A most dangerous place

Published: September 5, 2011
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Ahmadis may be killed with impunity because their persecution by a significant segment of society is ignored by the state and the government of the day. PHOTO: REUTERS

Ahmadis may be killed with impunity because their persecution by a significant segment of society is ignored by the state and the government of the day. PHOTO: REUTERS

The All-Pakistan Students  Khatam-e-Nabuwwat Federation has killed another Ahmadi in Faisalabad, the city where the Barelvi school of thought has been allowing itself to become dangerously aggressive. Naseem Ahmad Butt was shot to death by four youths calling him wajibul qatl (worthy of being killed). The wajibul qatl verdict was given in a pamphlet distributed in the city earlier by the authoritative-sounding Aalmi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatam-e-Nabuwwat and the All-Pakistan Students Khatam-e-Nabuwwat Federation, Faisalabad. The police were informed but they did nothing, feeling safe behind their routine categorisation of the crime as ‘blind murder’.

The state of Pakistan must look carefully at this pattern of behaviour. Ahmadis may be killed with impunity because their persecution by a significant segment of society is ignored by the state and the government of the day. Then comes the turn of the Shias and other sects who are not considered outside the pale of faith but who are still, nonetheless, target by extremist fellow Muslims who consider their views heretical. Faisalabad has been dominated for a long time by the Ahle Hadith and Deobandi schools of thought but the the Barelvis are also gaining in influence, and they are not to be left behind in their persecution of the Ahmadi community. This is ironic since the Deobandis, for instance, don’t see eye-to-eye at all with the Barelvis on most faith-related matters and both hurl invective, and sometimes much more, at one another.

The Punjab government has to answer for the deaths that have happened under its rule and this includes not just Ahmadis, but also others, including several Christians, all killed by sectarian and jihadi outfits, primarily in Lahore last year. In the public eye, the view that the Punjab government may perhaps have a soft spot for jihadis is reinforced when its law minister meets and campaigns, prior to a by-election, with the leader of a banned sectarian outfit. This could be part of its strategy to gain a foothold in southern Punjab, since long a PPP stronghold, but such a tactic could be lethal for the province’s population of vulnerable people. In the process, Pakistan and its social contract are dying a slow death. The pamphlet mentioned above lists 50 Ahmadis who have to be killed in order to “achieve entry into Paradise”. It says the killers will be given a place under the flag of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the chosen place of luxury in the hereafter. The youths of Faisalabad, blighted by loadshedding and religious hatred, will now betake themselves seriously to the transaction of achieving precisely this, while the state sits by and does nothing. Quite shockingly, the Faisalabad police chief says he has no information about the pamphlets which brazenly name the threatening organisation. The fact of the matter is that the Punjab police is but a reflection of society in general, and is filled with people who have nothing but hatred for those from minority communities, or even for those who stand up in support of them. In Karachi, there is the Sunni Tehreek which is far more aggressive.

In June this year, an Ahmadi place of worship was threatened with assault from a nearby mosque. The threat came from a cleric who knew that his outfit was weaponised and could kill just as easily and with as much impunity as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. The Barelvis were never taken to jihad by the Pakistani state but they have made up in virulence by embracing two laws that have brought infamy to Pakistan: the Second Amendment apostatising the Ahmadis; and the Blasphemy laws.

The state of Pakistan, after having declared the Ahmadi community as non-Muslims, has to protect them the way it is committed, under law and religion, to protecting minority communities. Its failure in Faisalabad to come to the help of the targeted Ahmadis is symptomatic of the terminal phase of its existence. Hatred and extremism are becoming the hallmarks of the sociology of the state.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (31)

  • Ali
    Sep 5, 2011 - 11:53PM

    Wow and what about the discrimination that muslims faces in the non muslim world and the massacres that resulted in the ongoing genocide of muslims from east to west, does anyone here notices that or is it all good under war against terror?!

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  • Pakistan Sunni
    Sep 6, 2011 - 2:41AM

    The dangerous mindset of comment above advocates evil killings of fellow Pakistanis on basis of imaginary genocide of Muslims in the world. for your information there is no current genocide of Muslim anywhere in the world. 1994 Ruwanda genocide 1 million Tutsi Christians were killed in Africa. 1995 Bosina 5 thousand Muslims were killed by Serbrineca massacre but who saved Bosnia it was America and Europe. Recommend

  • Sep 6, 2011 - 7:32AM

    @Ali:
    What are you talking about? Muslims are treated quite fairly in the West. You know, like they are simply “human beings.” Ordinary citizens sometimes end up fearful and a little paranoid but that is not born of hatred for Muslims. It’s born from them being told by terrorists “We want to kill you because we are Muslims and you are not.” So, there is a threat and that threat has so little detail on discerning specific ways of separation it turns into “if I fully ignore it I may die.” Not “you’re a Muslim and I hate you.”

    Though hate-related action can and does happen, it is not country based. It’s bigot based and in the West, those bigots are not accepted and have to be what they are behind closed doors. Any violence towards Muslims or any ethnicity for that matter is actually very rare these days. At most it comes in the form of verbal hostility. Physical hostility falls under their hate crime laws which is a mandatory life sentence and possible death penalty.

    You don’t see any Muslim countries treating non-Muslims well even publicly. The responses to it usually have a feeling of acceptance by the people as well. In the West, the Muslim protection and the punishment for those who do something to them for that reason are actually more than than a white Christian.

    Stop talking so surely about things you know nothing about. The way you’ve stated that makes it no surprise that many are raised believing false things about countries outside their borders. You act like those lies being fact are as natural as breathing.

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  • ikmundapunjabi
    Sep 6, 2011 - 7:55AM

    @Ali: dude,exactly where is this imaginary massacre of yours happening?and how many muslims are being killed?millions of muslims have immigrated to the west and dont think they wud come back if anything bad was happening there?and ask any western muslim if they want to come back to pakistan,india or bangladesh and you’ll get a common answer,NO.

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  • Sajid
    Sep 6, 2011 - 8:22AM

    @ Ali:
    You are a lost soul just trying to find a justification. No where in the world are Muslims being killed after being told “You are a Muslim and therefore you ought to be killed”. I live in the United States, I have never been racially discriminated against, however, when I was in Pakistan, I was often subject to racist/ethnic abuse in Rawalpindi despite myself being a Pakistani. I was regular subject to unnecessary harassments esp. in govt offices where I would have to pull out my National ID Card to prove my nationality. (I understand why Afghans in Pakistan simply despise this country)

    The problem with minorities being subjected to oppression in Pakistan is more serious because institutions of religious credibility call out for it. Tahaffuz e Khatam e Nabuwwat, or whatever that USELESS institution is, calls out for killing and people comply. In USA, when one Terry Jones called out to his hundred odd church members to burn a Koran, 80% of the members of the church left that church!

    You depress me.

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  • faraz
    Sep 6, 2011 - 9:50AM

    @Ali

    If muslims are getting killed abroad, so we should start killing non-muslims here?

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  • Sep 6, 2011 - 9:53AM

    America and these extremists both are killing human beings.. both are same for me

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  • Chilli
    Sep 6, 2011 - 9:56AM

    Religion should be taken as official matter by the government like those in UAE and Arab state. Only this will stop religion business which is of multi million dollars in Pakistan. Only state is responsible for punishment and no individuals can take law into their hands.

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  • NAGB
    Sep 6, 2011 - 10:12AM

    “Molvi” nawaz sharif . . . ?
    Pakistan has recently become Talibanistan

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  • Ahmer
    Sep 6, 2011 - 10:14AM

    A MOST dangerous place??

    you need to correct your grammar.. :\

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  • Lone Star
    Sep 6, 2011 - 10:15AM

    When are the foreign forces coming to Pakistan to help us in getting rid of these corrupt and incompetent politicians???

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  • CB Guy
    Sep 6, 2011 - 10:52AM

    Is there a proof that this organization was behind the murder or is it just a personal opinion? If there are proof, please take them to police. If no one cared about the allegation leveled by Zulfiqar Mirza, my dear no one will listen to you. If you do not have proof and its more of a gut feeling, then i think it is either naive or cunning of you to post such stuff.

    The fact remains that most people murdered in Pakistan do not belong to minorities but since they have nothing out of the ordinary about them, they don’t get any press. Besides if a minority member kills a Muslim, that is also not thought to be worthy of reporting. And what i read in this article shows an extreme discrimination and a clear attempt to identify marked territories of sects and cold wars between them. i am not really sure if this is how things operate in general, may be isolated areas but certainly not in general. It seems that Express Tribune can magnify isolated events but pays no heed to issues related to the public in a greater manner.

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  • SharifL
    Sep 6, 2011 - 11:20AM

    It is good that your editorial talks about the intolerance, but in my opinion it falls short of pointing out the real issues here. You rightly condemn the killings, but perhaps a step further of interpreting Quran would help further. In this 21st century, Islam is not at war with non Muslims we need to reinterpret these suras in a more liberal way. But I know a statement like that will have a backlash and Mullahs will accuse you of you know what. But unless you do that and give arguments to justify tolerance, nothing is going to change. People will be killed for blasphemy, for not being good or ‘proper’ Muslims and so on.
    I say another day, another editorial for the gallery and then business as usual. Recommend

  • Feroz
    Sep 6, 2011 - 11:50AM

    The minorities were promised equal treatment at Independence but have been slowly and steadily divested of all their rights, most of them legally. Today the Constitution of Pakistan reads like a horror document(gives all protection and freedom on one page and supersedes all these with another clause on another page) and the results can be seen on the streets where every citizen is out to dispense Justice as he sees fit. That the Judiciary is also infected by the same virus is hardly comforting. The reputation of the country as one populated by blood thirsty brutes will take decades of hard work to erase. Without urgent and speedy reforms this society may see a very violent end. Many of the comments above are exercises in escapism and reflect the level of indoctrination that is clouding a rational thought process.

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  • Abdul Rehman Gilani
    Sep 6, 2011 - 1:34PM

    Just the usual rhetoric of liberals/seculars who love furthering their perverse agenda under the garb of “minority rights”. I consider both the Second Amendment apostatising the Ahmadis and the Blasphemy laws to be absolutely correct and in line with Islam.

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  • ali
    Sep 6, 2011 - 2:15PM

    ET! As part of responsible journalism can you kindly show the pamphlet that you claim to have been distributed in Faisalabad?
    How can u make a news item out of such stuff when you dont have the documents with you?

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  • lkhan
    Sep 6, 2011 - 2:32PM

    why don’t the madmen of Pakistan read the holy book with care, where tolerance towards other beliefs is encouraged?

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  • Sep 6, 2011 - 3:05PM

    @abdual rehman gilani : The murder of an innocent man is rhetoric for you, you are a disgrace not to Islam but to humanity, I am ashamed to call you my fellow Pakistani. This country is going to hell in the name of Islam. God save us from this cult of the mullahs.

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  • Sep 6, 2011 - 3:10PM

    @Ali: You have presented the exact same logic that Maulvi Madudi did in 1953 in the muir commission inquiry, he was sentenced to death for this very logic by the military court. A tragedy that this sentence was never carried out. As for those asking for proof of the pamphlet Google “Faisalabad pamphlet” and you’ll find it. everybody has the seen the pamphlet, if you choose to live in the darkness don’t take us down with you.

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  • Sheraz
    Sep 6, 2011 - 3:23PM

    So shameful, these people should be punished and Majlis Tahaffuz Khatam-e-Nabuwwat and the All-Pakistan Students Khatam-e-Nabuwwat Federation, should be disbanded and banned, with it’s leadership thrown in jail to rot.

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  • abbas
    Sep 6, 2011 - 4:55PM

    That is a disgrace to Islam and humanity.

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  • AZ
    Sep 6, 2011 - 6:35PM

    @ Abdul Rehman Gilani

    Take the 2 laws and shove them up the place-where-the-sun-dont-shine. That’s all I can say to to your kind.

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  • Ali tanoli
    Sep 6, 2011 - 6:52PM

    i think E.T try to write cause of this problem too loadsheding, unemployment, lack of opurtunities lack of justice social unequality based on jobs and social (Namood o nomaish.
    these are the evil in our society and are causing all these things to happend.

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  • N
    Sep 6, 2011 - 7:18PM

    The Mullahs are the cancer of Pakistan. If cancer spreads too far, the only way out is to cut it off. There is no other easy solution and the politicians should realise it. Today Ahmadies are killed tomorrow it might be your turn.

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  • zeeshan
    Sep 6, 2011 - 7:37PM

    no hopes fro Muslims…. they think that they are on the rite path, they are not bother about humanity…. God save minorities in Pakistan….

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  • Abdul Rehman Gilani
    Sep 6, 2011 - 9:22PM

    @Ali:

    Hundreds of innocent men die in Pakistan everyday, I havent seen a single liberal shed a crocodile’s tear for them. However, they only do so just to further their own hideous ideology.

    @Sheraz:

    Wonder what should be done about leftist APMSO?

    @N:

    Not before the liberals are dumped in the Arabian Sea, who love demonizing clerics. Seriously, does poor mullah have the power to stop you spreading love!? Or if he is that almighty, then why isnt he in the government!

    @AZ:

    You can take your words and shove it at that place first, typical liberal, no wonder your kind are in paucity.Recommend

  • Ali tanoli
    Sep 6, 2011 - 9:24PM

    @ Sajid ;
    America got its own system and foriegn policy is not any body under pressur so please
    dont compare with any devolping country where all these kind of problem exist and second
    please if some crimnals doing some thing its not every body to blame please and afghans
    we did more than any body else in the riegen for them we give them free to live and even
    now in millions they live in pakistan please they shoild be thankfull to pakistan and we are
    in bad situation thank to afghan and their absurd idealogy.Recommend

  • Harry
    Sep 8, 2011 - 6:45PM

    @Ali:

    You’ve changed the topic completely. You want to show how Muslims in non-Muslim lands are supposedly under attack, but provide no details except an opinion. However Muslim deaths in Afganistan have been tallied and 70 to 75% of all civilian deaths there where done at the hands of other Muslims. Thats what this story was about, Muslims killing other Muslims because of percieved differences and intolerance toward anyone with a different opinion.

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  • Naresh
    Sep 9, 2011 - 2:56AM

    Absurd. People being killed because they are BORN Ahmedi. Fits the definition of Ethnic Cleansing, doesn’t it?

    There are people on this board who are okay with this nonsense. No wonder Pakistan is in the top 5 failed states. The social fabric is rapidly disintegrating. Those who support killing are MURDERERS.

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  • syeda bukhari
    Sep 9, 2011 - 9:56AM

    Infect Police cannot play an important role in such extremism activities on this point we need sincere people to speak especially Media can play an important role by good debates that helps to bring positive change in society . Itfaq he sahi but we are human beings and we should remember this honor given to us by ALLAH .

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  • csmann
    Oct 8, 2011 - 11:51PM

    @Ali:

    so ahmadis are responsible for that?what a logic?

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