Based on divisiveness, the judgment of Justice Shaukat Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) passed on Friday, which have not disappointed many — as the honorable judge could have gone to an extent beyond one’s imagination in ‘service’ to Islam, will undoubtedly cause more vigilante attacks against religious minorities.
The added insecurity this judgment will cause for minorities will not only make them more vulnerable to threats of murder, but also will reinforce their exclusion from political participation, basic services, education and employment.
By making it mandatory for every ‘constitutional’ Muslim to guard and protect the finality of Prophethood, this judgement has left it to the people to interpret how such edicts are to be applied. This will only lead to more victimisation of this country’s already vulnerable religious minorities. It will provide extremist groups with justification to continue twisting religion to justify widespread killing and the destruction of sacred places and public property of Ahmadis.
Incidents of mob justice like those that transpired at Joseph Colony, Shanti Nagar, Kala Gujran, Jandu Sahi and Gujranwala wherein Christians and Ahmadis were targeted for their religious beliefs, will now happen with more frequency. Moreover, the perpetrators under umbrella of this judgement would have justification for their unbridled acts. Any violence they commit will be to ‘guard and protect the finality of Prophethood’.
The judgement has also been passed without the fulfilment of legal prerequisites. A very famous and well known principal of law is that no one can be condemned unheard. That is exactly what happened in this matter. Ahmadis, who are the major affectees of this judgement, were neither made party in the petition nor were issued notice to give their point of view.
The court has also issued a translation of this order in Urdu, which will make it easy for anti-Ahmadi zealots, many of who cannot read English, to understand and ‘implement’ it in their way.
By another direction, the court has directed the Parliament to ensure that all terms specifically used for Islam and Muslims are not used by non-Muslims. Already according to section 298-B and 298-C of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), Ahmadis cannot use descriptions and titles reserved for certain Holy personages or places of Islam, cannot term their place of worship as mosques and cannot term their call for prayer as Azan. It is also punishable for them to propagate their religion. By ‘terms specifically used for Islam and Muslims’, the honourable judge might mean using Ahmed, Muhammad, Ali, Hasan, Hussain, Allah, or Khuda as part of ones names. If so, Ahmadis be forced to not have these Islamic terms in their names.
The order has put an embargo on minority members to be appointed on constitutional posts by declaring it ‘against our organic law and rituals’. It means that no one from religious minorities can become a part of the judiciary, attorney general’s office, advocates generals’ offices and prosecutor generals’ offices. They are already barred from becoming President or Prime Minister.
The court’s biases are evident against minorities in general and Ahmadis in particular, who are already second grade citizens due to different discriminatory constitutional, legal, administrative and personal steps. By showing such attitude towards minorities, the state is compelling them to shun their loyalties and patriotism. So far, I cannot quote a single incident where any member of religious minorities in Pakistan was ever involved in terrorist activities. Ironically, our most murderous countrymen are always ‘constitutional’ Muslims.
The judgement has chosen very strong language, which will be all the more effective at inciting violence — particularly against Ahmadis. This shows clearly how impartial our judges are.
Ahmadis are already completely removed from the democratic process. Due to discriminatory steps taken by the state to exclude them, they cannot contest elections, cast votes or even campaign while sticking to their religious beliefs.
This judgment will not only alienate the Ahmedia community further, it will also facilitate the world in alienating itself from Pakistan, the brunt of which will be felt by every citizen regardless of religion. Issuance of such a judgements, particularly at a time when the US State Department has already re-designated the country as a ‘country of particular concern’ under the International Religious Freedom Act for having engaged in or tolerated egregious violations of religious freedom, is quite capable of having us declared as a terror sponsoring state.
It is the time to struggle for inclusion, acceptance, and peaceful coexistence. In such a situation, it is the prime and foremost duty of the federal government to behave sanely and challenge this decision before the SC and get it struck down right away.