13 Dec, 2012
It is believed that Pakistan’s descent into the quagmire of violence, partaken in the name of religion has its roots in 1974 when the otherwise ‘secular’ government of Z A. Bhutto declared (through legislation) the Ahmadi community as a religious minority.
Many Pakistani political historians have also correctly pointed out that the Bhutto government’s move in this regard set off various other scenarios that set the scene for its own dramatic downfall in 1977.
Without getting into the theological debate of whether the Ahmadi community deserved excommunication from the fold of Islam in Pakistan or not, one can, however, reach a political conclusion that this issue has triggered the demise of democratic and non-religious forces that sided with those who originally initiated legislative action against the Ahmadis.
The following examples in this context should also be taken as a warning by democratic parties on both sides of the ideological divide that their ‘pragmatic’ association with fundamentalist and sectarian outfits is akin to digging a hole for themselves.
For example, in hindsight one can suggest the Bhutto regime deluded itself by believing that ousting the Ahmadis from the fold of Islam would appease the religious parties that were constantly criticising the government of being ‘un-Islamic.’
The Ahmadis’ ouster saw the Bhutto government increasingly cornering itself and offering more and more concessions to the religious parties in spite of the fact that most of these parties had been routed in the 1970 general election.