Persecuted Ahmadiyya Muslims to boycott local government polls

The Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan (JA) will not partake in the forthcoming local government polls to register its protest against what it calls the step-motherly conduct of the state towards it.

These elections have separate elections only for Ahmadis, says a letter written to the Election Commission of Pakistan, a copy of which was made available to the media. It is strange that Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Christians are included in one electoral roll and only Ahmadis are registered in a separate list. This not only makes them vulnerable to the target killing but is also a burden on their conscience to vote on condition of denying to be the followers of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the statement says.

Rabwah, the Pakistan headquarters of the JA, the largest conglomeration of Ahmadis in the nation, has the status of a municipal committee composed of a dozen wards in the forthcoming elections. Not a sole Ahmadi is contesting the elections. A candidate would need less than 200 votes to emerge victorious in Rabwah (Chenab Nagar) due to this.

Sibtain Shah, an independent candidate aspiring to become the Ward- 11 general councillor, told the media that he had been the area’s Nazim once and a councillor twice. He said the number of registered voters in the ward stood at 1,350. He said only around 300 people in the ward would cast their votes as Ahmadis would abstain from participating in the exercise. Shah said most politicians would have begged the community for votes had it not stayed away from the process. He said this did not bode well for politicians as striving to secure the community’s support would alienate other voters. Shah said this made it convenient for politicians to ensure that the community remained disenfranchised.

JA Spokesperson Saleemuddin told the media that the community had made the chief election commissioner cognisant of its reservations. “Separate voters’ lists are formulated for Ahmadis whose votes are only registered if they disassociate from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This is something that no Ahmadi will accept,” he said. Saleemuddin said JA had informed the commissioner that Ahmadis would abstain from casting their votes if the community’s request regarding the restoration of joint electorates in the forthcoming polls.

Chiniot DRO’s Spokesperson Chaudhry Abdul Hameed told the media that voters’ lists for Ahmadis were separate as they had been declared non-Muslim through the Second Amendment to the Constitution. He said formulating voters’ lists was a prerogative of the chief election commissioner. Hameed said Ahmadis traditionally tended to boycott polls.