Pakistan’s Wretched of the Earth

The recent act of violence against Ahmadis in Gujranwala is part of a series of such events, which have been taking place in Pakistan for many decades now. While all religious minorities in Pakistan have been under attack, Ahmadis are the worst affected. I will argue that this is because the very entity of followers of this community has been criminalised in Pakistan.

It has been exactly 40 years since Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims by the National Assembly of Pakistan. The proceedings of the debate, which took place in the August-September of 1974, have now been officially declassified and can be accessed online (although the staff of the National Assembly continues to maintain that this record was destroyed by fire during the 1990s). These proceedings comprise 21 volumes with over 3,000 pages. I am leaving out the details of the extensive debate, which took place in the assembly and jump to the concluding speech made by the attorney general on September 6-7. Yahya Bakhtiyar, the then attorney general, did not just give theological reasons for declaring Ahmadis non-Muslims; he also furnished arguments, which, in a nuanced way, were suggestive of the inherent disloyalty of Ahmadis towards the state.

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