The 25th of December is an important day for Pakistan. It was this day, that our founder – the Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah – was born. Officially dubbed Jinnah’s day, many celebrate this day by remembering Jinnah’s enduring struggle for the freedom and equal rights for the minority Muslim community within United India.
Jinnah’s selfless struggle was driven by a passionate sense of respect for human freedom and equality. He dreamt of a State where there was no discrimination, and that stood firm on the values of tolerance, acceptance and pluralism.
It is well known that the Ahmadi Muslims played a very prominent role in the creation of Pakistan and its subsequent growth. Jinnah was a close friend of the second Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Bashirudin Mahmud Ahmad, who’s support he always enjoyed. It was at the Khalifa’s orders that the Ahmadi Imam Mr. Abdul Rahim Dard convinced Jinnah to return to India, after Jinnah bid farewell to Indian politics and moved to London. It was another Ahmadi, Sir Zafarullah Khan, who drafted the famous Pakistan Resolution that became the documentary basis for the demand for Pakistan. Jinnah appointed him the country’s first foreign minister. The support for Jinnah was so strongly emphasized by the Ahmadiyya leadership that Ahmadi Muslim candidates fighting from certain constituencies withdrew their candidacy in support of Jinnah’s Muslim League.
The overwhelming support from the Ahmadis did not end with the creation of the State. At a time when Pakistan needed every help it could, the Ahmadis gave everything they had for its growth and goodwill. Sir Zafarullah Khan continued to promote a progressive image of Pakistan on the international Stage. His disciplined stance on various issues and his impressive advocacy won Pakistan the first Presidency at the UN General Assembly in 1962. The country’s only Nobel Laureate, Dr Abdus Salam, also belonged to the Ahmadiyya Community. Another prominent Ahmadi, Mirza Muzaffar Ahmad, who was the Federal Finance Minister under Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan, played key role in the economic development of Pakistan in the 1960s and 70s. His efforts led directly to the success of the Mangla and Tarbela dam projects. Ahmadi Muslims were also at the forefront in defending Pakistan in times of war; General Akhtar Malik, General Abdul Ali Malik are a few names that come to mind. In fact, the only Pakistani general to have ever laid his life during combat was an Ahmadi, General Iftikhar Janjua.
On the other hand, most hard-line clerics e.g. those belonging to the Ahrar Party (and the Jamaat-e-Islami) vehemently opposed Jinnah and his struggle. When they failed to stop Jinnah’s dream materialize, they turned to hurt the newly found State by continuing to fight his ideals and his vision of a pluralistic, tolerant and inclusive state. After much resilience, they were finally successful in hijacking this vision in 1974 when Jinnah’s comrades, the Ahmadis, were officially designated second class citizens in the State Constitution, and their profession of faith criminalized. The State gave in to the Mullahs and Pakistan has never since been the same. (Read: How Pakistan Drifted Away from Itself)
Almost 70 years after the realization of Pakistan, we can still see the same dynamic at play.
So while Pakistani Ahmadi Muslims world over – including the diaspora – are keeping a fast and praying for the progress and wellbeing of Jinnah’s Pakistan today, the Mullahs busy themselves fanning the flames of hate, intolerance and violence. They continue to endorse discrimination and bigotry of minorities – the very evil that led Jinnah to the demand for Pakistan.
And the Mullahs did not do this today in a small village mosque or a town hall. They incited hatred and fear of the Ahmadi Muslims on public Television.
On well-known hate-monger Mr. Aamir Liaquat’s morning show “Subh-e-Pakistan” today, a panel of Mullahs accused Pakistan’s peaceful and patriotic Ahmadi Muslims of backing terrorism in the country. Ahmadi Muslims were labelled “Jewish agents” and traitors. These Mullahs urged Muslims to let go of their differences and unite against and “recognize this root cause of terrorism” in the country.
It must be remembered that the last time Mr. Aamir Liaquat promoted anti-Ahmadi hate speech on the same GEO TV in 2008, three prominent Ahmadi leaders were gunned down in Pakistan. GEO TV and Mr. Liaquat never apologized for their clear role in incitement of this anti-Ahmadi violence.
Will we continue to be silent witnesses to such attacks on our patriotic – and already ostracized – communities? Will we wait for another tragedy in the wake of this opprobrious show? Or will we finally muster the courage to speak up and hold such hate-mongers – GEO TV and Aamir Liaquat in this case – accountable for their instigation of hate and violence? As responsible citizens and as members of Pakistan’s civil society, it is our duty – more than ever today – to side with Jinnah’s Pakistan. He fought for equal rights of a minority. So must we. Enough of hatred and violence spewed in OUR name. We must speak up and take Jinnah’s Pakistan back from its hijackers.
On this Jinnah’s day, we must make a clear choice. YOU must make a clear choice – an important choice between supporting Jinnah’s ideals and refusing to speak up in his support. Simply put, this is a choice between Jinnah and his enemies. If you are honest in celebrating this day in Jinnah’s name, let me see your protest. Let me hear your voice. Stand up and Reclaim Pakistan.