THE ANNUAL Jalsa Salana congregation of the Ahmadiyya community began on Monday in Qadian in the border district of Gurdaspur, but without the customary participation of delegates from Pakistan. Last year, as many as 6,000 Pakistanis took part in the congregation, which brings together members of the community from across the world. This year, according to community representatives in India, visas were issued to over 5,000 Pakistani Ahmadiyyas but not a single person has come.
“I think the internal situation of the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan may be one of the reasons for community members to stay away from the event. Recently, a raid was conducted at our community headquarters,” Tariq Ahmad, spokesperson of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jaamaat India, told The Indian Express.
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On December 12, the day of Milad ul Nabi, the Prohpet’s birthday, a mob stormed an Ahmadiyya mosque in Chakwal. Also, Counter Terrorism Department in Pakistan’s Punjab province raided the community’s headquarters in Rabwa, Jhang district, and detained four of its members.
Both incidents have scared the community despite the positive move by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of naming the Quaid-e-Azam University’s National Centre of Physics after the long unrecognised Dr Abdus Salam, Pakistan’s first Nobel laureate, an Ahmadi by faith.
Tariq added that there was a “feeling of grief” among the community members there for the recent raid and the members were not feeling secure enough to travel to Qadian. “The Indian government had issued more than 5,000 visas for Pakistan pilgrims. There is no problem in India in welcoming them,” he said. “We are disappointed that no one from Pakistan is attending the conference this year. But, we are hopeful that in the coming years, they will attend the conference.”
On Monday, nearly 14,000 Ahmadiyyas from 32 countries attended the three-day conference. The community is estimated to have over 170 million followers worldwide and at least 100,000 in India. The Jamaat’s founder, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was born and lies buried in Qadian.
When contacted, Jamaat Ahmadiyya Pakistan’s spokesperson Saleemuddin refused to comment. “I won’t be able to provide any information why no one from Pakistan participated in the conference. Please contact our officials in India,” he told The Indian Express on the phone.
In Pakistan, those who belong to the Ahmadiyya community are regularly prosecuted as mainstream Islam does not recognise Ahmadiyyas as Muslims. The community was constitutionally declared non-Muslim in 1974.