Both the Islamic socialist Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and the Muslim radical General Zia-ul-Haq enacted anti-Ahmadis law that are still in force.
by Massimo Introvigne — As we have seen in the previous articles, after the bloody Lahore riots in 1953, the Ahmadis went in Pakistan through a period in which, while they were still harassed and discriminated, they were somewhat protected from major violence.
Things changed with the rise to power of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Educated in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, this wealthy lawyer served as a minister in most of the military-controlled governments that ruled Pakistan since the coup of 1958. In 1967, having been excluded from the government of Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan, Bhutto founded a “socialist Islamic” political party called Pakistan People’s Party, whose motto was “Islam is our faith, democracy is our policy, socialism is our economy.” After the ruinous secession of Bangladesh of 1971, and Pakistan’s defeat in the war with India, the military called Bhutto, whose party enjoyed widespread national support, as the nation’s only hope to avoid further bloodshed. He served as President of Pakistan from 1971 to 1973, and as Prime Minister from 1973 to 1977.
Bhutto believed that his only way of surviving in the dangerous Pakistani political landscape was to make friends abroad. While his program for a Pakistani atomic bomb complicated his relations with the United States, he established close ties with the Soviet Union, and tried to position himself as a global Islamic leader by promoting the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) together with Saudi Arabia. He worked closely with King Faisal of Saudi Arabia until the latter was assassinated in 1975.
Although there were no Ahmadis in Saudi Arabia, King Faisal was a strict doctrinaire Muslim, and at the 1974 summit of the OIC hosted by Bhutto in Karachi he presented the request by the Saudi-led World Muslim League that anti-Ahmadi policies should be promoted in all Muslim countries. The well-publicized proposal led to anti-Ahmadi riots in Pakistan, which Bhutto fueled for his own political purposes, as he also needed the support of conservative Muslim clerics.
Bhutto then used the riots to introduce the Second Amendment to the new Constitution of Pakistan in 1974. Article 260 (3) was introduced, stating that, “A person who does not believe in the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophethood of MUHAMMAD (Peace be upon him), the last of the Prophets, or claims to be a Prophet, in any sense of the word or of any description whatsoever, after MUHAMMAD (Peace be upon him), or recognizes such a claimant as a Prophet or religious reformer, is not a Muslim for the purposes of the Constitution or law.” To avoid any doubt, the article then listed among non-Muslims the “persons of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group [meaning the majority and minority branch of the Ahmadiyya] (who call themselves ‘Ahmadis’ or by any other name).” As we have seen in previous articles, the main accusation of heresy against the Ahmadis is that they recognize their founder as a prophet (although their formula is “both a prophet and a follower of the Holy Prophet” [Muhammad]), while Islam teaches that there can be no prophet after Muhammad.
This policy did not save Bhutto from the growing opposition by different forces, including ultra-fundamentalist Islam. On July 5, 1977, Bhutto was arrested by military loyal to General Zia-ul-Haq, a Muslim radical Bhutto had himself appointed as Army Chief of Staff. He was later tried, sentenced to death, and executed on April 4, 1979.
Zia was the President of Pakistan from 1978 to August 17, 1988, when he died in an obscure plane crash that was declared the result of sabotage by Pakistani courts, although which domestic or foreign group was responsible for it was never ascertained.
The Zia years were the worst for the Ahmadis, as the military president launched an islamization campaign and aligned himself with the most conservative Muslim clerics. It was Zia who passed the laws punishing blasphemy with the death penalty, who are still in force and have been responsible for the Asia Bibi case and other incidents of great international resonance. And it was Zia who, on April 26, 1984, enacted the infamous Ordinance XX against the Ahmadis.
Ordinance XX stipulates inter alia that, “(1) Any person of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves ‘Ahmadis’ or by any other name) who by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation (a) refers to or addresses, any person, other than a Caliph or companion of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as ‘Ameer-ul-Mumineen,’ ‘Khalifatul- Mumineen,’ ‘Khalifa-tul-Muslimeen,’ ‘Sahaabi’ or ‘Razi Allah Anho’; (b) refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a wife of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as ‘Ummul-Mumineen’; (c) refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a member of the family ‘Ahle-bait’ of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as ‘Ahle-bait’; or (d) refers to, or names, or calls, his place of worship a ‘Masjid’ [mosque]; shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine. (2) Any person of the Qadiani group or Lahori group (who call themselves ‘Ahmadis’ or by any other name) who by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation refers to the mode or form of call to prayers followed by his faith as ‘Azan,’ or recites Azan as used by the Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine. (3) Any person of the Qadiani group, or Lahori group (who call themselves ‘Ahmadis’ or by any other name) calling himself a Muslim or preaching or propagating his faith; any person of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves ‘Ahmadis’ or by any other name), who directly or indirectly, poses himself as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.”
With Ordinance XX, which is still in force, Ahmadis were prohibited from using their religious language, which refers to themselves as “Muslims,” to their leaders as “khalifah,” and to their places of worship as “mosques,” and from preaching or propagating their faith. Pakistan claims that they are not forbidden to practice their religion, but in fact even this could be constructed by local courts as “outraging the religious feelings of Muslims,” or even as blasphemy, in this case leading to the death penalty. In 1985, General Zia added that Ahmadis can only vote in the elections for the seats reserved to religious minorities.
Zia arrested thousands of Ahmadis and called their religion “a cancer to be exterminated.” Not surprisingly, this provoked further riots, where Ahmadis mosques were desecrated and destroyed, several Ahmadis were killed, and even the bodies of deceased Ahmadis were taken out of their graves and thrown out from Muslim cemeteries.
The plane crash that terminated the life and presidency of Zia opened a political process that led to Benazir Bhutto, the daughter of the executed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, ascending to the position of Prime Minister on December 2, 1988. She promised democracy and human rights. But, as we will see in the next articles, the Ahmadis were disappointed again.
Source: Bitter Winter