On 9 March 2018, a High Court Judge in Pakistan ruled that all citizens must declare their religion when applying for identity documents. Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, at Islamabad High Court said that those citizens who disguised their religious affiliation were guilty of betraying the state and that any applying for Government jobs should declare their faith.
The verdict was delivered after hearings on amendments to the controversial Khatm-e-Nabuwwat, (finality of prophethood), clause in the Election Reforms Act, 2017, which would have created a separate voters’ list for Ahmadis
Throughout the hearings, Justice Siddiqui targeted the Ahmadiyya Muslim community through what were seen by many as discriminatory orders. The judge asked for data about the number of Ahmadis in Pakistan and also those who “converted from Islam” as Ahmadis, along with their travel history. However, for many the most troubling aspect of the judgement was its wording, with paragraph 6 of the verdict asking the parliament to “take measures which can completely terminate those who scar (the belief in Khatm-e-Nabuwwat).”
Legally, the verdict contradicts Article 20 of the Constitution, which grants freedom of religion, and Article 27, which maintains there should be no discrimination during recruitment for public offices.
Saroop Ijaz of Human Rights Watch condemned the verdict by stating that the verdict “is not only attacking everybody’s religious freedom in Pakistan but he is also focussing on one particular sect, which is the Ahmadis,…A judgement like this would enable and incite violence”.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has also declared the verdict as ‘appalling’ and has said the repercussions of the verdict “could be deadly for members of the Ahmadiyya community, given their already precarious personal safety situation in the country.”
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Pakistan continues to be subject to persecution and the threat to the community continues to grow.
By way of background, in 1974 Pakistan amended its constitution to declare Ahmadis and non-Muslim. Further Ahmadi specific legislation
from the state and judiciary.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Pakistan is the only religious community to be targeted by the state simply on grounds of faith.
Perpetrators are given a free reign to attack, as they are well aware that they will not be prosecuted for their actions. Hundreds of Ahmadis have been murdered and the target killing of Ahmadis continues with impunity.
In Pakistan, Ahmadis cannot call themselves Muslims and are prohibited by law to vote as Muslims. Ahmadis are openly declared ‘wajibul qatl’ (deserving to be killed) with neither the state nor civic society willing to stand up for Ahmadis and against the extremists.