Friday prayer congregations at two Ahmadiyya mosques were attacked by grenades, gun-fire and suicide-bombers in Lahore. More than 90 individuals lost their lives and over 100 suffered wounds. Taliban of Punjab claimed responsibility.
Journalists reporting the hour long brutality might have been surprised to know that Ahmadiyya worship places cannot be referred as ‘mosques’, according to a constitutional amendment introduced by General Zia-ul-Haq.
Ahmadiyya is a sect that came into being in early 20th century among Punjabi Muslims. Besides making fantastic claims like all other religions, Ahmadis relinquished Jihad(Holy war) by sword, and resolved to rely on the power of argument.
Religious extremism, especially killing and persecution of Ahmadi-Muslims in Pakistan is as old as the country itself. An army doctor, Major Mahmood was murdered by a mob of mullas in Quetta in 1948. A martial-law was imposed in Lahore to curb anti-Ahmadi riot in 1953. Muslim League made an alliance with ‘Ahrar’, the Ahmadi-haters, in the elections of 1951 and the religious zealots celebrated ‘Yom-e-Tashakkur’ (thanksgiving) because no Ahmadi made it into the parliament. Mian Daulatana, the Muslim-League Chief Minister, was sacked by the Governor General after the 1953 riot.
A prominent TV journalist was recently caught on tape talking to Punjabi Taliban against the Ahmadis. Attempt to show strength against Facebook by religious sections did not gain much support among Muslims in Pakistan and abroad. This brutality against unarmed, innocent worshipers could have been another show-off by Islamic extremists who fear extinction.
As families in Lahore grieve the demise of their loved ones, Pakistanis all over the world feel perplexed over the resolve of those who should be fighting the scourge of Taliban. Quoting instances of Taliban presence in Punjab, a Dawn editorial expressed,” What more will it take to convince the provincial government that the Punjabi Taliban are a reality that cannot be wished away?”
The ruling Muslim League in Punjab enjoys friendly relations with Jihadi outfits for political gains like the Muslim League of 1953. Talking to media, Senior Advisor to Punjab Chief Minister Zulifiqar Khosa said that an operation was started in the tribal areas because the writ of the government was challenged, but Punjab is not facing such problems.
Justice Munir and Justice Kayani wrote in their report on anti-Ahamadiyya riot of 1953, “If there is one thing that has been conclusively demonstrated in this inquiry, it is that provided you can persuade the masses to believe that something they are asked to do is religiously right or enjoined by religion, you can set them to any course of action, regardless of all considerations of discipline, loyalty, decency, morality or civic sense.”
A proper analysis of religious extremism and its influence on military, politics and government could help us understand the problem in its depth and width. After condemning Arabs for the 9/11 terrorist incidents and invading Afghanistan in 2001, US media has been identifying Pakistan as the root-problem.
USA and their allies are waging a war against the terrorists to address their own security problem but Pakistanis have been mutilated and oppressed by these faithful warriors for ever. Educated Pakistanis must rise up against religious fanaticism if they do not want to see their country descend into a Somalia.