The brazen attack on innocent Ahmadis in Lahore late last month is not just another terrible terrorist atrocity. It is more significant because there is speculation that the attack by extremist exclusivist forces targeted Ahmadis in order to bolster their own diminishing popularity among the population at large. The argument is that we have among us people who harbour such bizarre views of righteousness that to them eliminating those who may have slightly different beliefs is justifiable and praiseworthy. The fact that such disturbing thought exists within us as a community is not false. There were after all banners on Lahore’s Mall Road, in the lead up to this heinous attack, vilifying Ahmadis and other religions. We have also witnessed religious programmes on television that have advocated the killing of Ahmadis. But whether this thought process exists within a small minority or is in fact the way a large number of Pakistanis think is the key question.
Bigotry and hate exist in every society. What is important is how the state deals with it. In 1953, when anti-Ahmadi rioting first broke out in Pakistan, Khwaja Nazimuddin resisted the pressure to declare Ahmadis non-Muslim. But in 1974, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto succumbed. The fact that Prime Minister Nazimuddin, perhaps at the expense of his office (he was asked to step down soon afterwards), stood for what was right leads me to conclude that things started to go seriously wrong for Pakistan about 35 years ago. On the other hand, if one uses the example of what the blacks had to suffer in America, the history is opposite to ours. As late as the 60s, blacks in the US could not enter many restaurants, had to sit at the back of buses, and so on. But in 1964, America passed momentous legislation in the form of the Civil Rights Act, and though things did not change overnight, racial segregation was legally ended. It was the greatest achievement of the Kennedy government. Slowly, society responded by overcoming age-old prejudices and today America has a black president. This does not mean that all is well, for blacks still have lower average incomes than whites, but things have progressed in the right direction and are much better.
In the aftermath of the Lahore attack, I have heard condemnation from many quarters and outrage from some. The good news is that some who previously agreed with the legal discrimination against Ahmadis in Pakistan have now changed their minds. I find this particularly heartening. I must also praise our women parliamentarians from the PPP, MQM and ANP respectively, at whose behest, our National Assembly called the attack a “barbaric massacre”. The army too should be praised for burying with full military honours Major-General (R) Nasir Ahmed Chaudhry, who was brutally killed in the attack. And Mian Nawaz Sharif also deserves praise for describing Ahmadis as his “brethren” and an “asset for Pakistan”. Nearly every English newspaper has carried stories and opinions not only condemning the massacre but also highlighting the noteworthy contribution of the peaceful Ahmadi community to the Pakistan Movement, a fact that was rarely mentioned in previous years. In fact, I have read a couple of excellent pieces on this subject in the Urdu press as well, notably by Hamid Akhtar and Zaheda Hina.
But by no means is this enough. We must turn the present outrage into courage and take measures to reverse those steps that led us astray and away from the vision of our founding fathers. All our stakeholders, including the politicians, the army, the judiciary, and most importantly, the media need to come together and decide once and for all not to extend patronage to those forces that are bent upon creating divisions, to undo those black laws that give legal sanction to discrimination, to enact our very own Equal Protection Clause so all Pakistanis feel equally Pakistani, and to disallow hate speech. The last point is especially important for the media to consider as it has the most direct impact on opinion formation. Only then can we reclaim Jinnah’s Pakistan where “religion is not the business of the state” but best left between man and his Creator.
Published in the Express Tribune, June 14th, 2010.
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thankyou ma’am for ur support.
Jazak Allah for writing this very courageous article. May we have more people like you in Urdu media as well.
Thank you for your article. A murder is a murder and should not be condoned. What happened in Lahore is nothing new. The Ahmedi community has been through this since 1951. It primarily tells us ineffectiveness of the state, its agencies, and its complete breakdown in containing violence. The idiotic minds of the so-called religious hooligans should not be allowed take law and order in their hands, and if Pakistan failed to contain this violence, we all need to line up to be their next target.
My heart goes for the families who lost their loved ones, and I am nothing but ashamed.
A valuable advice indeed, rather than lamenting the state and citizens we can turn this outrage into something positive. The silent majority must not remain silent any longer as it would be criminal negligence we need to speak out against these blatant atrocities.
I am an Ahmadi….
I am an Ahmadi. There are four million of me in Pakistan. This Islamic Republic is the only state in the world which has officially declared me to to be a non-Muslim. Why? It’s simple. I am an Ahmadi.
Ordinances have been passed against me. Acts and Constitutional Amendments have been drafted around me. Shortly after the heart and soul of our nation was ripped into two, a country reeling to define and defend its own identity unleashed itself upon me. In 1974, a parliament I had voted for adopted a law that outlawed me.
The rest of you were given a different story. Unlike you, I was not a “a person who believes in the finality of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH”. But nobody really asked me what I believed in. Why? Because I am different. Because I don’t matter. Because I am an Ahmadi.
A powerful man who killed another powerful man in the name of the law did worse to me. In 1984, the General of an Army I support, pay for and even serve under passed another law: now I could not call myself a Muslim at all, or even “pose as Muslim”.
You might have noted the affects of that yesterday. As my attackers unleashed their wrath, television networks I watch and love got the location of the bloodshed all wrong. What I call a mosque, they insisted on calling a “place of worship”. That’s alright though. It’s not their fault. I’m used to the special treatment. After all, I am an Ahmadi.
But I wish things were different. I wish I was like you. I wish I was a Sunni, a Shia, a Punjabi, a Pakhtoon, a Baloch, a Sindhi, a Memon, a Gujrati, a Siraiki, a Makrani. If I was any of those, or even anyone else, I would have been called a martyr or “shaheed” in the papers today. My family would have liked that. They would have even written it on my grave, like you do for your loved ones. But all that doesn’t matter. It’s what comes after the grave that really matters. And in my case, I’ve been reassured by you that not much good awaits me there.
But you can’t blame me for wishing. I wish I could give you a hug this Eid. I wish I could say “Asalamalaikum” and “Eid Mubarak” to you as well. I wish I could read to you the history of my people and even have you sample my food. But I can’t. That could cost me three years of prison time.
Finally, I also wish my attackers had chosen another date. For you, yesterday was a day to remember. After all, it was twelve years ago that you unleashed your might upon the world by reducing a mountain to ashes. You had invented the weapon to counter all weapons. You detractors were scared, your enemies terrified. For causing yesterday’s incident to dampen your re-living that moment of pride, I apologize. Please accept my condolences.
But you don’t have to. You’ve got other things to do. Why waste your time with me? After all, I am an Ahmadi.
It is imperative that violence by the terrorists does not provoke an armed retaliation from the affected. The liberals must fight this on intellectual front and refrain from indulging into any activity that might turn ugly because that is what these terrorists actually want.
thank you for your brave, courageous and honest words. May these words spread like rain in a land burning with fire.
Salam, A. Raza.
At some other blog I have already read the text that you have put up here. May I also copy and paste something I have posted elsewhere?
The pain and anguish expressed by our Ahmadi brothers and sisters are deeply touching. However, please remember that the tragic loss of life on Black Friday was not the result of sectarian violence. It was an attack by sub-human creatures who had previously murdered Pakistanis of all religious denominations.
The situation in Pakistan is so warped at the moment that it is difficult to understand what is going on. The horror story that is being acted out on the vast Pakistani stage can be witnessed by all but the hands directing this nightmarish scene are hidden from view. Hence the preponderance of what some people have termed “conspiracy theories”, a most unfortunate term that discourages people from uncovering the ugly truth.
At several blogs run by Pakistan’s self-styled “liberals” this tragedy has been used as a ploy to divert attention away from other issues of great national importance. I have felt sickened by the hypocritical public chest beating of these liberals, some of whom seem to have ulterior motives. What conclusion can you draw when people start suggesting that Pakistanis should focus only on their internal sectarian problems – on this occasion, at least, it is NOT a case of sectarian violence – and stay away from protesting against Israel’s murder of Turkish citizens taking relief supplies to Gaza! [see Syed Talat Hussain's article alongside, where some people are making exactly the same suggestion again]
There is no denying the intensity of the hate and prejudice that exists in Pakistan against Ahmadi Muslims but we should not lose sight of the fact that the killers, the TTP fanatics, had other motives as well. As, indeed, do our “liberals”, “secularists” and “westernised fascists” – scratch one of them and you may be surprised to see a mullah pop up.
The public opinion needs to move against intolerance and bigotry by Mullahs in the name of Islam.
I am glad that people are openly writing such articles.
The solution to our problem’s includes repealing the anti-Ahmadi and blasphemy laws.
Jazakallah! Your article is commendable.
> However, please remember that the
> tragic loss of life on Black Friday
> was not the result of sectarian
> violence. It was an attack by
> sub-human creatures who had previously
> murdered Pakistanis of all religious
@Sakib Ahmad: This could have been true if there were not other issues around this incident starting from continued and unchecked hatred spewed by the media and government sponsored conferences to freedom to Mullahs and some media anchors (don’t forget the audio tape of a famous anchor) to declare Ahmadis wjaibul qatal or worst than infidels. Anti-Ahmadiyya banners were on display on Mall Road Lahore. How could the outcome be different? It was not a matter of if but of when and how much damage.
The police did not arrive until too late and refused to go in until the massacre was done; Rana Niaz, cousin of Rana Sanaullah stood across the ground from Model Town mosque but refused to act despite continued pleading by the people. Some reports in the media have come through blaming some police officials of facilitating perpetrators. One of the captured perpetrated, captured by the people not by police, has confirmed his links with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi a branch of Sipah-e-Sahaba. I don’t need to explain to you how buddy buddy is Punjab’s law or rather lawlessness minister with Sipah-e-Shaba. Theses are only some facts that have come through so far but enough to raise finger of suspicion towards governments, primarily Punjab but also federal.
The universality of issues handled in this article go well beyond Pakistan. My prayer is that this piece will: first of all – be heard and heeded in Pakistan – a nation which due to the history, current dilemmas and many highly-educated leaders – could lead the way in handling sectarian and discrimination better than most nations; and secondly, I hope that this item will be read far and wide as a shining example concerning the unseen ways Pakistanis challenge and police themselves. Many of us on constant news alert can’t help but observe greater freedom in the press from Pakistan than from the USA, we also see many genuine efforts toward peace, non-violence and a genuine democracy and never any stops that direction. We in the West have many more lessons to learn and values to follow in and from this country we’ve expected to manipulate way too long.
I appreciate you on this bold step for the first time in pakistan’s history before that no one dare to write such an article to high light this kind of incident,be a pakistani i was shocked to watch this atrocity or massacar in lahore,
well keep writing.
Thanks. Valid points.
In a way, your comments confirm my position that all kinds of conspiracies are being hatched in Pakistan at the moment and human life is dirt cheap. Certainly, persecution of the Ahmadi community is one very important factor but it is not the only one.
Thank you very much for your support, May Allah be with you , we need humans like you.
In Pakistani society we have lost boldness and courage. I agree with you that the media need to come together against those discrimination laws which are part of our country constitution. Media can play a key role to educate a society. Because media has an important role for motivates and changes to mentalities of people. But sorry to say our Urdu Media not playing a positive role ,just English Print Media is playing a good role and you batter know, here in Pakistan how much percentage of people who are touch with English Media, and mostly people only touched with Urdu Electronic Media and print Media, so Urdu Media must change their Mindset. Anyway, Ms Ayesha Ijaz Khan I like your article because you have written with a great courage and boldness and playing your responsibilities as a fair Journalist. God bless you and your Family
In Pakistani society we have lost boldness and courage. I agree with you that the media need to come together against those discrimination laws which are part of our country constitution. Media can play a key role to educate a society. Because media has an important role for motivates and changes to mentalities of people. But sorry to say our Urdu Media is not playing a positive role ,just English Print Media is playing a good role and you batter know, here in Pakistan how much percentage of people who are in touch with English Media, and mostly people only in touched with Urdu Electronic Media and print Media, so Urdu Media must change their Mindset. Anyway, Ms Ayesha Ijaz Khan I like your article because you have written with a great courage and boldness and playing your responsibilities as a fair Journalist. God bless you and your Family
very Nice thanks for share
Ms. Ayesh Ijaz Khan
Being a Ahmedi Muslim I appreciate your column “Turning outrage into courage”. I will hope that you will write such column in future without any discrimination and prejudice Because like you only people (With Allah Al Mighty`s Grace) who can bring the change through your pen (Kalim) because I have in strong belief/faith that this battle can only be win through pen (Kalim) and this is real Holi War (Jihad) and biggest than sword.
Something I want to convey a massage through you to others that I am a Ahmedi Muslim and I want to be considered a Muslim not minority. I say myself a Muslim and this right was given me by ALLAH ALMIGHTY and his and our Beloved MUHAMMAD-E-ARABI (PBUH) according to Last Shariyah Book QURAN and SUUNAH and from my this right no one can deprive me.
The second thing is that I am a Pakistani and want to be called and treated as Pakistani not Qadyani, Because I born in Pakistan and live here and my all loyalty for my homeland. State should be followed the Qaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah `s August 1948 statement in which founder of Pakistan given equal rights to all Pakistani citizens beyond their religions.
The 3rd thing is that Government will have to facilitate and accommodate all the citizens equally.
Once again I am very thankful to you to that you put this issue in print media and I hope that you will carry on this duty in future to create the Qaid `s Pakistan where every one live peacefully and can do thier religion excrsise freely and happily
A Pakistani and Ahmedi Muslim