Geneva: The Pakistan government has given a free hand to the ‘mullahs’ (Muslim clergymen) who closely collaborate with terrorist groups and create problems worldwide, like the recent terror attack in Pulwama, leaders of the country’s persecuted Ahmadiyya community said here on Saturday.
The leaders of the Ahmadiyya community, a minority sect of Muslims, also highlighted how in Pakistan they are being denied even the basic rights like practising their religion and voting besides being targeted with false cases of blasphemy.
During an event held here on the sidelines of a conference of the UN Human Rights Session (UNHRC), the community leaders sought to draw the international focus on Pakistan-bred terrorism besides demanding an amendment to the draconian laws targeting them in Pakistan.
“The Government of Pakistan has given a free hand to ‘mullahs’ and they hold the writ of the government,” said Iftikhar Ayaz, an Ahmadiyya leader and chairman of London-based International Human Rights Committee.
“They (mullahs) have relations with terrorist organizations and jihadis. The mullahs and terrorists are collaborators which is an open secret. This has created a major problem for world peace, safety and security,” he said.
To press his point, he gave the example of the ghastly terror attack in Pulwama on February 14 in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed and said the world should be worried about it.
Ayaz said it’s not that only Ahmadiyyas are facing persecution but the “mullahs and terrorists” collaborate to kill and harass others as well.
Another leader of the community Fareed Ahmad said the members of the sect were even denied the right to vote in the recent elections in Pakistan.
He explained that it was because in order to cast a vote, “we have to state if we are non-Muslim or non-Ahmadi and neither of these choices is something we can sign up to.”
Ahmad, who is the Secretary for External Affairs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the UK, went on to add,
“These are everyday issues in Pakistan. The whole community lives in fear… The persecution is all pervasive.”
He said false charges of blasphemy are also imposed on the community members “for holding copies of the Holy Quran” or offering Islamic greetings. We face all these difficulties on a daily basis. There needs to be some action because these are issues that don’t just affect us but affect the whole of Pakistan.”
In 1974, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Bhutto had amended the Constitution to declare Ahmadiyyas as non-Muslims.
Subsequently, in 1994, General Zia-ul-Haq amended the penal code to introduce the ‘Ordinance XX’, making it a criminal offence for Ahmadis to call themselves Muslims or practice their Islamic faith.
“We want Pakistan to prosper, we want it to succeed, we are loyal citizens of Pakistan and are always working for the progress of the country, but this means getting rid of extremism which is embedded by the federal laws of the country,” Fareed Ahmad said.
He hoped that the Pakistan government would recognize the problem on its own and address it “because, otherwise, the social fabric of Pakistan is, unfortunately, getting worse by the day.”
Ayaz, while flagging concerns over misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan against members of the Ahmadiyya community, said these legal provisions are mainly aimed at targeting the community.
“There are other religious communities too, but the blasphemy laws were made to primarily punish the Ahmadiyyas. By facing such threats, the Ahmadiyyas are facing immense problems. You can’t worship and can’t even keep the Quran at home. You can’t even offer Islamic greetings. How can you live in such a country? Ahmadiyyas are also facing problems in schools, colleges and at workplaces,” he added.
“In Pakistan, the Christians and Hindus are facing the same problem as we Ahmadiyyas are facing. The terrorists.
are creating problems for the entire world. Pakistan can easily repeal laws against the minorities, but it is not doing so because of the fear of extremist forces,” the Ahmadiyya leader said.