Religious Freedom – A Myth in Pakistan

Eid Mubarak – or at least I thought so, until I heard that 6 innocent Ahmadi Muslims were shot and persecuted for their beliefs.

On July 25th, 2018 the people of Pakistan elected star-cricketer Imran Khan from the PTI party to be the country’s Prime Minister. Throughout his campaign Imran Khan had boasted about creating a “Naya Pakistan” but it is evident that Pakistan once again remains the same as it did 30 years ago.

In 1974 the Pakistani Government had declared via the Second Amendment that those belonging to the Ahmadiyya Community were non-Muslim. Following this on April 26th, 1984, General Zia-ul-Haq had passed Ordinance XX which is a legal maneuver to imprison and infringe on the rights of religious freedom for Ahamdi Muslims in Pakistan. This ordinance allows the government to persecute and imprison Ahmadis for professing their faith, participating in prayer, or even associating themselves with Islam. This is a gross and deplorable act by the Pakistani Government to infringe on the rights of religious freedom for Ahmadis living in Pakistan.

On the blessed day of Eid for Muslims across the world, an extremist mob had shot 6 Ahmadi Muslims and set fire to a mosque belonging to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Prior to this on May 24th, 2018 a similar incident had taken place in Sialkot where another extremist mob believed to be tied to the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TRLY) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had decimated a Mosque also belonging to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Is this the “Naya Pakistan” that Imran Khan had promised to his country?

Pakistan was a country that was made for the sole purpose of religious freedom and freedom of conscience, but it is clear that this country is headed in the opposite direction. It has been over thirty years of persecution against the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community with no one stepping in to defend their rights. When will the Pakistani Government make amends with its faults and establish true religious freedom? When will Ahmadi Muslims once again be able to freely practice their religion? I hope and pray for the sake of this country that Imran Khan truly does implement a “Naya Pakistan” and will bring about a change that Pakistan so desperately needs.

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Kunwar Karim is a young Human Rights activist based in Canada. He currently attends McMaster University in Ontario.
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