Ahmadis, Aga Khanis in Pak rightwingers’ crosshairs

Mohammad Shehzad

Islamabad, January 4:

Ahmadis and the Agha Khan Foundation (AKF) are the targets of the rightwing elements in Pakistan. Ahmadis are under fire because the government has deleted the column of religion from the new machine readable passports. Earlier, the passports had the column of religion and the Ahmadis were described as such. They are non-Muslims according to the Constitution of Pakistan and not allowed entry in the Harmain Sharif for Hajj.

AKF is under fire because the government has handed it over the education board. Now AKF will take the examinations at secondary level. The Agha Khanis are labeled as Ahmadis by the rightwingers. Daily Ummat, on December 22, wrote in its editorial that Ahmadis are not Muslims and this must be mentioned on the passports. “A number of incidents have proved that the present government is ridiculing Islam — the education system has been ‘mortgaged’ to the Agha Khan Foundation; General Musharraf has been making fun of ‘beard’ and ‘hijab’ and now the religion column has been deleted from the passports to give Ahmadis the Muslim status.” Mohammad Anis Rasheed wrote in Daily Islam that perverting the society is AKF agenda. “Our rulers have decided to purge religion and moral values from the education system to give rise to a society that has nothing to do with Islam, Koran, and the precepts of the Holy Prophet.” The rightwingers had had a private referendum on the Agha Khan Board (AKB) according to which 854,000 people had rejected the AKB. There were only 64,000 votes in AKB’s support. The referendum was organised in Sindh by Islami Jamiat-e-Talba, student wing of Jamat-e-Islami. According to sources, some closest ‘allies’ of Musharraf are against the deletion of the religious column from the passports. The president of Pakistan Muslim League Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and the federal minister for religious affairs Ejaz ul Haq are one of them. They are expressing their reservation in a very light tone. Sources have also confirmed that the government is under pressure from the US, some powerful western countries as well as the donors about the religion-column issue. The possibility of its restoration is bleak.