Gunmen armed with AK-47 rifles and shotguns and suicide bombers forced their way into Darul Zikr in Garhi Shahu and Baitun Nur Model Town, two mosques in Lahore, belonging to the Ahmadiyya Muslim community on Friday 28 May 2010. They held hostages, hurled grenades and sprayed worshippers attending a Friday sermon indiscriminately with bullets. Ahmadi Muslims therefore grappled with the gunmen and managed to overpower one by clinging to a suicide bomber, preventing further loss of life. The police turned up late. As the media began to transmit live scenes, one gunman could be seen for several minutes on top of the roof and could have been an easy target for the police yet none took any action. The terrorists martyred 86 and injured and maimed more than 125. After more than three and a half hours some peace was restored and the police stepped in to claim a great hollow victory.
The deceased include retired Judge Munir Ahmad Sheikh, Amir (President) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in Lahore; Major General Nasir Ahmad, President of the Model Town community; its resident missionary, Mr Mahmud Shad; and, a number of other senior community officials and members and also many ordinary, peace-loving Ahmadi Muslims, all of whom had naturally come – unarmed – to offer the Friday Prayer.
Highly dogmatic and narrow-minded Muslim bigots fuelled the ideology that killing a non-Muslim, and in particular an Ahmadi Muslim, is such a meritorious act that the Prophet of Islam(saw) would personally welcome such mur-derers to Paradise and beautiful harlots would await their entry. A cleric declared Ahmadis are Wajibul Qatl i.e. they must be killed.
The discriminatory ideology against Ahmadis has penetrated the highest levels of government in Pakistan. In 1974 Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, otherwise a secular leader, produced the Second Amendment to the Pakistan Constitution declaring anyone who does not believe in the absolute finality of the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet(saw) as a non-Muslim for purposes of the law. A clearly political move at the behest of Wahhabist rulers and their cahoots in the Jama’at-i-Islami designed to muster support from the Muslim clergy.
Whereas the Founder of the Jama’at-i-Islami and many other sects currently in power in Pakistan had originally opposed the establishment of a separate homeland for Muslims when Pakistan was being formed (organisations like Majlis-i-Ahraar went to the extent of calling Pakistan – ‘Pak’ means pure – Paleedistan i.e. impure), Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan had sacrificed life and blood for their beloved country and honoured it with the first and only Noble Laureate, Dr Abdus Salam, and the first Judge at the International Court of Justice in The Hague and first Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan. Their reward for their loyalty and patriotism was continuing persecution.
The West is just as guilty for funding the very worm that has turned on it. Through Saudi and Kuwaiti governments, the West supported the Jama’at-i-Islami and the Mujahideen in removing the Russians from Afghanistan. While that objective was being achieved, they also permitted the military dictator General Ziaul Haq to issue an Ordinance and other directives that made it a punishable offence for Ahmadi Muslims, amongst other ludicrous things, to:
- extend greetings of peace to others;
- make the call for prayers;
- call their places of worship as mosques;
- hold sports events or other gatherings;
- call themselves Muslims including when filling passport application forms
General Zia met his sorry end at the Hand of God Almighty but unfortunately his lessons were not learnt.
Ahmadi Muslims have been arrested and put in prison since 1984 on 3721 various concocted charges (ranging from making the call for prayers, posing as Muslims, offering prayers, etc.) and sentenced arbitrarily. Ahmadi shops have been looted and set ablaze. Ahmadi mosques have been desecrated. Those bent on destroying Ahmadis and mocking them are given full rights, yet on the other hand Ahmadis are not allowed to hold gatherings to promote peace and brotherhood. In fact, an FIR1 was issued against ALL Ahmadi inhabitants of Rabwah. Have you heard of anything so mad and ridiculous?
Many sections of the Pakistani media played a commendable role in highlighting the atrocities of these attacks and the plight of Pakistani Ahmadis. As a conse-quence some politicians expressed their mooted sympathies, but on the whole the leaders chose to ignore this sad loss of Ahmadi lives. Two official spokespersons of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Pakistan, Mirza Khursheed Ahmad, Nazir-e-Ala (President) of the Sadr Anjamun, Executive Committee Pakistan, and Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a director of the same body, held respective press conferences where prominent media representatives and the major Pakistani TV channels attended. The Ahmadi situation since 1974 and the state-sanctioned persecution against Ahmadis were expounded in some detail. Yet not even a small part of these press conferences was relayed on any Pakistani TV station.
It is true that Shias, Sunnis, and Christians, etc., have all suffered at the hands of extremists. The Ahmadiyya community is the only community in Pakistan, however, which has state-sanctioned laws in Pakistan’s constitution that allow, and in fact encourage, people to persecute Ahmadis. The Lahore attacks are thus the result of a build up of decades of state sanctioned persecution against the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Pakistan. More than 100 Ahmadis had been martyred even before the Lahore attacks in Pakistan, yet not a single one of the culprits have ever been brought to justice. Since 1974’s Second Amendment and further in 1984 when General Zia introduced Ordinance XX, the constitution of Pakistan has provided an open door to anybody to commit any crime against Ahmadis without the fear of reprisal. In short, the everyday life of Ahmadis in Pakistan has been made a crime. Following an attack on the Ahmadi mosque in Mong Rasul, the terrorists caught red-handed were set free by a Justice system that protects the rights of all but Ahmadis.
The Founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah said:
“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State…..”
Today, Pakistan has an erratic power supply and suffers from chronic shortages and rampant inflation at home while abroad it is termed a non-State; its credit-rating worse, its human rights record is deplorable and its politicians powerless. Minority groups, particularly the Ahmadiyya Muslim community2, are persecuted with sanction from the state. The responsibility for this dastardly callous state of affairs must rest with the Pakistan Government, Punjab provincial authorities, and also the Muslim clergy who have completely ignored and forgotten the vision laid down by Jinnah. In doing so they, in fact, ignore the teachings of tolerance and respect brought by the Holy Prophet(saw) himself.
1. Leaders have been hasty to enact constitutional amend-ments to protect their hold on power but have done nothing to repeal laws and ordinances that protect Ahmadi Muslims:
2. Pakistani politicians are so impotent that they continue to appease semi-literate clerics who have only bred hatred among the masses.
3. Successive Pakistani govern-ments have willingly turned a blind eye to the plight of a persecuted religious com-munity.
4. They have allowed the Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat, an association that has raised its ugly head in some western countries to:
a) hold hate rallies in Rabwah, the headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim com-munity;
b) reign freely in stoking up animosity against a religious community and asking that all citizenship rights be denied to Ahmadi Muslims;
c) repeatedly stick up posters in the Pakistan Supreme Courts and street shops declaring that Ahmadi Muslims are wajibul qatl meaning that they must be killed; the logo of the Punjab government is visible on many of these posters and banners which blatantly incite hatred against Ahmadi Muslims;
e) be instrumental, directly or indirectly, in causing the murder of several Ahmadi Muslims;
f) ensure that Ahmadi Muslims are charged under blasphemy or other laws while at the same time ensuring that no one is arrested in connection with any crime committed against an Ahmadi; and
g) hold conferences attended by the Minister of Religion in Pakistan and the son of the Punjab Governor.
Never before in Pakistan have so many been killed in two mosques belonging to a single sect on the same date. Never before has the hand of the Pakistan Government been so exposed in allowing this heinous act to take place on its own soil and doing nothing to remove the posters that call for hatred against Ahmadis and their murder. The time has come for the Pakistan Government to remove the posters that call for the murder of anyone or a community.
Worth mentioning in the aftermath of the Lahore attacks was the true Islamic response of members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community who are guided by the Khalifa. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V(aba), the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, delivered his Friday sermon live via MTA International just a few hours after the attacks. He told Ahmadis around the world to be patient and to pray profusely, to exhibit steadfastness, to respond with prayers and patience, because in actual fact all Prophets have always told their followers to react in exactly this manner. As Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V(aba) explained, since the time of the Prophet Adam(as), all Prophets have been opposed and persecuted. They and their followers have been oppressed, beaten, killed and harassed in every way possible, none more than the Holy Prophet(saw) and his followers. God’s Message is always opposed violently and truth is always suppressed. But it is with prayers, kindness, compassion and patience that the Prophets and their followers bore those tragedies, and because of this God granted them successes and ultimate victory.
Hence despite all the atrocities, Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan will, of course, continue to be loyal citizens of Pakistan and will do their utmost to work with the authorities in maintaining peace and order in society. They will co-operate with authorities and abide by the law. The only thing they demand of Pakistan is that they be treated as citizens of their State and be offered the same protection that has been accepted as an international standard by all countries.
- (First Information Report – a written document issued by the police in Pakistan regarding an alleged criminal offence and which enables the police to begin proceedings and investigations)
- Readers should note that the Ahmadiyya Muslim community is referred to here as ‘minority’ with reference to Pakistani Law only. Our firm belief however, is that we are Muslims and therefore are not a minority as such.