Current Affairs

Current Affairs (Rashid Ahmad Chaudhry) President Zia-ul-Haq addressing the Christian community of Pakistan recently said that every person in Pakistan was free to worship according to his faith and there were no restrictions in this regard. He also said that the members of all minority communities were enjoying equal rights and they were not being treated as second rate citizens. The President was speaking in Rawalpindi at a dinner arranged in his honour by a Jordanian, Dr. Batarfeh, a spiritual leader of the Christian community. I wonder how the President of a country could make such a public statement, which he knows fully well, is far from truth. A few months back, in the city of Rahim Yar Khan, a Christian Church was ransacked, and in Jacobabad Sind, 16 Hindu temples were gutted in a single day, which was the work of the government backed Mullahs. Not to talk of the minorities, even the smaller Muslim sects are fearful of their future. Only a few days ago an Ahmadiyya mosque in Mardan city was razed to the ground by a crowd of 200 led by the Mullahs, under the direct supervision of the law enforcing authorities. The fact is that 4 million Ahmadis are virtually under siege in their own country. More than 500 have been arrested for professing and practising their religious beliefs, and many of them are awaiting court decisions. In one such case an Ahmadi was given 10 years rigorous imprisonment. They have been denied admission in educational institutions as well as employment opportunities. 132 Ahmadiyya mosques were desecrated by orders of police or magistrates. Their publications and literature proscribed, and the only daily newspaper belonging to Ahmadis ceased publication in 1984 due to Government orders. 19 prominent Ahmadis have been assassinated in the last two years and the most heinous crime of them all, is that their dead have been exhumed in certain cases. The total Ahmadiyya population has been disenfranchised as they can register as voters only if they denounce their faith. That the Government is trying to annihilate the Ahmadis is clear from the 40 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS message General Zia sent to a religious conference held in London last year in which he stated: “We will persevere in our efforts to ensure that the Cancer of Qadianism (derogatory term for Ahmadiyyat) is exterminated.” And his Prime Minister declared on 27 November, 1985 in a conference: “The government has taken many steps to deal with this problem (Ahmadis). It is hoped that other Muslim countries will take similar steps to crush this curse with full force.” The Pakistan government has been afflicted with the disease of religious intolerance for a long time now. The minorities have therefore genuine fear about the intentions of the present government of Pakistan. This fear is aggravated by the passing of a new legislation which makes it a capital offence to what would appear to be an insult to the status of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him), in the eyes of a particular sect. Mr. George Felix, President of Pakistan United Christian Organisations U.K. has rightly said, “This bill insults Pakistanis of all religions and beliefs because insults are the child of an irrational mind.” Surely the Pakistani President cannot befool the world any more.