The Punjab Assembly on Tuesday took up the issue of the Khatam-e-Nabuwat clause in the Election Reform Bill 2017. The previous debate ended up in a huge controversy as religious parties jumped right in to steal the show. It also provided space to bigoted politicians to indulge in hate-speech against an already persecuted minority of the country. Keeping in mind that it had already been established that the change in wording was a clerical error, not propaganda of any party, we can see that the Punjab Assembly was a repeat of its national counterpart – only more widespread.

The debate in the Punjab Assembly again revolved around leaders professing extremist views and opening up the Ahmaddi issue all over again. Religious cleric and treasury member, Maulana Ilyas Chinioti, asked his party to catch the culprits behind the move to change the wording and start an investigation to resolve the matter. He openly said that the parliamentarians involved in this process should be punished. Member of Jamaat e Islaami, Dr Waseem, also joined in line with Maulana Ilyas and urged the government to take action in the case. Realising the pressure building up, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah also changed his views to condemn Ahmaddis.

It is a complete and utter shame that despite the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and even the military itself condemning the bigoted statements; leaders of various political parties continue to profess such discriminatory views. This is especially problematic for Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), whose top two leaders have urged tolerance and peace, but are being ignored. This reflects on the hold (or lack thereof) that party leaders exercise on its member on ideological issues. It also show that the bulk of the PML-N leans right hard when they are trying to appease the extremist narrative builders.

If these people have the space to express their views with such vigour, the government must also do everything in their capacity to condemn them. This is a blatant violation of the laws under the National Action Plan (NAP). Wherever such conversations arise, they must be snubbed. Especially in Punjab, as violence against Ahmedis is endemic to the province. Hence, Punjab must be more responsible than all other political actors involved in the game.

The silence of senior Punjabi leaders, ministers and especially the Chef Minister in condemning this tirade in the assembly has not gone unnoticed.