Pakistan is the bastion of Islam, and Muslims in Pakistan the vanguards of the Islamic movement. They will shortly take over the world and govern it with Shariah laws.
The only problem is for us to draw a consensus as to who really is a Muslim; the Sunnis or the Shias, sub categorised further into Barelvis, Ithna Asharis, Deobandis, Wahabis, the Ismailis or any other less popular sects?
We’re at least a step closer to achieving that end. Ahmadis are non-Muslims, and our constitution corroborates that stand; if people from that sect still decide to be tactless enough, so as to defy us on it, well we have article 298B and 298C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) to ensure they fall in line.
So, my contention is not if Ahmadis are Muslims or not, nor is it on if they have a right upon the Islamic terminologies and symbolism. No folks, I’m a man of democracy and of rule of law, therefore, if my parliament decides upon a law ordering something to be the case, I won’t speak otherwise. However, where a law exists and is not being implemented, I think of it as my moral duty to point it out and to request the authorities concerned to adhere to it.
When a noble woman, named Fatima, committed a theft and Usama ibn Zayd was made to intercede on her behalf by the Arabs, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) asseverated that all are equal before law, and that not even Fatima (RA), Prophet (pbuh’s) own daughter, would have been spared the punishment had she committed the crime.
Immunity, therefore, is the very antithesis to the Islamic teachings. Muslims or non-Muslims, patricians or plebeians, rich or poor, whosoever disregards legal rules must be held accountable.
Why then should those who contravene article 297 of the PPC, a part of the much argued blasphemy laws, not be brought to book?
The article reads as quoted below:
297. Trespassing on burial places, etc.:
“Whoever, with the intention of wounding the feelings of any person, or of insulting the religion of any person, or with the knowledge that the feelings of any person are likely to be wounded, or that the religion of any person is likely to be insulted thereby, commits any trespass in any place of worship or on any place of sculpture, or any place set apart for the performance of funeral rites or as a, depository for the remains of the dead, or offers any indignity to any human corpse or causes disturbance to any persons assembled for the performance of funeral ceremonies, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.”
The purpose of blasphemy laws wasn’t strictly to defend Islam, but rather to prevent religion related conflicts, and to ensure that non-Muslims enjoy equal protection through these laws as Muslim do. They need to be utilised the same way.
The latest episode of the infringement of the article 297 of the PPC occurred in the model town area of Lahore, when fifteen armed men vandalised over 100 graves belonging to the marginalised Ahmadi minority.
No case has been registered; no one has been booked.
In fact, the concerned police authorities have feigned ignorance.
Earlier this year, similar incidents have been reported from Hafizabad and Jeranwala too.
Blasphemy, I cry.
No vigilantes to ensure justice, however, not that I condone it, no suo motu.
I do not intend to harangue the readers, nor is it my intention to give out a sermon as to what miseries the denial of justice can inflict upon a nation, but it must be emphasised that without providence of justice we cannot expect the people to obey laws. Accountability, wherever neglected has brought about a culture of delinquency, corruption in the government departments being a case in point.
The trespassers of the Ahmadi cemetery, therefore, must be prosecuted to create a good precedent.
Besides, Pakistan’s track record with regards to its minorities is already despicable. Incidents of the sort of Gojra, persecution like that of Rimsha Masih and the exodus of the Hindus of Sindh lays bare any claims we may have that we treat our minorities with compassion. In fact, Hindu marriages can’t even be registered in Pakistan.
It is perturbing to see that the situation is only worsening by the day. The intolerance that has pervaded our society has made us forget the basic essence of Islam and everything that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) stood for.
The desecration of the Ahmadi graves is only another indication of the quickly contaminating mind-set.
We may notice the plight of the Gazans or the Rohingya Muslims, but fail to notice the excesses right under our noses. We too are Zionists to a few. We too are Burman monks to some.
The nation needs to be taught that you’ve to give respect to earn respect. Empathy with the other kind, unfortunately, is not our best trait. If you cannot value the sentiments of others, you too would be affronted. That is the way the world functions. That is the truth of the times.