The Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan, numbering close to four million, are not only treated like pariahs in their life but also desecrated, dug up and humiliated after their death.
The recent case of Punjab Police destroying about 50 tombstones in an Ahmadi cemetery is a shocking example of human depravity. The reason for destroying and damaging the cemetery was the use of Quoranic verses on some of them. Some local Sunnis had complained to the police about the same, which according to Pakistani law was a criminal offense.
Although leading human rights groups in Pakistan have condemned the act, the state has chosen to remain silent and complicit. The graves were desecrated in Hafizabad district of Punjab on February 4 and 5, 2022. This is not the first time Ahmadi graves have been desecrated. Earlier, (June 6, 2021) when a grave for a deceased Ahmadi woman was being dug up in Sheikhupura district, Punjab, a mob of local Sunni Muslims tried to prevent the burial.
Media reports have shown that in over a year, about 150 graves of Ahmadis have been desecrated in Pakistan. Most of these desecrations are caused by local administrations who argue that Ahmadis were at fault for using Islamic symbols. Pakistani Constitution forbids Ahmadiyya community from using Islamic signs and symbols. In fact, police have gone out of their way to punish the Ahmadis for daring to inscribe holy verses on their gravestones. Last year, in Sharaqpur Sharif in Punjab, 11 Ahmadis were charged with blasphemy for inscribing Quoranic verses on gravestones.
While there is hardly any official record of such desecrations, details maintained by the Ahmadi community show 39 Ahmadi corpses getting exhumed and 69 burials denied from 1984 to 2018.
Although Ahmadis are as such Muslims as other sects, their belief in their founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad has turned them into `enemies of Islam`. A few days after Pakistan’s independence, fierce anti-Ahmadi riots broke out in Punjab, leading ultimately to the rise of military and militant Islam in politics. In 1984, President General Zia ul-Haq promulgated Ordinance XX introducing Ahmadiyya-specific laws to prohibit them from indulging in “anti-Islamic activities” by forbidding them from referring to themselves as Muslims or preaching their belief.
Over the years, Ahmadis have become the most hated and humiliated Muslim sect in Pakistan. Thousands have been attacked by mobs and scores have fled the country. By law, they cannot call the azan, cannot use Islamic terms and titles, read Islamic texts for prayers, name their places of worship ‘masjid’ and greet people in the Islamic manner. All these are acts punishable with three years in jail and a fine.
Now the Sunnis are not allowing even the dead Ahmadis the honour of a decent burial in today’s Pakistan.