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On May 27, this appeared on the front page of the Pakistani daily, Dawn: “Gunmen shot dead a doctor from the minority Ahmadi community in Chenab Nagar town in Punjab. Mehdi Ali, a 50-year-old heart surgeon from the United States, was attacked as he visited a cemetery in the town of Chenab Nagar.” The name of the town was changed from Rabwah to Chenab Nagar under the law of disabilities imposed on the Ahmadi community.
Nations trapped in the cycle of fate can’t resist a recurrent deathwish even when they know it is a deathwish. Turks can’t live down their primal hatred of Armenians, and become Turks only when they collectively hate them. Iranians have the same kind of emotion about the Bahai. Once Germans hated Jews and killed a lot of them to post their “greatness” to the world. Pakistan’s deathwish hatred is against the Ahmadi community. It lives as a nation only if it kills Ahmadis and ceases to be a nation if it stops killing them.
Pakistan’s “greatness” as a nation was asserted soon after it had its first real constitution, in 1973. The second amendment inserted into it — to remove the “flaw” of the original text — apostatised the Ahmadi community, a sect which controversially thought its founder a “prophet without a book”. Muslims hold that after Prophet Mohammed, no further prophethood was allowed. Once lapsed from Islam, the Ahmadis became non-Muslims, but that was not enough to assuage the identity-forming passion of the nation: the constitution anomalously still protected them and gave them equal status as citizens of Pakistan.
There are only two to five million Ahmadis in Pakistan. Special killing organisations often claim to have converted thousands of “Qadianis” — an insulting alternative name given to Ahmadis — every year. It is possible that Ahmadis hide their real identity to avoid being killed by vigilante mobs. In the fascist lexicon, a nation cannot become great unless it smears its face with blood. It was necessary to impose further disabilities on the community, making it possible for the administration to harass them. The penal code article 298-B stands as the singular achievement of a nation on its path to “greatness”.
The law says: any Ahmadis calling himself “Muslim” and calling his place of worship a “mosque” will be arrested and put on trial. Any reference to “kalimas (pronouncements of the Muslim faith)” or the Quran, Prophet Mohammed, his companions and the “azan (call to prayer)” would attract a prison sentence going up to three years. The level of piety among Muslims is so high that an Ahmadi serving a sentence may be killed by Muslim convicts of the prison.
The apostatisation of the continued…