call themselves Muslim but fail to comprehend that Islam urges to protect the rights of minorities. Those who argue that Ahmadis are not just ordinary ‘minority’, they are hypocrites, should remember that nurturing this kind of argument would annihilate us one day. After persecuting Ahmadis and killing Shias the extremists would fight among themselves on petty issues such as not showing their ankles during prayers because one sect considers it part of the faith while the other considers it an inconsequential act. In fact, a man was killed for that very reason by the Taliban in Swat a couple of years ago.
The sectarian skirmishes are making our society shallow and devoid of humanity, which is the core of every religion and ethics in the world. Sixty-four years later, the sectarian divisions run so deep in our society that one can’t help question the fact that if Pakistan was not created in the name religion would things have been different today.
Here is a very amateurish video I made but is relevant to the current issue.
Edited version of this post is available on: The Express Tribune