ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court on Friday declared that a faith affidavit must be submitted by individuals to apply for all government jobs including the judiciary, armed forces, the civil service and semi-government institutions.

IHC judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui announced the verdict on a petition moved by Maulana Allah Wasya, challenging the amendment to the oath of Khatm-e-Nabuwwat (PBUH) in Election Act 2017.

The court also declared that an affidavit would also be required in order to get a computerised national identity card, passport, birth certificate and for entry in the voters list.

Justice Siddiqui directed the parliament to make necessary legislation and also introduce requisite amendments to the existing laws to ensure that all the terms specifically used for Islam and Muslims were not used by persons belonging to any minority faith for hiding their real identity or for any other purpose.

The judge noted in his judgment: “The matter of absolute and unqualified finality of Prophethood of Muhammad (Peace be upon him) the last of the prophets is the nucleus of our religion.”

The IHC bench said that “nobody should be permitted to conceal his/her real religious faith and for getting CNIC, passport, birth certificate, entry in voters list, appointment in judiciary, armed forces and civil service, an affidavit must be sworn by the applicant based on definition of Muslim and non-Muslim provided by Article 260(3)(a)(b) of the Constitution. Appointment of a non-Muslim on constitutional posts is against our organic law”.

He directed the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) to fix a time duration for any citizen who intends to make correction or change in the already given particulars, especially about the religion.

The IHC bench declared it mandatory for all educational institutions to engage Muslim teachers for teaching Islamiat as a subject. The court directed the government “to take special measures ensuring availability of correct particulars of all the citizens so that it should not be possible for any citizen to hide his/her real identity and recognition”.

It said that “the government shall also take immediate steps to conduct an inquiry concerning alarming and visible difference in the population record of Ahmadis available with the NADRA and the figures collected through the recent census”.

The data of 1998 census revealed that the population of Ahmadis was 286,212 while the data provided by the NADRA showed that just over 167,000 Ahmadis were registered in Pakistan and 10,205 have changed their religious status from Muslim to Ahmedis.

The IHC verdict said: “It is binding on the state to take care of the rights, feelings and religious beliefs of the Muslim Ummah and to also ensure the protection of rights of minorities in the light of teachings of Islam being the religion declared by the Constitution of the country”.

Justice Siddiqui noted in the judgment that “soon after the emergence of legal default in the Election Act 2017, the parliament by its collective wisdom and understanding displayed complete sensitivity towards the matter of Khatm-e-Nabuwat and brought it in conformity with the requirements. These matters demand such sensitivity and unity”.

The bench lauded Senator Raja Zafarul Haq’s report about the Khatm-e-Nabuwat controversy. It said: “Senator Raja Zafarul Haq is well known for his legal acumen as a lawyer and an experienced legislator … with his honesty and wisdom he handled all the points very comprehensively, which annulled all the negative impressions”.

“It is mandatory for every Muslim to guard and protect this nucleus,” he said and added that “other than the protection of the basic belief of Khatm-e-Nabuwat, the parliament being the guardian of the religious core should also take the measure which can completely terminate those who scar this belief”.

Justice Siddiqui said that non-Muslims do not qualify to be elected on certain constitutional offices. For most of the institutions including parliament, he explained, there are reserved seats for minorities.

“When any member of the minority group conceals his/her religion and belief through fraudulent means … it is actually an open defiance to the words and spirit of the Constitution,” noted the judgment. “To prevent this disobedience, the state needs to take immediate measures,” said the verdict.

The judge observed in the verdict that “minorities residing in Pakistan hold a separate identification in reference to their names and identity but according to the Constitution, one of the minorities do not hold a distinct identification due to their names’ general attire which leads to crises”.

 “Due to their names they can easily mask their belief and become part of Muslim majority,” he said adding: “[and] they can gain access to dignified and sensitive posts resulting in accumulation of all benefits”.

He said that “it is mandatory for every citizen to get their identity with authentic particulars and no Muslim is permissible to disguise his/her identity as non-Muslim and no non-Muslim has the right to appear as a Muslim”.

 “Any citizen who does so will betray the state resulting in exploiting the Constitution,” Justice Siddiqui observed.

The bench said that “Islam and the Constitution provide complete religious freedom and basic rights to minorities (non-Muslims) and it is the duty of the state to protect their life, wealth, property, dignity and assets as citizens of Pakistan”.

“It is the basic duty of every citizen to be faithful to the state and abide by the rules of law and the Constitution,” he said.

Seven religious scholars rendered their assistance in the matter as amicus curiae (friends of the court) including Prof Dr Hafiz Hassan Madni of University of Punjab, Dr Mohsin Naqvi, ex-member of the Council of Islamic Ideology, Prof Dr Sahibzada Sajidur Rehman, a member of the CII, Mufti Muhammad Hussain Khalil Khel from Karachi, Akram Sheikh, Dr Aslam Khaki and Babar Awan advocates.

Almost, all the scholars had contended that concealing one’s real faith was a “crime, cheat and a fraud with the state”.

 

 

IHC declares faith affidavit compulsory