PAKISTAN: 42 Years of Systematic Discrimination of Ahmadis by State Actors
Statement by the International Human Rights Committee
Islamabad/Pakistan, 08.09.2016 (AHRC) – The 7th September is one of the darkest days in the history of Pakistan when religion was firmly inducted to be the basis of the state affairs. This laid the foundation of unprecedented discrimination, abhorrence and violence against other religions, other sects or other interpretations of religion that did not conform the religious interpretations of the perpetrators of this change.
42 years ago, in 1974, on this day the Second Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan was passed whereby the Ahmadis, the followers of Ahmadi sect, were declared to be non-Muslims in Pakistan. By virtue of the amendment the State has been given arbitrary powers to determine who is a Muslim and who is not. Instead of providing the right of freedom of religion and faith to its citizens, this was a systematic and conscious design to curb human rights and freedom of religious beliefs.
As a result of this change the influence of fundamentalist forces to run the state affairs and how people should follow their beliefs reached to unprecedented levels. The zeal and the fervour with which Youm-e-Khatam e Nabuwat (The Day of Finality of Prophet hood), marked on September 7, is celebrated is a manifestation of the fundamentalist mind-set so prevalent in the country.
The amendment opened a Pandora box of religious intolerance and extremism in the country when in 1974, Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam and Jamaat-e-Islami began a fierce campaign against Ahmadis in Pakistan. The Saudi King at the time, King Faisal bin As-Saud then pressured Pakistan to criminalize all religious practices of Ahmadis where they referred to themselves as Muslims or behaved like one. Under this Saudi pressure, as well as to appease the two religious groups, Pakistan’s parliament adopted a new law that declared Ahmadis as non-Muslims
A further blow to the freedom of religion came when a military dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq, made another anti-Ahmadiyya amendment in the Constitution of Pakistan which restricted the freedom of religion for Ahmadis. According to this law, Ahmadis cannot call themselves Muslim or “pose as Muslims” which is punishable by three years in prison. The combination of Ordinance XX and the 1974 amendment gave full rights to the state to decide who was a Muslim, and who was not.
The amendment irreversibly damaged the moral and social fabric of the society tarnishing its image as a secular republic. As a result, the clergy become so powerful to practically dictate the state. The military-mullah nexus proved to be a harbinger of self-destruction one witnesses in the country nowadays. The vulnerable groups particularly minority and women suffer incessantly due to the increasing intolerance set in motion by the amendment.
As a result of this amendment the state has been reduced to a theocratic state where might is right and rule of law is nonexistent. Blasphemy law has further eroded the structure of state giving complete impunity to religious fundamentalists to do as they please. The constitutional guarantees are completely disregarded and state does little to exert control over unscrupulous elements interfering with the writ of the state.
When Pakistan was being formed in 1947, its population of non-Muslims was 23%, today there are between 3%-4% non-Muslims left in the state due to restrictive, repressive and discriminatory policies of the state. (…)
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The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) works towards the radical rethinking and fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in order to protect and promote human rights in Asia. Established in 1984, the Hong Kong based organisation is a Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award, 2014.
Additional Information from the International Human Rights Committee on the constitutional discrimination against Ahmadis in Pakistan:
- Report about one of the conferences held by opponents of the Ahmadiyya community on Wednesday, 7 September 2016. This conference was held at the Qari Shabbir Usmani’s madrassa at Muslim Colony, Rabwah.