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Minarets of the worship place of Ahmedis in Pichnand village before being demolished. The picture below is after they were demolished. — Dawn
Minarets of the worship place of Ahmedis in Pichnand village before being demolished. The picture below is after they were demolished. — Dawn

CHAKWAL: On a first visit, one only notices the calm which engulfs the sleepy village of Pichnand, located some 90 kilometres from the district capital, in Talagang tehsil. Most of its 24,000 residents earn their livelihood from agriculture and cattle farming.

And walking through the quiet winding streets of the village, it is hard to tell that underneath the calm, simmer religious tensions with extremism on the rise in the Talagang tehsil, 45 kilometres from Chakwal. New blasphemy cases are routinely registered in the area, in most of which a man named Mohammad Saeed is the complainant and an advocate named Tariq Mehmood is the counsel.

The growing number of such cases has left 80 members of the Ahmedi community, who occupy 15 houses in the Pichnand village, in perpetual state of fear. Religious conferences are regularly organised in the village where hate speech is delivered against the marginalised Ahmedi community. These events have also put the village under the spotlight of the local press.

Read: Ahmadis on the run: Fearing death in People's Colony

The latest blow came on May 4, when on the orders of a District and Sessions court, the minarets and dome of the sole worship place of Ahmedis in the village were demolished.

According to law, a worship place of Ahmedis cannot have minarets or domes as it makes it resemble a mosque. The demolition was welcomed by religious leaders of the area from Deobandi and Barelvi sects alike and for days, local newspapers ran statements from religious leaders who hailed it as a positive step. This has intensified hatred against the Ahmedis in the village.

The central deputy general secretary of Majlis-i-Ehrar Islam Pakistan (MEIP), Dr Omar Farooq, wrote a highly inflammatory article in a local Urdu newspaper titled ‘Qadianis in Pichnand face defeat’.

“We cannot call our worship place a mosque, neither can our worship places have minarets nor domes as these are the symbols of a mosque. We cannot call the Azaan on a loud speaker. We are not even allowed to say ‘Asalam-o-Alaikum’ as we are banned to do so by law,” laments an elder of the Ahmedi community in the village.

“Of course, such law only exists in Pakistan,” he hastens to add.

The first Ahmedi of this village was Malik Mohammad Khan a soldier in the British Army, who during the First World War became an Ahmedi. Most Ahmedi residents of the village today belong to lower social castes and are vulnerable to attacks at the hands of extremist clerics.

“The situation was quite peaceful till 2008 when a campaign was launched against us by some hardliner clerics residing in Talagang,” says an Ahmedi resident.

Also read: Ahmadis, seared to the wall

In 2008 some clerics from Talagang city launched a campaign against Ahmedis claiming that they were trying to expand their worship place. This campaign resulted in the registration of a case in 2011.

Since 2008, anti-Ahmedi literature is routinely distributed in the village. Three years later the first conference titled ‘Tahafuz-i-Khatam-i-Nabuwat’ was organised in the village by Tehreek-i-Tahafuz-i-Khatam-i-Nabuwat (TTKN) in which the religious leaders deliver hate speech against Ahmedis.

“Pamphlets filled with abusive and derogatory slogans against us are distributed in the village and members of the MEIP and the TTKN put up anti-Ahmedi stickers on the doors of shops and houses in the village,” says another Ahmedi.

Copies of the pamphlets, available with Dawn, speak volumes about the gravity of the situation. One pamphlet issued by the MEIP carries a list of 35 Ahmedi men of the village. The addresses and even castes of all these 35 individuals are mentioned along with their names. The pamphlet urges Muslims of mainstream sects to socially and politically boycott these Ahmedis.

“Such kind of hate material is intensifying the security risk we face. Our children are bullied in the village school and we fear for their lives,” says another member of the Ahmedi community.

The Ahmedis in this village question the seriousness of the much-touted National Action Plan (NAP). “Where is the NAP when hate speeches continue to be delivered and columns against us are published in the press,” asks an Ahmedi.

A police official while admitting the sensitivity of the situation said: “Everyone should be free to live their life in accordance with their religion.”

Talking to Dawn, Amir Mehmood, in-charge of Press Section of Jamaat-i-Ahmediya Pakistan expressed concerns over the plight of Ahmedis in Pakistan.

“We actively participated in the Pakistan Movement but today the space for our community is shrinking each day,” he says.

“In Lahore, 86 Ahmedis were butchered and our women were burnt alive in Gujranwala but we did not even stage a peaceful protest rally. We are bearing all this silently,” he adds.

Holding government responsible for the plight of Ahmedis, Mr Mehmood says the situation is getting worse each day.

“It is the responsibility of the state to protect its citizens irrespective of their religious association,” he says.

When approached, District Police Officer (DPO) Dr Moeen Masood vowed to take action against those involved in spreading hatred against Ahmedis.

“Nobody would be allowed to violate the law. We would take legal action against those who are publishing such hate material,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2015

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Comments (41) Closed

Sajid Syed Jun 09, 2015 11:28am

Caste system in this age and time?

Baber Jun 09, 2015 11:38am

Miss Malala, here is another community which is 100% Pakistani and living in Pakistan for whom you should raise awareness among the world leaders. The behaviour of the nation and the people towards them is simply barbaric.

Jari Jun 09, 2015 11:43am

Bad governance, by bad people. No one is serious in bringing harmony to the people of Pakistan.

Anees Jun 09, 2015 11:47am

Persecution and violence against Ahmadi's under the watchful eyes of the Rulers is no new for that community. The question is how to address this right from the top to bottom.

Roshee Jun 09, 2015 12:15pm

This is so horrible! How do they call themselves muslims by putting a community in such a situation? Really wish that some action is taken. Their patience will be short lived & should be short lived-- Till when can they bear such inhumane behavior?

seemi Jun 09, 2015 12:55pm

This is not a story of only one village of Pakistan. Such things are happening on daily basis with Ahmedis all over the country.

Kamal Pasha Jun 09, 2015 01:07pm

Nowadays everybody is afraid for their lives in the country. This government has failed to protect the people and their properties. Gunmen are roaming the streets openly and killing the innocents without any fear including security personals.

Tariq Amir Jun 09, 2015 03:03pm

Where is the national action plan against terrorism and spreading of hate?

Farrukh Munir Jun 09, 2015 03:25pm

Yes, we should hold the government responsible but it's the general public who need to change their attitude.

Shailesh Jun 09, 2015 03:28pm

Wow? What a dream country of jinnah saab

Amer RAO Jun 09, 2015 03:30pm

No body is safe in Pakistan, Government must protect all.

Vimal Jun 09, 2015 04:02pm

Really shocking wht caste system is doing in pakistan... I thought its monopoly of india.... See our roots are same...

Harmony-1 Jun 09, 2015 04:14pm

With so many strands of religion? God knows what the truth is! Only one principle should be followed 'live and let live' not 'live and let die'.

Shahzad Jun 09, 2015 04:29pm

DPO is saying 'we will'. Why has he been silent so far?

Wandering Around Jun 09, 2015 05:12pm

Very sad to see a house of prayer desecrated in the name of religion.

Bulla Jun 09, 2015 05:21pm

and we non ahmedies in all Pakistan fear same

Feroz Jun 09, 2015 05:22pm

Pakistani government and citizens are most worried about Rohingya Muslims in Burma, who cares about Ahmadies, Christians, Hindus in Pakistan.

fatima Jun 09, 2015 05:54pm

very sad after reading these kind of circumstances facing all those Ahmedis this is'nt that liberal Pakistan for which Iqbal dreamt for

usman Jun 09, 2015 08:26pm

Nobody would be allowed for publishing hate material. The question is when that day will come? There are many anti ahmadi banners hanging here in Lahore and police is silent and don't have courage to remove them.

bauke Jun 09, 2015 08:29pm

@Sajid Syed Yes sir, I -a christian- have never been allowed to have lunch in a restaurant next to mulsim

Tahir Chaudhry Jun 09, 2015 08:30pm

Nothing will change in Pakistan. Rulers are busy managing their Mega Projects and majority of the public is not concerned. Only the "Creator of Heavens & Earth" will ultimately interfere and set things right.

Faisal Jun 09, 2015 08:53pm

@Tahir Chaudhry

Nobody's coming, society has to fix itself.

Shyam Kokku Jun 09, 2015 10:04pm

And the PM announces aid to Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. While the Nobel laureate appeals to the world leaders to protect them!!!

Waz Jun 09, 2015 10:33pm

They are so called "Muslims" demolishing minarets and domes, removing Kalima from mosques of ahmadies and stopping them from saying Slaam. How will they answer God almighty on the day of judgement?

Nameless Jun 09, 2015 11:57pm

...but lets save Rohingya Muslims first?

Khan Jun 10, 2015 12:02am

Is this what our religion taught us? These people are not only bringing Pakistan down but soon they will destroy it.

shahid Jun 10, 2015 12:43am

I am moderate sunni Muslim. What I learnt and been taught that Islam gives freedom to practice any faith. Pakistan was established based on these points where all minorities and sects will have freedom to practice their faith. Yes, if you disgrace other faiths then there is law to punish those people. But if they live peacefully then true Muslim should not worry about it.

Murad Firdous Khan Jun 10, 2015 12:46am

This has nothing to do with Religion hate crimes, If you go deep deep inside the issue has the same resemblance from the incident of Raja Bazar incident in Ashura procession. There and here the Qabza group is in Action, they hire the Molvi of the area from a particular sect. Because these days Molvis are the cheapest commodity available on every rack of any sale shop. People just look at what is happening on the day of event and what happen afterwards nobody cares about it....but certainly it took the lives of most of innocent as victims.

jdshami Jun 10, 2015 01:39am

Stop explioting this issue.

Waseem Jun 10, 2015 01:54am

we fully support our Ahmedi brothers. they have full rights as any other Pakistani.

Rashid Ishaq Jun 10, 2015 02:55am

Nabeel Dhakku, in same district Chakwal, there is another village called Dulmial and so many Ahmadies living there peacefully; did not see?

holysmoke Jun 10, 2015 02:59am

@seemi; And with Hindus, Christians, Ismailis, Ahamedis, and Shia(in general). Is this why Pakiatan was created? If, NOT, then everyone, DO SOMETHING --individually! Don't wait for some saviour or General Raheel!

holysmoke Jun 10, 2015 03:04am

@Tariq Amir: YOU are the National Action Plan! You won't like it, but let me quote M.K. Gandhi who came from the same state as M.A. Jinnah: "Be the change you want to see".

holysmoke Jun 10, 2015 03:05am

@Wandering Around: In what places do we see prayer houses attacked most? Draw your conclusions based on facts.

holysmoke Jun 10, 2015 03:06am

@Farrukh Munir: Absolutely TRUE!

white noise Jun 10, 2015 04:19am

in all the chaos, Dawn has managed to become the voice of the minorities in Pakistan. without these articles, only the minorities know that they suffer.

Well done Dawn.

Fazal Karim Jun 10, 2015 06:34am

Thank you Dawn for publishing this article.

Muhammad Jun 10, 2015 07:53am

dear newspaper, This is your report about ckakwal district about ahmadies is absolutely right because in Pakistan can't want to listen other views and everyone want to force their mind

AK Jun 10, 2015 10:04am

@bauke I, a muslim, invite you to a lunch with me. :)

MA Jun 10, 2015 10:28am

The Govt is more interested in generating Metro Buses, taking overseas trips, raising hopes of the poor in the country with false promise of betterment. Why would they be concerned about a few families of a Muslim Community in a small far away village!!!

Irfan Siddiqui Jun 10, 2015 11:07pm

@Feroz : For a day lets all be Ahmadi's and Shia and Christian on Pakistan's social media at least: The slogan can be: I am on the arms and foreheads..and let's cause a major facebook/tweet traffic..what do you say?