A Pakistani man looks at a poster displayed outside a shop "banning Ahmadi customers from entering" at a market in Lahore on Dec. 14, 2015. (Photo: AFP)
A Pakistani politician from a provincial ruling coalition has sought to expel the minority Ahmadi community from a district saying they cannot hold worship in the Islamic state except at designated places.
Malik Ilyas Awan, deputy president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) in an application to the deputy commissioner in Khushab district in Punjab province on July 30 has called for the withdrawal of security provided to Ahmadis in Jauharabad town.
Quoting the Constitution, Awan said: “They cannot worship openly in the Islamic state of Pakistan. They were granted a place in Chenab Nagar during the government of (late Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali) Bhutto. They cannot hold any kind of worship outside."
He further stated that the Ahmadis should be expelled from the district as they did not believe in Khatm-e-Nubuwwat (finality of Prophethood).
“The policemen appointed for their security must be thinking whether they are loyal to Prophet Muhammad or protecting those against the Khatm-e-Nubuwwat. Secondly, it is having a negative impact on our children,” said Awan, who is also a member of the supreme council, Tahaffuz Khatm-e-Nubuwwat.
Speaking to UCA News, Awan vowed to pursue the case against the Ahmadis who are considered by mainstream Pakistani Muslims as heretics because of their belief that their founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a prophesized messiah.
“We are peaceful and will continue the legal battle. We are not at war with Qadianis [a religious slur used for Ahmadis]. It is up to the government to expel them. But we will not utter the kalma (proclamation of faith) of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad,” Awan said.
In 1984, President General Zia ul-Haq promulgated an ordinance prohibiting Ahmadiyya people from indulging in "anti-Islamic activities" by restricting them from referring to themselves as Muslims or preaching their beliefs.
Ahmadiyya people make up 0.09 percent of Pakistan's population of 207.68 million.
The Ahmadiyya population in Pakistan has declined over almost two decades, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics report on the sixth Population and Housing Census-2017, released last year.
Rabwah, renamed Chenab Nagar by the state government, sits on the banks of the Chenab River and is now considered a sanctuary for Pakistani Ahmadis.
In a statement issued yesterday on Aug. 1, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan “strongly” condemned the demand of the PML-Q leader.
“The ghettoization of this long-persecuted community must cease immediately. No authority has the right to dictate where any citizen chooses to live. The state is under a constitutional responsibility to protect the Ahmadiyya community’s right to life, to live where they choose and to profess their faith safely. Of equal concern is the incitement to violence implicit in the PML-Q leader’s demand,” it stated.
Last month, 13 Ahmadis were arrested for sacrificing animals during Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice, in four cities including Rabwah.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has criticized the “continuing mistreatment of the Ahmadiyya community.”
“As party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the government bears responsibility for ensuring effective protections and freedoms for all. It should therefore concentrate its efforts on repealing legislation which restricts the fundamental human rights of this community, rather than arresting and imprisoning them ostensibly for the peaceful exercise of their religious beliefs,” the CSW stated
Amir Mehmood, who handles communications for the minority Ahmadi sect, called it “Ahmadi phobia.”
“This issue won’t stop on Ahmadis alone. Will other sects accept each other? Fatwas of kufr (non-belief) are common on the walls of our streets. This storm of hatred must be stopped. There is no law to evict Ahmadis,” he told UCA News.