There are many things wrong with the Elections Reform Bill of 2017, some of them being Clause 203, which is an amendment tailor-made for a specific person. Amid many valid criticisms of the Bill, the religious parties of Pakistan however have decided to take the conversation into the most futile direction and have made issue over a clerical error in the bill.

The area of concern was that the wording for the clause had been changed. In the new form-A, the words “I solemnly swear” had been replaced with “I believe” in the section on Khatam-e-Nubewat. Following the negative reaction that the government and parliament faced after the passage of this bill, Speaker of the National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq has stated that it was due to a ‘clerical error’ and that the wordings regarding the finality of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) will be reversed.

Not only is the cause for outrage of religious parties trivial and bigoted, it is also false since there is no difference in meaning between “swear” and “believe”, rendering their fear of an anti-Islam conspiracy completely unfounded. In a politically tense environment, where Pakistan will have to make some very important legal decisions next year, these religious parties should be shamed and condemned for publicizing a non-issue. These are privileged politicians who would knowingly risk violence against the Ahmedi community (who always suffer after such an issue) over fake news just to gain some traction and attention in the political sphere for their parties. At least we can be thankful Opposition leaders like Imran Khan and Asif Ali Zardari haven’t lend credence to this nonsense by putting their weight behind it.

This protest by them is a continuation of several signs that religious parties are becoming very active. Encouraged by their unexpected support in the NA-120 elections, religious parties have become more courageous and participating in politics, with a meeting of six religious parties’ leaders anticipated on October 12th and now this frivolous protest meant to gain publicity in the media. Their motives right now are unclear but their activeness is an alarming sign that the public should notice.

Leaders of religious parties have already started using a clerical error to defame and otherize the Ahmedi community. The government should just fix it to put an end to this unnecessary and futile protest, aimed just to create religious conflict.