I have my sympathies with Ahmadis: Pervez Musharraf

Former Pakistani President General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf has said that his sympathies are with Pakistan’s persecuted Ahmadiyya Muslim community. He made the remarks while speaking at the Churchill Center in Washington D.C on Wednesday.

While answering a question from a Rabwah Times reporter about the country’s anti-Ahmadiyya laws, Musharraf said:

This is a very sensitive question that you are asking really, personally, I believe in tolerance, I believe in moderation, I believe religion should be between him and his god and I don’t believe in interfering in that domain.

Unfortunately in the Muslim world, many are divided on this issue, [In] Pakistan but they took a certain decision on the Ahmadiyya issue and this was done in Mr. Bhutto’s regime, who I would say was most nonreligious [person] himself.

But it has been taken and I think it is very difficult to undo it now, that is all that I can say and I would not like to comment further whether it is right or wrong, it is a very serious religious issue, although personally as I said I believe in tolerance and accepting whatever religious views anyone holds.

Responding to another question about the removal and inclusion of the religion column in Pakistani passport, Musharraf said:

This is again the same sensitive question really, I would like to pass this question, I do understand your concerns. I have my great sympathies with Ahmadis and I am not saying that because you are an Ahmadi.

I am saying that because many many of my friends and very close friends have been and are Ahmadis and I think you are a community which is very educated and very progressive and very dynamic, I mean every word of it.

So, therefore, one should favor you, yes but one has to see the bigger issue of Pakistan and turmoil within Pakistan, So one has to balance sympathies towards your community with realities on ground, So you will have to live with it, One hopes that better times will come.

Under President Musharraf’s time in 2004, the religious identification column in Pakistani passports was removed, which enabled discrimination against Ahmadis. But the column was reinstated in March 2005, after the country’s religious right called the move an attack on their religious identity.

Ehsan Rehan
Ehsan is a Washington D.C. based reporter who covers Human Rights & Religious Freedom issues.
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