As always chaos ensued on social media yesterday.

Not when the former Prime Minister of Pakistan Raja Pervez Ashraf said "PPP broke the neck of Ahmadis." 

For that there were a lot of loud claps, thumps at the back, laughter and roars from the on looking crowd with unabashed glee ‘look, we got those Ahmadis good, didn’t we!”

The uproar came when Pakistan’s People Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto took a stand and said “Politicians have no right to comment or question people’s faith. History has taught us politicization of faith has lethal consequences for all.”

That’s when the fight(s) started.

Some pointed out that he did not mention Ahmadis by name, or the fact that he did not mention the ex-PM’s name either or take any action against him. There were also reminders that it had been his own grandfather who had constitutionally deemed Ahmadis as non-Muslims. (Mind you, most of these comments came from non-Ahmadis themselves and people who had been asleep most of their lives regarding the persecution.)

Going back then; it had been the Second Amendment in 1974 which became part of the Constitution of Pakistan that declared that Ahmadis were not Muslims.

While Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto clearly laid the foundation, it is not until Ziaul Haq came into power bringing along with him Ordinance XX in 1984 which started the actual persecution of the Ahmadis, and that too out in the open.

Ordinance XX stated that Ahmadis would no longer be allowed to:

  • practice their faith,
  • use an Islamic texts for praying purposes,
  • use the greeting As salamalaykum (Peace be upon you),
  • recite the 6 kalimas,
  • build mosques,
  • call the Adhan,
  • go to mosques,
  • make any citations from the Quran or Hadith.

Clearly Ziaul Haq was bored and had nothing else to do the afternoon when he penned down these new laws so as to hurt and put down 5 million Pakistanis in one go.

Any Ahmadi who simply called himself a Muslim from that day on could be jailed for 3 years.

Basically, the Ordinance and 1974 amendment together played God by deciding who could be called a Muslim and who could not.

As expected, based on the hate filled Ordinance, the persecution took an ugly and sadistic turn.

So much so that masses went into exile. Children in Pakistan grew up not even knowing who Abdus Salam (Nobel Prize in physics) was just simply because he was an Ahmadi. Ironically he was one of the top ranking science advisers to the government from 1960 to 1974. (Till the amendment, after which he left the country in protest.)

Which brings us back to the now. People can say that Bilawal Bhutto is just saying things to please the liberals and it is just a tweet which his true (and not as educated) followers will never see, or the more crude version that it is all BS, or they can dissect it questioning why he did not say Ahmadi specifically, etc.

But the simple yet strong words he has spoken clearly denote that his stance is different from what the constitution states and perhaps even his own grandfather.  It is an obvious reply to what the former PM had stated. While no action has been taken against him, or even an apology received, Bilawal has certainly made it clear that he does not agree with the persecution and what Raja Pervez said.

If memory serves me right, he was also vocal against terrorists and clearly declared them as enemies of the state. He has also always been inclined to raise the status of women and promote equality. Or as an individual sadly commented “he must be a feminist.”

 

No, I am not a supporter of PPP but this does not mean that I will criticize Bilawal for the sake of it. I am not talking about the previous governments, his mother or his father, I am just talking about him.

Things are never solved in one go; it takes steps, sometimes even tiny minute baby steps. And this is definitely a very positive one in the right direction. No other politician or person in a powerful position has ever said anything even remotely close to what he has regarding the status of Ahmadis in Pakistan and it must be applauded and encouraged.

I imagine that there will no more hate filled and/or violence enticing speeches from anyone in PPP regarding any of our minorities after this. Isn’t that a big thing considering anyone anywhere says whatever they want about Ahmadis and gets congratulatory hugs as a result?

I do hope that Bilawal Bhutto proves his many criticizers wrong by having an apology issued.

As for the people who are on team ‘Persecute Ahmadis’

The founder of Pakistan,Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his first Presidential Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in 1947 said:

“You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”

This should tell you of what Pakistan stood for when it was created.

As for Bilawal Bhutto , empty words or not, time will tell.