ISLAMABAD: The drive against the Ahmadi community, which has become a regular feature in Punjab, is not only bringing a bad name to the country, but also inviting the ire of UN bodies.

After a campaign last month to stop Ahmadis from offering sacrifice on Eidul Azha, the latest drive launched against the community involves demolition of the minarets of their places of worship.

The drive is being spearheaded by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).

A poster floated by the social media wing of the TLP in Sarai Alamgir, a town near Jhelum, said: “From Shaandar Chowk to the Qadiani Centre, all minarets will be demolished.”

The drive, the poster said, will commence at 10am on the 10th of Muharram (July 29) from the TLP’s office in Sarai Alamgir.

TLP leading a campaign of demolishing minarets of their places of worship

On July 14, the TLP pressured police into demolishing minarets of an Ahmadi place of worship in Jhelum. The party’s local chapter later announced that it would demolish minarets of all Ahmadi places of worship in the entire Jhelum district.

Some of these sites are more than a hundred years old.

Amir Mehmood, a spokesman for the Jamaat Ahmadiyya in Pakistan, attributed the recent upsurge in anti-Ahmadi drive to the coming elections.

“We have seen it in the past too that political parties use the religious card to woo voters by whipping up emotions,” Mr Mehmood said.

In the wake of social media complaints to the Punjab government, the deputy commissioner of Jhelum, retired Captain Samiullah Farooq, has recommended gagging Saad Rizvi of TLP during Muharram and Safar.

The Jhelum police have lodged two FIRs against the TLP chief for making provocative speeches.

When Dawn tried to contact TLP leaders, no office-bearer responded to repeated phone calls.

When an attempt was made to get in touch with a TLP spokesperson on the phone number given on the poster, the person who answered the call said bluntly “wrong number”.

A similar campaign was launched by TLP in the run-up to Eidul Azha when it filed as many as 23 complaints with police to stop Ahmadis from sacrificing animals.

Police gave in to TLP pressure and tried to stop the community from sacrificing animals at 89 places and booked 13 individuals in six cases. Seven of them were arrested in various districts.

A report released by Jamaat Ahmadiyya said police had seized 10 animals and took possession of sacrificial meat from houses of five members of the community.

UN concern

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has expressed concern over the treatment of Ahmadis in Pakistan and asked the government to respond to allegations of violations of international law.

The OHCHR said in its letter: “We would like to bring to the attention of your Excellency’s Government the information we have received concerning growing discrimination and rising incidents of hate speech and incitement to violence against the Ahmadi religious minority in Pakistan, including attacks against places of worship and other acts of intimidation.”

The letter was submitted to Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

“We are deeply concerned about this series of violent attacks against the Ahmadi minority, which we have previously addressed in several communications that despite our requests for remedial actions from authorities, the safety of the Ahmadiyya minority continues to deteriorate.” the OHCHR letter said.

Published in Dawn, July 24th, 2023

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