Anti Minorities Campaign in Punjab -by Junaid Qaiser

On May 28, 2010 Taliban extremists killed at least 93 members of the Ahmadi religious sect and injured around 100 others in attacks on two Ahmadi’s mosques during Friday prayer services in Lahore.

According to local police, more than 10 terrorists attacked the Ahmadis, who Muslims consider heretics. Despite their claim to Islam, Ahmadis have been subjected to perennial persecution from fellow Muslims, especially since the passing of a Pakistani constitutional amendment that passed in 1974. Moreover, the late dictator General

Zia-ul-Haq introduced many anti-Ahmadi laws in 1980’s, bringing further persecution upon the Ahmadi minority.

Although members of Non Muslim community and their places of worship have been attacked by fanatical Muslims on an almost regular basis in Pakistan, this was the bloodiest incident in recent memory. After this recent attack on Ahmadi community, other religious minorities, especially Christians of Punjab, are worried for their safety. The situation on the ground is very uncertain for non-Muslims since sectors of the media appear free to propagate hatred against  non-Muslims. Meanwhile, the provincial government of Punjab is still maintaining close relations with militant groups and the judiciary is releasing militants.

Church leaders in Lahore also became alarmed after anti-Christian banners sprang up along several roads apparently in reaction to the facebook competition. The banners placed by Khatm-e-Nabuwat Conference, an international Islamic organization, the Khatm-e-Nabuwat Conference constitutes people from banned militant organizations and has been involved in several Church attacks in the past, banner said “Jews, Christians and Marzai [Ahmadis] are enemies of Islam.”

One of the anti-Christian banners is displayed close to the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore. Due to recent Lahore attacks and anti minorities banner campaign in Punjab non Muslim community is very much scared. “We pray to the Lord to protect us as we are helpless otherwise. We condemn Facebook for holding the competition and hope that the banners are taken down quickly”, said Archbishop Lawrence J. Saldanha of Lahore.

It’s reported that over 50 Pakistani Hindus have converted to Islam in the Sialkot district of Punjab within a week (between May 14 and May 19  ) under pressure from their Muslim employers in a bid to retain their jobs and survive in the Muslim-dominated society.(see full detail)

Sadly Punjab government still in state of denial mode and it is this kind of muddled environment that suits extremist criminal cartels and terror networks to further enhance their agenda. Recently, the chief minister of Punjab – Mian Shahbaz Sharif   publicly requested the Taliban to desist from attacks in Punjab, claiming to espouse the same ideology and same background. In the month of March, Punjab’s Muddle headed Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah participated in a public rally with the leaders of another banned terrorist organization in Jhang City; many terrorists came from that city to attack Christians in Gojra last year. Punjab’s CM Shahbaz Sharif and Co plus Punjabi main stream right wing media dominated by many  televangelist anchors and analysts, have still not gotten it. Therefore observers suggesting that, PML-N and Punjab still in state of denial even after Lahore carnage and Punjabi groups are deepening their ties with the Taliban, representing a growing threat for a country already hit hard by militant violence.

Analysts and officials said Punjab’s extreme poverty, as well as lack of education, makes people in the region more vulnerable to the lure of militancy. The militants in Punjab had a good infrastructure on the ground, with many organizations involved in various feuds, including sectarian violence. These militants are overwhelmingly members of banned organizations like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Sipah-e-Sahaba, long tolerated or even sponsored by Pakistan’s powerful security and intelligence establishment.

“Those militants who were hiding in southern Punjab are now surfacing,” Interior Minister Rehman Maliksaid on Sunday in Lahore as he visited one of the attacked worship place. “We have information they could attack the Shia community.” There are more than 20,000 madrassas, or schools, in Pakistan, he said, and 44 percent are in Punjab. The government has also banned 29 organizations and put 1,764 people on its wanted lists. Of them, 729 are from southern Punjab.

In addition to media onslaught devoid of any ‘code of conduct’, the scope of violent behavior has widened manifold with drastically serious repercussions. Ironically, it is a common practice of the popular Urdu right wing media  and it’s televangelist anchors and analysts to agitate against minorities. Last year, Geo’s famous TV anchor Amir Liaqat, reportedly said during his “Alim Online” that Ahmedis are infidels and should be killed. Therefore, within a week many Ahmedis were killed by fanatics in different parts of the country. Furthermore, just days ago another Geo TV’s  anchor Hamid Mir, is reported to have used violent language against Ahmedis while speaking to Taliban allies. It’s unfortunate that despite protests by minorities and civic organizations, these shows are  still running in which anchors instigates attacks on religious minorities. In this critical situation media should be made to realize its voluntary responsibility of adhering to an accepted ‘code of conduct’, preferable chalked out in consultation with regulators/ government agencies.

PML-N must understand that all extremist organizations(voters of PML-N) in Punjab are against religious minorities and due to their negative propaganda and anti minorities campaign in province paved the way for such attacks on non Muslim community. Qamar Suleman, a Jamat-i-Ahmadiya Pakistan’s office bearer clearly said that “some groups even endorse the idea to kill Ahmadi’s terming them infidels and license to go to “heaven”–“. It is unfortunate that after Shanti Nagar and Gojra incidents, the PML-N government  once again failed once  again to prevent thee attacks on religious minorities despite being informed by the intelligence agencies. Unless the PML-N  takes firm and clear stance against such elements, separate itself from those who continuously instigating hate and violence such incidents can never be stopped. The predicament calls for immediate and meaningful counter measures to save the posterity/ humanity not party’s vote bank.



Latest Comments
  1. Z.Khan
  2. Aamir Mughal
  3. Junaid Qaiser
  4. Mansoor Khalid
  5. Farukh Sarwar
  6. humza ikram
  7. irfa urfi