KARACHI, Pakistan — For the last two years, former cricketing superstar Imran Khan has been trumpeting talk of change to Pakistan’s public. Standing in front of beloved national monuments all across the country, Khan has pledged that if his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party wins national elections on Saturday, he’ll transform Pakistan into “Naya [New] Pakistan.”
His promises — which range from stopping drone strikes to revitalizing the country’s economy to eliminating corruption — have struck a chord with many people in the beleaguered “old” Pakistan, particularly minorities who have been promised a life without persecution under his rule.
But that was before Khan mentioned the Ahmadis.
Ahmadis are a minority Muslim group in Pakistan who’ve long been vilified for their religious beliefs by mainstream politicians, Islamic theologists and the country’s militants. Mainstream Muslims in Pakistan consider Ahmadis heretics for believing their sect’s founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmed, was a messiah.