The demolition of six minarets by the police at an Ahmadi place of worship in Kharian says a lot about the continued official discrimination against the beleaguered community and our culpability in this discrimination. The spate of attacks on Ahmadi places of worship and the continuous assault on their property and business has made life intolerable for them. Meanwhile, every time we sign a form specifically singling out the Ahmadi community as not being Muslim, we are quietly adding to the many problems it faces in the country. It is our acquiescence to the treatment meted out to Ahmadis that allows injustice to continue and even intensify. Essentially, in Pakistan, Ahmadis have been declared an outlawed community, one that is not only undeserving of protection, but in whose case law-enforcement agencies do nothing if vigilantes target the community.
Since the government has shown absolutely no inclination to protect the Ahmadi community from trumped-up attacks, it will be up to those few human rights campaigners and others, who care about the plight of downtrodden communities, to chronicle and reveal the many cases of violence against them. In Kharian, the complaint was that the Ahmadi place of worship should not have minarets since that would make the place of worship resemble a mosque. In other cases, Ahmadis have been accused of blasphemy and other crimes when the real issue was perhaps a property dispute or a related matter. In such cases, the police nearly always end up taking the side of the aggressor.
As tempting as it may be to simply turn a blind eye to the treatment of Ahmadis because the community is small and not worth the bother, we should always keep in mind that it is exactly this intolerant and bigoted attitude that has made life impossible for other minority communities and sects. The Shia Hazara community is just one example of a group of people, who are being targeted in a similar manner. Soon, groups will be targeted not just on the basis of their ethnicity and beliefs but also because of their lifestyle. Not stopping this menace dead in its tracks now, only ensures that it mushrooms and takes over the entire country later.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2012.