Dear Pakistan,

I have lots of love for you. You raised my parents, taught them what it meant to work hard and provided them with shelter. You didn’t however, provide them with religious freedom. And that’s why we left.

The Ahmadi story of persecution in your country has a rich history. In 1974 you introduced the second amendment in the Pakistani Constitution and declared Ahmadis as non-Muslims, denying us our basic and fundamental rights as human beings. In 1984, your President and dictator Zia-ul-Haq added Ordinance XX to the Constitution, making it a crime for Ahmadis to profess their faith. Since then, Ahmadis have been subject to state-sponsored hate, violence and gruesome persecution.

This persecution has personally affected me and continues to cause me great pain, grief and sorrow. I’d like to fall in love with Pakistan again, but something holds me back. It seems to be fear of continuing to lose those that I love most.

And so, I have to ask, O Pakistan, when will you stop?

On July 27, 2008, you murdered one of my good friend’s father in front of his very eyes. My friend was 14 visiting Pakistan with his family. He was hopeless, shocked and scarred forever.

On May 28, 2010, you killed my good friend’s father and brother. He thought his brother was alive, but as he was painfully lifting covers off dead bodies at hospitals, hoping his brother wasn’t next, he saw his face and broke down. There lay his brother as one of the 94 Ahmadis martyred on May 28 for their faith.

On May 4, 2014, I attended the burial of my friend’s uncle, Dr. Mehdi Ali Qamar, who visited Pakistan to selflessly serve the less fortunate as a practitioner. What crime did he commit by going back to his country to help the less fortunate?

On June 21, 2016, you killed a homeopathic doctor in your country, serving your people.

O Pakistan, when will you stop?

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that this persecution has not only resulted in brutal and unjust behavior towards Ahmadis, but has resulted in your limited growth as a country.

You failed to recognize a Pakistani jurist and diplomat who served as 1st Foreign Minister of Pakistan and was the first Muslim, Asian and the only Pakistani to preside over the UN General Assembly and the International Court of Justice – Sir Chaudhry Zafrullah Khan. He was an Ahmadi, but he was also a Pakistani. He was a source of motivation for youth aspiring to make a positive change in our world today, but you tried to suppress his achievement.

You failed to recognize the first Muslim Nobel Laureate that your country produced, Dr. Abdus Salam. He was ignored for 30 years while you questioned your baseless morals and had no answer to: “Can we recognize an Ahmadi Pakistani Nobel Laureate?”

Finally, 37 years later Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved a plan to rename the Quaid-e-Azam University’s Physics Department to the Dr Abdus Salam Centre for Physics.

Even this victory was bittersweet. While you now recognize Dr. Abdus Salam as a scientist, when will you recognize him as a Muslim? On the same day of this achievement, the headquarters of the Ahmadiyya community were attacked in Rabwah, Pakistan.

This past week on December 5, police authorities forcefully broke into the headquarters of the Ahmadiyya community without any warrants or justification. The contingent of roughly 28 armed and masked unidentified police officers then assaulted the Ahmadi employees. Two Ahmadi Imams and an administrative staffer from the publisher’s office were arrested and taken into custody without charges.

The irony of this attack was that it was done under the guise of terrorism charges, when Ahmadis are known throughout the world as the most peaceful and law abiding citizens. Had we even remotely endorsed terrorism, at the very least we would’ve fought back against the police. But we didn’t.

And again, today you crossed the line. Thousands of your citizens attacked our 'place of worship' in Chakwal, ironically claiming to be lovers of Prophet Muhammad. Was this what the Prophet taught?

And yet again, it is we who will respond with patience and steadfastness. We are responding with love, not hate. For our community to progress and become the predominant voice of Islam in the world, we will make all sorts of sacrifices, and we’re ready.

In the wise words of Mirza Tahir Ahmad,

“Swords can win territories, but not hearts. Force can bend heads, but not minds.”

Your persecution has backfired. We may be hated by the Government in Pakistan, but we are loved across the world.