Ahmadis in Pakistan face unfair election

A Pakistani woman walks past posters of a parliamentary election candidate. B.K. Bangash/Associated…) On May 11th, the world’s second most populous … Continued

A Pakistani woman walks past posters of a parliamentary election candidate. B.K. Bangash/Associated…)

On May 11th, the world’s second most populous Muslim country, Pakistan, will mark a historic election. The country’s 66-year history is marred by the presence of martial laws and never before has one elected government replaced another. As Pakistanis rush to the polling stations to cast their vote, over 4 million people will sit home, separated and disenfranchised.
They are the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a peaceful sect within Islam, who are the victims of this “separate but equal” electorate in Pakistan; a system rooted in religious discrimination.

Since the inception of Pakistan in 1947 to up until 1984, all Pakistanis voted on a joint electorate. Then Ahmadis were separated from the mainstream in 1974 when Z. A. Bhutto appeased the clerics by constitutionally declaring them “not Muslims.”  A decade later, Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s military dictator, issued Ordinance XX,  further silencing the Ahmadis who could then be imprisoned for up to three years for simply using Islamic terminology like “Assalamu alaikum” meaning “peace be upon you.”

In 1985, as a step towards pseudo-Islamization of the nation, Zia imposed a separate electorate for all religious minorities, including the Ahmadis, who were required to declare themselves non-Muslims in order to gain the limited right to vote for only the 5 percent minority seats of National Assembly.

Ahmadis saw such a self-declaration as a dissociation with Prophet Muhammad. “That’s too high a price to pay for our fundamental right to vote” – they said and sat out during the next election.

In 2001, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIR) called for an end to anti-Ahmadi discrimination in Pakistan. As the diplomatic pressure mounted, General Pervaiz Musharraf, proposed a joint electorate in January 2002. Millions of Ahmadis – including members of my family – were overjoyed at the prospects of enjoying equal voting rights but then came the religious hardliners, questioning the general’s loyalty to his faith. Musharraf caved into the demands – allowing the Christian, Hindu and other minorities to vote on the joint electorate – but created a supplementary voter list only for the Ahmadis.

In the upcoming May 11th elections, all Pakistani voters are required to check off their religion on Form 2 (Annex IV). Christians, Hindus, and other minorities can simply check their respective box and vote. But Muslim voters are also made to sign a declaration on the reverse side of the form, rejecting the founder of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as a false prophet. Ahmadis are left with only one option: self declare themselves non-Muslims by using the supplemental voting sheet.

That’s a no-go scenario for a community that calls itself the renaissance of Islam.

Ahmadis are fully aware of the facts and the consequences. During the 2008 elections, the victory margin in 88 out of the 272 national constituencies was less than 10,000 votes. The Ahmadi voting bloc could be decisive in such races. By protesting against this “separate but equal” system Ahmadis brace for a further squeeze by politicians who see no electoral incentive in protecting their human rights.

Yet, some do stand up for justice as a moral imperative. In April 2013, 33 members of the  U.S. Congress signed a joint letter to the Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the denial of Ahmadi voting rights in Pakistan. They indicated that if Pakistani Ahmadis are not included in the joint electorate they will not be able to endorse the results of May 11th elections.

Many of those of Pakistani descent who live in the United States maintain their Pakistani citizenship and have the right to vote in May 11th elections as oversees citizens. I call upon their conscience to renounce Pakistan’s “separate but equal” electorate by demanding a new presidential order. Unless that happens, the claims of a fair or historic election is a sham.

Dr. Faheem Younus is the founder of Muslimerican.com. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @FaheemYounus
 

Elizabeth Tenety
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  • Secular1

    My empathies go out to the Ahmadis. But begs the question though as to how many Ahmeadis and their leadership had protested to the unequal treatment meted out to the other minorities since 1947 through 1974 or for that matter through 1985. While it wasn’t their a$$ wasn’t grass Ahmadis along with Shia, Sunni, were quite indifferent to, if not plain hostile to theplight of Hindus, Christians, etc, etc. As far as that goes I have no sympathy for them. Their leadership was also in the forefront of division of India now after 66 years are reap in the rewards.

  • Secular1

    My empathies go out to the Ahmadis. But begs the question though as to how many Ahmeadis and their leadership had protested to the unequal treatment meted out to the other minorities since 1947 through 1974 or for that matter through 1985. While it wasn’t their a$$ wasn’t grass Ahmadis along with Shia, Sunni, were quite indifferent to, if not plain hostile to theplight of Hindus, Christians, etc, etc. As far as that goes I have no sympathy for them. Their leadership was also in the forefront of division of India now after 66 years are reap in the rewards.

  • Muslimsforpeace

    Ahmadis and their leadership are always against all forms of violence, discrimination and coercion be it against anyone. However it must be remembered that in face of any persecution ahmadis always remain peaceful, dont resort to destructive protests, always turn to God with prayers in face of all injustice and discrimination and still pakistani ahmadis remain loyal to their country of residence ie Pakistan. This may be reason that ahmadis dont get heard in an environment where violent protest is a norm.

  • Muslimsforpeace

    Ahmadis and their leadership are always against all forms of violence, discrimination and coercion be it against anyone. However it must be remembered that in face of any persecution ahmadis always remain peaceful, dont resort to destructive protests, always turn to God with prayers in face of all injustice and discrimination and still pakistani ahmadis remain loyal to their country of residence ie Pakistan. This may be reason that ahmadis dont get heard in an environment where violent protest is a norm.

  • Love4Justice

    As you well know, Mormons are free to vote in America. It is unimaginable to me that one group is left out. It also means that the powers -that-be do not need to be concerned about their needs or their issues. It isn’t just disenfranchisement when it comes to voting. It makes the Ahmadi-Muslims invisible.

    It’s a sad state of affairs for a country that endured the grueling difficulties of partition only to become a model Muslim country. They aimed so far and they fell so far short of their goal.

  • Love4Justice

    As you well know, Mormons are free to vote in America. It is unimaginable to me that one group is left out. It also means that the powers -that-be do not need to be concerned about their needs or their issues. It isn’t just disenfranchisement when it comes to voting. It makes the Ahmadi-Muslims invisible.

    It’s a sad state of affairs for a country that endured the grueling difficulties of partition only to become a model Muslim country. They aimed so far and they fell so far short of their goal.

  • KTShamim

    Too bad for Pakistan.

  • KTShamim

    Too bad for Pakistan.

  • Mysay

    Your statement implies that persecution against Ahmadis started in 1974 and peaked in 1985. Ahmadis had been declared kafir by the various mullahs ever since their Founder Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad declared to be the Messiah. The years you mention are when this discrimination was added to the legal framework in Pakistan, and of course peaked since it was State sponsored.

    The second Khalifa Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad aided in the creation of Pakistan seeing the unfair plight of Muslims in India. In fact the Fourth Khalifah Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad recounted that before leaving for Pakistan the Second Khalifah addressed the Ahmadis saying ‘if I tell you what will become of you there, you will never want to go.” So there were no illusions of gaining anything material; in fact, the dangers of falling victim to the religious clerics stood clearly before the eyes of Ahmadi leadership. But at that time it was the right decision for Muslims, and so our Community helped.

    Secondly, our leadership, following the example of our founder, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, has NEVER EVER approved of any act of terror against any faith. Our leadership unequivocally denounces violence in the name of religion against anyone so vocally that I’m surprised you stooped to such a deceptive statement.

    Our founder claimed that ALL established faiths in the world including Hinduism and Buddhism are from God, and thus solidified the grounds for religious tolerance and brotherhood.

    It would have been easier for our leadership to simply fight the case that, ‘don’t hurt us we’re one of you.” Instead, our leadership has always preached that ALL people must be given equal rights of worship, of joining or leaving a faith, of preaching etc.no matter what faith they belong to.

  • Mysay

    Your statement implies that persecution against Ahmadis started in 1974 and peaked in 1985. Ahmadis had been declared kafir by the various mullahs ever since their Founder Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad declared to be the Messiah. The years you mention are when this discrimination was added to the legal framework in Pakistan, and of course peaked since it was State sponsored.

    The second Khalifa Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad aided in the creation of Pakistan seeing the unfair plight of Muslims in India. In fact the Fourth Khalifah Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad recounted that before leaving for Pakistan the Second Khalifah addressed the Ahmadis saying ‘if I tell you what will become of you there, you will never want to go.” So there were no illusions of gaining anything material; in fact, the dangers of falling victim to the religious clerics stood clearly before the eyes of Ahmadi leadership. But at that time it was the right decision for Muslims, and so our Community helped.

    Secondly, our leadership, following the example of our founder, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, has NEVER EVER approved of any act of terror against any faith. Our leadership unequivocally denounces violence in the name of religion against anyone so vocally that I’m surprised you stooped to such a deceptive statement.

    Our founder claimed that ALL established faiths in the world including Hinduism and Buddhism are from God, and thus solidified the grounds for religious tolerance and brotherhood.

    It would have been easier for our leadership to simply fight the case that, ‘don’t hurt us we’re one of you.” Instead, our leadership has always preached that ALL people must be given equal rights of worship, of joining or leaving a faith, of preaching etc.no matter what faith they belong to.

  • SODDI

    What else do you expect from an oppressive religion like islam?

    Similarly here in the U.S., there are 6 states in which atheists are not allowed to hold elected or appointed office – even though that sort of religious litmus test is strictly un-Constitutional. Hint: it wasn’t moslems who made those laws. It was another oppressive religious majority.

  • SODDI

    What else do you expect from an oppressive religion like islam?

    Similarly here in the U.S., there are 6 states in which atheists are not allowed to hold elected or appointed office – even though that sort of religious litmus test is strictly un-Constitutional. Hint: it wasn’t moslems who made those laws. It was another oppressive religious majority.

  • 3vandrum

    “Christians, Hindus, and other minorities can simply check their respective box and vote” and
    Ahmadid are considered non muslims,
    Is this democracy? Pakistan is making democracy a mockery. If fundamentalists get elected, they will exclude women also from voting. Minorities would have disappeared by next election. I cannot undestand
    why these islamic cointries hold elections and continue to pretend that they are democratic. Islam and democracy do not mix.

  • 3vandrum

    “Christians, Hindus, and other minorities can simply check their respective box and vote” and
    Ahmadid are considered non muslims,
    Is this democracy? Pakistan is making democracy a mockery. If fundamentalists get elected, they will exclude women also from voting. Minorities would have disappeared by next election. I cannot undestand
    why these islamic cointries hold elections and continue to pretend that they are democratic. Islam and democracy do not mix.

  • Z.Khan

    A good effort to high light. But what super powers do to eradicate such injustices. Nothing is in pipe line from any country about such anti ahmadiyya acts. Where are the claims of absolute justice and fairness aired by USA and Europe. Proper pressure by all the countries can assure basic human rights for Ahmadies of Pakistan if done sincerely.

  • Z.Khan

    A good effort to high light. But what super powers do to eradicate such injustices. Nothing is in pipe line from any country about such anti ahmadiyya acts. Where are the claims of absolute justice and fairness aired by USA and Europe. Proper pressure by all the countries can assure basic human rights for Ahmadies of Pakistan if done sincerely.

  • Secular1

    To Messers MuslimForPeace and Mysay here is the rebuttal for your, oft heard apologetics.

    “The second Khalifa Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad aided in the creation of Pakistan seeing the unfair plight of Muslims in India. . . . . But at that time it was the right decision for Muslims, and so our Community helped.”

    This is utter nonsense. Did any of your wise illustrous leaders even think beyond teh fact that they will be a BIG FISH IN SMALL POND, rather than small fish in a big pond? If they thought of the so called unfair plight Muslims in India? Did they think of how much more unfair would it be for the muslims left in India? Surely they must have known that not all muslims would make it out of India into Pakistan. What measures did thye take to ensure that every last muslim left India for Pakistan? Answer is ZILCH. And what measures did they put in place to see that teh minority non-muslims were not discriminated in Pakistan? Again the answer is ZILCH. These are the Robber barons that you call as the wise leadership? They criminally callous in not addressing any of these things.

    More importantly coming to the so called plight of muslims in India. What in teh world are you talking about the plight of the muslims in India. For the previous 200 years british were ruling and before that vast majority of teh India was ruled by muslim rulers. Did they consider the plundering of India by the muslim afghan and central asian hordes under Ghazani, Ghori, Timur, Babar? is islam native to India? Islam came to India, under sword and fire. If your fore-bearers were not scared scatless by the above mauraders, to change their faith, you all would be Hindus praying to all the gods and godesses with four hands and multiple heads, or like me who relegated religion the dust heap of history, along with the scripture. You would do a lot better, if you just did that to that utterly stupid, vile al kittab.

  • Secular1

    To Messers MuslimForPeace and Mysay here is the rebuttal for your, oft heard apologetics.

    “The second Khalifa Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad aided in the creation of Pakistan seeing the unfair plight of Muslims in India. . . . . But at that time it was the right decision for Muslims, and so our Community helped.”

    This is utter nonsense. Did any of your wise illustrous leaders even think beyond teh fact that they will be a BIG FISH IN SMALL POND, rather than small fish in a big pond? If they thought of the so called unfair plight Muslims in India? Did they think of how much more unfair would it be for the muslims left in India? Surely they must have known that not all muslims would make it out of India into Pakistan. What measures did thye take to ensure that every last muslim left India for Pakistan? Answer is ZILCH. And what measures did they put in place to see that teh minority non-muslims were not discriminated in Pakistan? Again the answer is ZILCH. These are the Robber barons that you call as the wise leadership? They criminally callous in not addressing any of these things.

    More importantly coming to the so called plight of muslims in India. What in teh world are you talking about the plight of the muslims in India. For the previous 200 years british were ruling and before that vast majority of teh India was ruled by muslim rulers. Did they consider the plundering of India by the muslim afghan and central asian hordes under Ghazani, Ghori, Timur, Babar? is islam native to India? Islam came to India, under sword and fire. If your fore-bearers were not scared scatless by the above mauraders, to change their faith, you all would be Hindus praying to all the gods and godesses with four hands and multiple heads, or like me who relegated religion the dust heap of history, along with the scripture. You would do a lot better, if you just did that to that utterly stupid, vile al kittab.

  • Secular1

    You guys nothing will change in the so called OICs. What they all need is 47 Kemal Ataturks. the one man in the history of Islam who had teh balls of steel to stand up and say that Mohammed was an unmitigated criminal and his book of vileness (AL KITTAB) came out of the west end of an east bound mule (or should I say camel). I certainly think Camel is more appropriate.

  • Secular1

    You guys nothing will change in the so called OICs. What they all need is 47 Kemal Ataturks. the one man in the history of Islam who had teh balls of steel to stand up and say that Mohammed was an unmitigated criminal and his book of vileness (AL KITTAB) came out of the west end of an east bound mule (or should I say camel). I certainly think Camel is more appropriate.

  • benteem

    Prophet Muhammad Salalah Ho Alehay Wa Alayhay Wassalim is the last Prophet and Messanger of Allah. Any one who claims to be a prophet after him is a big liar and a Dajjal. This constitutes that the people who believe in such a prophet has left Islam and cannot be considered Muslims.

    Mirza Ghulam Ahmed is also one of those so called prophets. His followers cannot be considered Muslims. Therefore, they should not claim to be muslim and should participate in elections as non-muslims.

  • benteem

    Prophet Muhammad Salalah Ho Alehay Wa Alayhay Wassalim is the last Prophet and Messanger of Allah. Any one who claims to be a prophet after him is a big liar and a Dajjal. This constitutes that the people who believe in such a prophet has left Islam and cannot be considered Muslims.

    Mirza Ghulam Ahmed is also one of those so called prophets. His followers cannot be considered Muslims. Therefore, they should not claim to be muslim and should participate in elections as non-muslims.

  • KTShamim

    ’tis true … ’tis true … despite the fact that it is them who spread the peaceful message of Islam:
    Indonesia. Largest Muslim country. No Islamic “with sword” conquests ever recorded in history for that country. Go figure:

    [Qur’an 2:257] “There should be no compulsion in religion. Surely, right has become distinct from wrong; … ”

    [Qur’an 18:30] “And say, ‘It is the truth from your Lord; wherefore let him who will, believe, and let him who will, disbelieve.”

    Islam doesn’t need, never needed, never wanted to spread by any force. Islam spreads by winning people’s hearts through the power of love.

    Muslimsforlife(dot)org – successfully collected 10,000 pints of blood to honor 3,000 dead of 9/11 (by saving 30,000 lives.
    Muslimsforpeace(dot)org – condemning terrorism, promoting Islamic value of loyalty to ones nation, peace, bus-ads and flyers and leaflets to promote the same.

  • KTShamim

    ’tis true … ’tis true … despite the fact that it is them who spread the peaceful message of Islam:
    Indonesia. Largest Muslim country. No Islamic “with sword” conquests ever recorded in history for that country. Go figure:

    [Qur’an 2:257] “There should be no compulsion in religion. Surely, right has become distinct from wrong; … ”

    [Qur’an 18:30] “And say, ‘It is the truth from your Lord; wherefore let him who will, believe, and let him who will, disbelieve.”

    Islam doesn’t need, never needed, never wanted to spread by any force. Islam spreads by winning people’s hearts through the power of love.

    Muslimsforlife(dot)org – successfully collected 10,000 pints of blood to honor 3,000 dead of 9/11 (by saving 30,000 lives.
    Muslimsforpeace(dot)org – condemning terrorism, promoting Islamic value of loyalty to ones nation, peace, bus-ads and flyers and leaflets to promote the same.

  • verris

    It is completely unfair to make Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus declare that they are not Muslims in order to vote because it seems like they are second-class citizens. In a so-called “democracy”, religion shouldn’t matter. All citizens should have equal rights and fair treatment, but Pakistan’s rulers are not worried about ideals or morals; they want to maintain their powerful positions, rather than use the influence that they have to do good. Ahmadis strongly believe that no matter what a person’s religion or race is, they should be treated with kindness and respect. The major difference between Ahmadis and other Muslims is that Ahmadis believe that Muhammad was the last Law-bearing prophet, but not necessarily the last one because whenever people stray far from the true path, God sends a reformer to guide them back to it. The amount of violence and humiliation Ahmadis suffer because of this belief is unjustifiable.

  • verris

    It is completely unfair to make Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus declare that they are not Muslims in order to vote because it seems like they are second-class citizens. In a so-called “democracy”, religion shouldn’t matter. All citizens should have equal rights and fair treatment, but Pakistan’s rulers are not worried about ideals or morals; they want to maintain their powerful positions, rather than use the influence that they have to do good. Ahmadis strongly believe that no matter what a person’s religion or race is, they should be treated with kindness and respect. The major difference between Ahmadis and other Muslims is that Ahmadis believe that Muhammad was the last Law-bearing prophet, but not necessarily the last one because whenever people stray far from the true path, God sends a reformer to guide them back to it. The amount of violence and humiliation Ahmadis suffer because of this belief is unjustifiable.

  • Fazel Subian

    Understand the purpose of a religion
    ‘TRUE ESSENCE OF RELIGIONS’ To unite all
    http://www.fazelsubian.com

  • Fazel Subian

    Understand the purpose of a religion
    ‘TRUE ESSENCE OF RELIGIONS’ To unite all
    http://www.fazelsubian.com

  • Wisemind

    Ahmadiz have firm faith in God and His help. They are not waiting or expecting from any human being or party to come for their help. In Pakistan no one dare to write or speak in Ahmadi`s favor if some one do so then that person will be assassin. All the parties and sects in Pakistan,Bangladesh and Indonesia have united against this one peaceful sect( Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaàt).

  • Wisemind

    Ahmadiz have firm faith in God and His help. They are not waiting or expecting from any human being or party to come for their help. In Pakistan no one dare to write or speak in Ahmadi`s favor if some one do so then that person will be assassin. All the parties and sects in Pakistan,Bangladesh and Indonesia have united against this one peaceful sect( Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaàt).

  • Iram S.

    Like mainstream Islamic sects Ahmadis also believe that the Prophet Muhammad was the last law bearing Prophet. The only difference, Ahmadis are also followers of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah who was foretold by Prophet Muhammad himself. Whoever believes in Prophet Muhammad is to be considered a Muslim and governments cannot define what is in a person’s heart. Therefore, Ahmadis should be given all the rights similar to the ones given to mainstream Muslims in Pakistan, but this is not the case. Prosecuting Ahmadi Muslims or stopping them from Islamic traditions, events like these are not new to Pakistan. Just a few weeks ago on Eid-ul-Adha, Ahmadis were banned from sacrificing animals in Pakistan and are continuously being harrased, detained and banned from practicing their faith under the Islamic law of Pakistan. Under Pakistani law, the Ahmadis cannot refer to themselves as Muslims or engage in any Muslim practices, including using Islamic greetings, referring to their places of worship as Mosques, or participating in the Hajj, or holy pilgrimage. Ahmadis risk imprisonment for up to three years and a fine if they break any of these rules

  • Iram S.

    Like mainstream Islamic sects Ahmadis also believe that the Prophet Muhammad was the last law bearing Prophet. The only difference, Ahmadis are also followers of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah who was foretold by Prophet Muhammad himself. Whoever believes in Prophet Muhammad is to be considered a Muslim and governments cannot define what is in a person’s heart. Therefore, Ahmadis should be given all the rights similar to the ones given to mainstream Muslims in Pakistan, but this is not the case. Prosecuting Ahmadi Muslims or stopping them from Islamic traditions, events like these are not new to Pakistan. Just a few weeks ago on Eid-ul-Adha, Ahmadis were banned from sacrificing animals in Pakistan and are continuously being harrased, detained and banned from practicing their faith under the Islamic law of Pakistan. Under Pakistani law, the Ahmadis cannot refer to themselves as Muslims or engage in any Muslim practices, including using Islamic greetings, referring to their places of worship as Mosques, or participating in the Hajj, or holy pilgrimage. Ahmadis risk imprisonment for up to three years and a fine if they break any of these rules