Let me start with a profound apology for covering, what many might deem an “unimportant” issue this week. With all my sympathies with the innocent children and civilians being killed on the pretext of targeting terrorists, I for one, could not help thinking about a ‘minor’ incident that happened in Gujranwala. Guilty as charged.

As per the details reported by this newspaper on July 28, a 55 year old woman called Bashiran, a minor girl called Kianat, and a seven year old girl called Hira as well as an unborn child, died due to suffocation when an angry mob attacked and burnt five houses belonging to members of the Ahmadiya community over alleged blasphemy. Protecting Islam from potential profanity and blasphemy is, as you know, the first and foremost duty of the believers. By killing those four ‘kaafirs,’ the members of the Ummah successfully saved Islam, (just as the same people viciously deride their Ummah being killed in Palestine by Yahoodi missiles).

In May 2010, ninety four people were killed in Lahore and more than 120 injured according to official reports when two Ahmadi mosques… oh sorry... Ahmadi “worship places,” were attacked and a hostage situation lasted for several hours. What transpired between hostages, their assailants and the law enforcing agencies, is not known. All we know is that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and Punjabi Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, even though on July 10 of the same year, Al-Jazeera reported that the Punjab Police had arrested the alleged suspects of the Lahore Massacre who belonged to Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami, a banned outfit.

Ever since it came into being in the last quarter of the 19th century, the Ahmadiyas invited a tense relationship with the rest of the Muslims in undivided India. Nevertheless, they were still considered a sect of Islam. In the general elections of 1946, the Ahmadiya community voted as Muslims and contributed to the creation of Pakistan.

After Pakistan came into being, the Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah (he would have liked to be addressed as Mr. Jinnah, that’s how I’d prefer to call him), appointed Sir Chaudhry Zafarullah Khan as the first Foreign Minister of the newly born country. Besides being a prominent Ahmadi scholar, Sir Khan was a statesman, a diplomat and an international jurist par excellence. Ironically, there is almost a consensus amongst the historians that Sir Khan was the drafter of the Lahore Resolution in 1940, which later came to be known as the Pakistan Resolution, as it is thought to be the basis of the demand for Pakistan – the country where Ahmadis are being persecuted and killed for their faith.

Not that there was no anxiety amongst the ‘pious’ of the time on this appointment, but it certainly did not occur to anyone at the time to kill Sir Zafarullah Khan or burn his house. After Mr. Jinnah left the mortal world, right wing elements led by the Ahrar and Jama’at-e-Islami (both against the creation of Pakistan and Mr. Jinnah, lest we forget) whipped up people’s religious emotions against Ahmadis.

Having triumphed in 1949 after getting the Objectives Resolution passed, Jama’at-e-Islami and Ahrar had managed to penetrate quite deep into the ruling Muslim League by 1951-52. This was the time when League leaders including then Chief Minister of Punjab, Mumtaz Daultana were completely under the trance of anti-Ahmadiya rhetoric. Daultana, rather, had become the mouthpiece for anti-Ahmadiya sentiment in Punjab. By 1953, anti-Ahmadiya riots had erupted killing scores of Ahmadis alongside destruction of their properties.

The riots were accompanied by inflammatory articles in newspapers as well as street protests and political rallies against Ahmadis. There were severe agitations against the Ahmadis, which led to 200 officially reported Ahmadi deaths followed by the promulgation of the country’s first martial law by then Governor General Ghulam Muhammad. The Martial Law government sentenced Maulana Abul’Ala Maudoodi and Maulana Abdul Sattar Niazi to death in 1953, but the death sentence was changed into life sentence in three days due to ‘political reasons’.

A Commission of Inquiry was established soon after the riots in order to dig the causes for and to determine the responsibility of the riots under the chairpersonship of Justice M. Munir with Justice M. R. Kiani as its member. The Commission issued its report in 1954, known as the Munir Commission Report. Such a revealing read this report gives, that it should be made compulsory reading material in all curricula. How tragic that none of our institutions and politicians could ever learn a lesson from it.

The story of Ahmadiya persecution continued with near impunity to perpetrators or instigators and with the same negligence and complicity of state institutions of which the Munir Commission Report warned us decades ago. In 1974, Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam and Jama’at-e-Islami once again led a violent campaign against Ahmadis on the pretext of a concocted clash between Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis in Rabwah.

Like in 1953, the 1974 agitation was politically used to declare Ahmadis non-Muslims. In 1953, the Ahrar-Jama’at three demands were: declare Ahmadis a non-Muslim minority; remove Sir Zafarullah Khan from the Cabinet; remove all Ahmadi officials from public offices. Then Prime Minister Khawaja Nazimuddin had rejected all the demands, but had to get deposed from premiership just a month later. But in 1974, probably taking a cue from Nazimuddin’s end, then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto succumbed to the demand and laid the foundation of a state with a confused and distorted theocratic character.

Building on this foundation, Zia-ul-Haq, the most vicious, wicked and vile military dictator that Pakistan ever had, created the state edifice based on hatred, religious extremism, puritanism and hypocrisy. Bhutto’s Second Amendment was further extended into the anti-Ahmadiya Ordinance XX promulgated by Zia. The Ordinance severely restricted Ahmadis’ freedom of religion, and prescribed imprisonment and a fine for its violation. To add fuel to the fire, Sections 295 A, B & C and 298-B & C added to the Penal Code, which criminalized the offence of blasphemy without defining it.

These were but instruments for putting the verbal demands of 1953 and 1974, into punitive action. The pious of the Ummah however, do not normally wait for the course of law to take its shape. Just a whisper accusing someone of blasphemy could result into Joseph Colony, Francis Colony, Gojra or Gujranwala. You can, in fraction of seconds, turn into Aasiya Bibi or Rimsha Masih or worse, Shahbaz Bhatti or Salmaan Taseer.

Apart from blasphemy allegations, being born in an Ahmadi household is a biggest crime. My advice to everyone who intends to be born, don’t do it in an Ahmadi mother’s womb. Surely, you can decide where you take birth, right?

For those who have already taken birth, don’t try to celebrate Eid, don’t call your worship ‘namaz,’ don’t call your place of worship a ‘mosque,’ don’t greet each other with a warm ‘Assalam o Alaikum,’ don’t keep the Quran at your home or worse, recite it. All of it is a criminal offence in this land of the pure.

For the pregnant woman who died in Gujranwala, we are busy protesting the killings in Gaza. Our political parties are worried about the supposedly rigged elections and our police is busy finding ways to stop a long arm march…. oh slip of the tongue... long march I meant. So my dear, we as a nation and as a state, are too busy to nab your killers, or even to talk about you. You dear Pakistani Ahmadis, are on your own.

 The writer is an Islamabad based freelance columnist.