PML-N leader retired Captain Muhammad Safdar on Tuesday launched into a virulent tirade against Pakistan’s persecuted Ahmadi communitywhile speaking in the National Assembly. He accused the faith group of acting against the country’s interests and called for action against its members.
Safdar, who is former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law, also criticised the renaming of Quaid-i-Azam University’s (QAU) physics centre after Professor Dr Abdus Salam, the country’s first Nobel laureate — the grounds for the lawmaker’s objections being the scientist’s Ahmadi faith.
The renaming of the physics centre had been approved in December 2016 by Nawaz Sharif, who had also approved a grant for five annual fellowships for Pakistani PhD students. This programme is called the Professor Abdus Salam Fellowship.
Nuclear physicist Abdus Salam hailed from the Ahmadi community, whose members constitute a minority in Pakistan. Its members have faced persecution and were declared non-Muslims in Pakistan through a constitutional amendment in 1974.
“These people [Ahmadis] are a threat to this country, its Constitution and ideology. This situation is heading towards a dangerous point,” said Safdar in his diatribe against the community.
Pakistan was created with an ideology to protect the finality of Prophethood [Khatm-i-Naboowat] so Islam is practised here, the PML-N leader said.
He then criticised the renaming of QAU’s physics centre after Dr Salam, whom he called “a controversial figure that has been termed an infidel in light of the Constitution”.
The legislator added that “we will not like any such institution associated with him.”
Calling for ‘action’ against the community, Safdar, a former military serviceman, said he wanted to bring a resolution in the National Assembly calling for a “ban on recruitment of Qadianis [Ahmadis] in the armed forces”.
“Because their’s is a false religion, in which there is no concept of jihadfor Allah,” said Safdar, who continued his harangue against the community uninterrupted by other members of the House.
Safdar then urged JI lawmaker Sahibzada Tariqullah to bring forth a resolution against the renaming of the QAU physics centre, adding that after that he will table the resolution to ban recruitment of Ahmadis in the country’s armed forces.
Read: A vulnerable minority
Safdar referred to the appointment of and promotion of military officers who he said were members of the Ahmadi community and “could not be trusted” with the responsibility of guarding the country’s frontiers. He further said that government servants should be made to sign a declaration that they swear by the idea of Khatm-i-Naboowat.
“We have faith in Khatm-i-Naboowat. This is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a country of 220 million people…I call Zulfikar Ali Bhutto a shaheed because he protected the idea of finality of prophethood and was hanged for doing so.”
Safdar is not the first lawmaker to raise objections to the renaming of QAU’s physics centre after Dr Abdus Salam. Earlier, Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) chief Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani had said that changing the department’s name would not set what he called the right precedent.
Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims in Pakistan through a constitutional amendment in 1974 during the tenure of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
This measure was later followed with Gen Ziaul Haq making it a punishable offence for Ahmadis to call themselves Muslim or to refer to their faith as Islam.
Ahmadis are also banned from preaching as well as from travelling to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage. They are also not allowed to publish any material propagating their faith.
Members of the community have often been targeted in gun attacks. An attack on two Ahmadi places of worship in May 2010 which was carried out by suicide bombers led to 80 deaths.
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