Pakistan’s minister of state for parliamentary affairs has called for the beheading of people who commit blasphemy. “Beheading is the only punishment for those who mock Prophet Muhammad,” Ali Muhammad Khan tweeted in the Urdu language. Khan made the controversial comments in response to conflicting reports that Ahmadis had been given representation on a newly established National Minorities Council. Ahmadis do not believe that Muhammad was the last prophet. Rabwah Times, an independent digital media publication covering minorities, first reported that Prime Minister Imran Khan had given his consent to include Ahmadis in the council. The report, which was also aired by local TV channels, sparked hateful media campaigns targeting the minority Ahmadi community.
Multiple trends appeared on Twitter condemning the government for including Ahmadis in the council. Many demanded that Ahmadis be declared traitors. In a separate video statement on April 30, Ali Khan categorically denied media reports that Ahmadis would be added to the minorities council. “No such decision has been taken by the cabinet. Imran Khan rejected the proposal, saying it’s a sensitive topic which should not be touched,” the minister said. “Qadiyanis [a slang term for Ahmadis] can only become part of any commission if they first declare themselves to be non-Muslims as per the constitution of Pakistan. If they don’t accept the Pakistani constitution, there is no question of them being part of any commission. “Our religious affairs minister, Pir Noor ul Haq Qadri, has already clarified this. So don’t strain yourself. These are only rumors. They have not been included in any commission nor can anyone ever do so. If ever any such thing was done, we will be the first to quit this government.” In February, Ali Khan tabled a resolution in the National Assembly calling for the public hanging of people convicted of murdering and raping children. The resolution was passed. Jamaat Ahmadiyya Pakistan spokesman Salimuddin said there has been no official or unofficial correspondence from the government about the minorities council. “We can state our position only after the government contacts us or makes an official statement,” he said. Salimuddin also noted that Ali Khan had a history of making threats against the Ahmadi community. On April 28, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom designated Pakistan as a “country of particular concern” for engaging in systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom, The commission urged Pakistan to repeal blasphemy and anti-Ahmadiyya laws.
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