U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order on U.S. refugees and immigration could severely affect Pakistanis who plan on visiting the United States. A draft copy of the executive order published by L.A. Times describes how U.S. visas could be denied to those who engage in “persecution of those who practice other religions”.
The order reads:
In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry and hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice other religions) or those who would oppress members of one race, one gender, or sexual orientation.
Under the current Pakistani laws, Ahmadis who identify themselves as Muslims are persecuted for their religious beliefs. Ahmadi Muslims have been jailed for reading the Quran, reciting the Islamic creed (Kalima), the call to prayer (Adhan), referring to their places of worship as Mosques etc, and are banned from the pilgrimage to Mecca. All Muslims in Pakistan applying for a passport are required to sign a legal declaration against the minority Ahmadis, stating that they consider Ahmadis as non-Muslims and they consider the founder of their faith to be an ‘impostor’. This means any Pakistani citizen, Official or Minister who uses his or her position to arrest, harass or persecute Ahmadis due to their religious beliefs could be denied a U.S. visa.
In the past, several of the country’s top politicians including cricketer turned politician Imran Khan and former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf have publicly expressed their support for the laws under which minority Ahmadis are persecuted. If the draft order is made into law, these politicians – and any others found engaging in harassment and persecution of religious minorities – could be denied a U.S. visa.