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Pakistan: No peace, even in the grave — Gulmina Bilal Ahmad


The earlier incident drew our attention towards the challenging of the writ of the government by terrorists and the latter incident informed us about the callousness of state officials about the rights of minorities.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit: Daily Times | Pakistan
By Gulmina Bilal Ahmad | December 7, 2012

A country that still lacks an effective anti-terrorism law cannot complain about such incidents

When an individual comes to the end of his/her journey in this world, he/she is buried in a grave with an inscription marking his/her last resting place. But is a grave really the last resting place for the dead? Perhaps not. Pakistan is a country where being part of the Ahmadi community means you are not allowed to rest in peace even after you are dead. I am referring to the most recent incident in which tombstones of more than 100 graves were razed by 12-15 armed men during the wee hours of December 4, 2012. The graveyard belonged to the Ahmadi community and the verdict given by the terrorists was the use of verses of the Quran on tombstones by Ahmadis, who are considered as heretics, and even entitled to murder by extremist groups in the country. It is not just extremists, but a large majority of Muslims in the country believes in a similar ideology. The only difference is that extremists actually kill and persecute members of the Ahmadi community, and the rest of the people make sure that members of this community are socially excluded in every possible manner.

The most alarming fact about this incident was that it did not occur in a far-flung village, but right in the middle of Lahore in one of its most posh areas. Another alarming or interesting fact is that the graveyard is very near the residences of the Sharif family and many other dignitaries and politicians. So keeping in view that fact, one can easily ascertain the level of security in the locality and the possibility of such an incident. Yet more than a dozen armed men with digging and excavation tools entered the graveyard, kept the caretakers hostages and completed their mission, as explained by a caretaker who was referring to the conversation of the leader of the group with someone over the phone. Phew. It is very much like a scene from a Hollywood movie. Yet the denial syndrome persists and perhaps more than ever before.

The reasons for such neglect are obvious, yet those who are responsible are not bothered about it. A country that still lacks an effective anti-terrorism law cannot complain about such incidents. NACTA (National Counter Terrorism Authority) was established in 2009 to act as an independent body and a central coordination authority between different civil and military agencies. Additionally, it was given the task to enact an anti-terrorism law as an effective instrument to exercise effective control over terrorism and the various terrorist organisations in the country. However, sadly it has already seen six coordinators since its inception and no consensus over the legal status of the organisation. In a recent turn of events, a draft bill has been approved by the federal cabinet to provide legal cover to NACTA.

The Punjab government on the other hand had been denying the presence of any extremist elements in Punjab. This denial syndrome has allowed extremists and militants to expand their activities and the result is what we witnessed in the form of this incident of the desecration of graves.

Most of the minorities are not safe in Pakistan. It is not just about Ahmadis, but Hindus and Christians are facing the same ordeal. In a recent incident, a century-old Hindu temple was destroyed in the Soldier Bazaar in Karachi. The temple fell victim to the anti-encroachment campaign started by the Military Estates Office and a builder. The temple has been razed and religious deities of Hindus were desecrated.

The freedom of expression and the freedom to practice religion, as granted by the constitution and, most importantly, by the founder of the country, are no more considered freedoms.

The earlier incident drew our attention towards the challenging of the writ of the government by terrorists and the latter incident informed us about the callousness of state officials about the rights of minorities. By doing a simple comparison, we can see that on the one hand, the government is unable to establish its writ, not even in settled areas, and is unable to provide security to the minority communities. On the other, the state authorities are involved in persecuting minorities themselves. In such a situation, the minorities are left with minimum options to either immigrate to other countries or if that is not possible face persecution.

At a time when Pakistan has further climbed up the ladder of corruption from the 42nd to 33rd ranking with an alleged corruption of Rs 12,600 billion, hopes about the enactment of the laws against terrorism or ensuring the rights of minorities remain faint.

The writer is a development consultant and can be reached at coordinator@individualland.com

Read original post here: VIEW : No peace, even in the grave — Gulmina Bilal Ahmad

This content-post is archived for backup and to keep archived records of any news Islam Ahmadiyya. The views expressed by the author and source of this news archive do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Ahmadiyya Times.

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