Ahmadis in Pakistan Have no Eid to Celebrate


Photo by @Afghan for ADN

By Fatima Chaudhary 

When it comes to Ahmadis, Pakistan forgets its leit motif–a nation for Muslims. Ahmadis are Muslims but have no right to celebrate Islam’s festivals, read Kalma, call their religious place mosque and, the most humiliating of all, identify themselves as Muslims in Pakistan. The country forbids millions of Ahmadis from being Muslims in a nation created for Muslims.

Every Eid ul Adha or Eid ul Fitr, Ahmadis have to hide inside their homes and ensure that no neighbor pries into their rooms or courtyards to see whether they are celebrating the festival as others freely do so. This year too, like in other years, Ahmadis have been arrested for bringing in goats for sacrifice, an indispensable part of the festivities. Many of the cases were filed by the rabidly sectarian group, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). In other cases, the police stopped them from celebrating the festival. The police charged them with violating the Constitution.

Most of these incidents have happened in Punjab where sectarian extremism has been swelling over the years. It does not matter which party runs the government, the province as well as the state have refused to protect the Ahmadis even though the Supreme Court in 2021 had directed that Ahmadis as citizens of Pakistan were free to practise their religion and if carried out in properties owned by them, it was not violative of the Constitution.

Termed as the Tahir Naqqash judgement, the Supreme Court had adjudicated a criminal case filed against Naqqash and others for running an Ahmadi religious place as an Islamic mosque with Islamic verses written on the walls. The Ahmadi petitioners had argued that it was a crime to propagate their religion in public by posing as Muslims but there was no bar on them to profess and practice their religion as per their faith. They pressed that they would not dare defile the Koran or the name of the Holy Prophet. The court, upholding the petitioner’s claim, stated that “All citizens of Pakistan, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, are guaranteed fundamental rights under the Constitution including equality of status, freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship subject to law and public morality. The Constitution emphasizes that only when we honor these values can we, the people of Pakistan, prosper and attain the rightful and honored place amongst the nations of the world and make full contribution towards peace, progress and happiness of humanity.“

The highest court of Pakistan pointed out aberrations in law towards minorities, “ also deeply bruises and disfigures human dignity and the right to privacy of a non-Muslim minority, who like all other citizens of this country enjoy the same rights and protections under the Constitution. Bigoted behavior towards our minorities paints the entire nation in poor color, labelling us as intolerant, dogmatic and rigid. It is time to embrace our constitutional values and live up to our rich Islamic teachings and traditions of equality and tolerance.“

Despite such a high-sounding moral stand taken by the apex court, there has been no challenge to the fundamental reason why the Ahmadis are being treated and punished worse than `non-believers`. No judge has taken the courage to review which banished the Ahmadis from the fold of Islam.  The media welcomed the amendment, and so did the parliamentarians. Then in 1984, Ordinance XX came into the picture which forbade Ahmadis from calling themselves Muslims, their religious places as mosques or their call to prayer as azaan. Violations invited imprisonment and other forms of violence by extremist outfits which had sprouted during the Zia-ul Haq regime. The Ordinance, despite being so obnoxious, remains in the books. 

Yet, there has been no noise from the so-called civil rights groups or otherwise vocal human rights brigade. The civil rights groups have been complicit in the collective punishment of Ahmadis for being Muslims in a country created for Muslims.

Fatima Chaudhary is a lecturer at a private university in Punjab province.

Note: The contents of the article are of sole responsibility of the author. Afghan Diaspora Network will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the articles. 

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