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Growing persecution of the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan. By Ata Us Salam

Since a Sunni political party Tahrik Labbak-ya-Rasool-Allah (TLYRA) has started to gain popularity in Pakistan during the last few years, it seems that the Sialkot is becoming the worst hit area of extremist activities of radical Sunnis. This fundamentalist party of Sunnis has gained so much power that its workers disrupt the whole country whenever and wherever they want. This party claims itself as the main guard of Khatam-e-Nabuwwat belief in Pakistan.

According to the constitution of Pakistan, the meaning of Khatam-e-Nabuwwat is that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the final Prophet of God and there could not be any Prophet after him. Any person who does not believe in it will be considered as a non-Muslim. Any such person will not be allowed to use Islamic traditions and would be subject to law in case of using them. Many members of the Ahmadiyya community have faced imprisonments just by saying As’Salam’o’Alaikum (peace be on you). This word and many other traditions are taken from the Bible and were used by the earlier prophets but now rogue Sunnis and Shias have claimed them their own and prohibited Ahmadis from using them by introducing the discriminatory legislation in the constitution of Pakistan. I do not think that any non-Islamic country has introduced such cruel laws for their minorities which prohibits them from their fundamental human rights.

Some months ago, ruling party of Pakistan, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) tried to introduce a bill called Election bill 2017 which had omitted the clause of belief in Khatam-e-Nabuwwat before taking oath as a public servant by the elected politician. When leaders of Tahrik Labbak-ya-Rasool-Allah learned about the amendment in the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat law they started protests in the whole Pakistan and staged a sit-in in the city of Rawalpindi. Initially the PML (N) government tried to resolve this issue with dialogue, then tried to use force to disperse the highly hostile mob but eventually police failed to control them. Finally the government had to make an agreement with the mob leaders which resulted in the resignation of the federal law minister of Pakistan, Mr Zahid Hamid. After his resignation, members of TLYRA started to relinquish control of Pakistani roads which they had occupied during their protests.

Though they finished their road protests, they started to target the senior members of the PML (N) government. Their first target was the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, who was hit with a shoe when he was addressing a seminary. Their next target was the former Federal minister of Pakistan for Foreign affairs, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, who had black ink thrown in his face by a member of the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat group when he was addressing a public gathering in the city of Sialkot. Then an extremist member of this group injured the Federal Interior Minister of Pakistan, Ahsan Iqbal, with a bullet on 6th May 2018. That terrorist could have killed Mr Ahsan Iqbal if he had not quickly been captured by the commandos of the police force. This incident happened in a nearby town of Sialkot city. Someone might think why radical sentiments are getting so high in the Sialkot area? The answer is that the law minister of Pakistan, Zahid Hamid, who had introduced that controversial amendment in the oath of public servants, belongs to Sialkot. One can understand from these incidents the attachment of radical Sunnis with this issue. They are ready to kill every person who would try to change this legislation in Pakistan.

Less than 3 weeks after this incident, a mob of Sunni fundamentalists demolished the Bait-ul-Mubarak Mosque of the Ahmadiyya community and the house of Hassam-ud-din where the founder of the Ahmadiyya community Prophet Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (PBUH) used to pray and stay during his visits to Sialkot. This highly charged mob was raising the slogans of Labbak-Ya-Rasool Allah. After demolishing these holy places of the Ahmadiyya community, the leader of this mob, Hamid Raza, praised the co-operation of the District Police Officer, Deputy Commissioner and Tahsil Municipal Officer of the city. An important point to note is that the elected chairman of that area also took part in demolishing the Ahmadiyya holy sites. Only 2 or 3 days after this heinous act, another mosque of the Ahmadiyya community was targeted in the city of Sialkot. All of this persecution is happening with the support of government officials of Sialkot city and on the very next day after these acts, the Chief Minister of Punjab province, Mr Shahbaz Sharif, issues a letter of appreciation and a cheque of Pak Rupee 100,000 to the Assistant Commissioner of Sialkot on his brilliant performance. Not even a single person of this mob was arrested despite the fact that many video clips are available on Social Media of those rogues who were demolishing the mosque and the historical house of Ahmadiyya community in Sialkot city.

Shahbaz Sharif is the current president of PML (N) after the disqualification of his elder brother Nawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court of Pakistan and PML (N) requires a peaceful atmosphere for them to run the election campaign for the coming elections. It feels they have secretly contacted the fundamentalists of Khatam-e-Nabuwwat to persecute the Ahmadiyya community with full freedom instead of targeting the politicians of PML (N). Apparently the Assistant Commissioner of Sialkot has used his influence in diverting hateful sentiments towards the Ahmadiyya community possibly by using the money or his authority. Less than a week after targeting Ahmadiyya sites an Ahmadi was injured with 2 bullets fired by two unknown terrorists in the town of Shahdara. On the other side, hate preachers of Khatam-e-Nabuwwat are issuing Fatwas that the persecution of Ahmadis is legitimate.

I appeal to the United Nations and other International powers to take immediate action on it otherwise these fanatics will harm a large number of the Ahmadiyya community of Pakistan by taking advantage of widespread hateful sentiments after the Election Bill 2017 and the presence of a weak caretaker government. This bill was of no benefit to Ahmadis because they do not take part in elections as a non-Muslim but the government of PML (N) just introduced it to get international support for their alleged corrupt politicians.

It is a historic fact that whenever persecution of the Ahmadiyya community gets momentum in Pakistan, fundamentalists of the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat start their hate campaign in Britain as well so that the UK government could not support Ahmadis. I think it is the moral responsibility of the British government to immediately raise a voice for the Ahmadiyya community of Pakistan because some politicians of this country are planning to exploit the emotions of the majority population after amendment in the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat law to get votes which could result in more persecution of the Ahmadiyya community by the hands of fanatic Sunnis.