As has been the case since 1985, the country’s 200,000 Ahmadis will not be casting their ballots on May 11. They remain a community without representation and voice, marginalised within a society where they have been subjected to ceaseless discrimination, denied jobs and education, ostracised, beaten and sometimes subjected to brutal terrorist attacks. The Ahmadis, many of whom have fled the country in droves, were officially declared “non-Muslim” in the 1970s, the state determining their faith.
Since then, the state has adopted increasingly vicious policies. In 1985, under the late General Ziaul Haq, a new form was introduced in which voters who declared themselves Muslim had to denounce the Ahmadi faith. As the Ahmadis refused to do so, they were placed on separate rolls as “non-Muslims” under the separate electorate system. While the joint electorate was revived in 2002, as a result of extremist protests, a separate roll was created for Ahmadis. This policy has since been retained, with the Election Commission of Pakistan using NADRA data to create a separate list for Ahmadis. A community spokesman has made it clear they will not vote as non-Muslims. The group thus remains disenfranchised, while, as the spokesman has said, the appearance of their addresses on the NADRA list opens up new dangers for them.