The State Department’s move came after a tweet by President Donald Trump in New Year accusing Pakistan of providing “safe haven to terrorists”. However, the list is significant given the state’s surrender to protests by the Islamic political party Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLY) at the end of last year.
Islamabad’s capitulation to the radical Islamist mob has endangered the Ahmadiyya community, which has been the target of death threats made openly since the party besieged the capital a few months ago.
“What’s ironic is that those ideologues who were against the creation of Pakistan not only accuse us of heresy, but also call Ahmadis – who played a crucial role in Pakistan’s freedom struggle – anti-nationals,” Ahmadiyya spokesperson Saleem Uddin said to Asia Times. “We have been the convenient scapegoats for the state since Pakistan’s inception. What was a breach of freedom of religion in 1974 [through the Second Amendment], was transformed into apartheid a decade later when the state slashed and barred us from ‘posing as Muslims’,” he went on.
While Ahmadis are constantly under the sword of blasphemy – a ‘crime’ punishable by death in Pakistan – owing to their interpretation of Islamic theology, the state has recently begun targeting atheists.
Last year, a judge in the Islamabad High Court maintained that “blasphemers are terrorists”. That prompted the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to not only block local Facebook pages that questioned religion, but also to send text messages to cell-phone users nationwide throughout the year, warning against blasphemy.
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