JUST-IS denounces Political Terror against the Ahmadiyya in Pakistan

Desecration of yet another Ahmadi Mosque in Pakistan

In no uncertain terms, JUST-IS (A Network of Interfaith Solidarity Activists against Global Militarism and for Social Justice) harshly denounces the recent spate of attacks against houses of worship of the minority Ahmadiyya religious community in Pakistan. The most recent one, https://countercurrents.org/2023/05/desecration-of-yet-another-ahmadi-mosque-in-pakistan/, has been the most heinous.

Of course, mainstream Muslim orthodoxy has had a profound theological problem with certain beliefs of the Ahmadiyya community since the latter emerged in the late 19th century. The overwhelming majority of that conflict involved polemical debates both under British colonial rule and after the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947. But occasionally, riots led by religious hardliners have broken out and violence has ensued.

Nevertheless, it was not until 1974 that the most egregious step was undertaken to virtually permit state-sanctioned official popular persecution of the Ahmadis. It was that year that the country’s ‘progressive’ leader instituted a law that officially declared the Ahmadiyya community as non-Muslims. And it has been a sordid story since then, with periodic targeting of Ahmadis taking place time and time again.

However, there is a central context to what is going on right now. A brief review of history will do us some good here. The conservative, orthodox, but mainly non-violent sections of Islam in Pakistan, mostly young children and young adults in the madrassas (religious seminaries) of Pakistan in the 1970s, were deliberately forced into becoming repugnant forms of fundamentalist and sectarian groups directly created by the Pakistani state, the Saudis, and the entire Western political establishment (but especially Washington) in the late 1970s and 1980s to accomplish their secular aim of defeating the ‘evil commies’ in Afghanistan. As one of the architects of this maddening policy admitted later, National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, Zbignew Berzinski: “What was more important in the worldview of history? The Taliban or the fall of the Soviet Empire?” A few stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War.” Sadly, his own country suffered the blowback from this policy a few tragic times, while the tragedy of the infliction of horrendous harm by these groups on not just Ahmadis, but other religious minorities and especially those Muslims not considered Muslim enough (the latter being the overwhelming majority of victims), has been a daily experience for Pakistanis since that time.

The US’s immoral and illegal ‘War on Terror,’ and specifically its ‘Af-Pak’ theatre of that war, only compounded this problem later by fueling militancy, terrorism, and suicide bombings in Pakistan for the first two decades in of the 21st century.

However, the crucial aspect to also emphasize is how the Pakistani national security state, most of the time in cahoots with a hopelessly corrupt and venal political class, has instrumentalized these violent, sectarian militant groups to target individuals and groups that the Pakistani state has deemed to be a threat to the status quo of gross inequality and oppression.

And herein lies the context of what is so patently obvious to any intellectually honest observer right now. As the country has witnessed its most historic popular mobilization for social justice and against the crooks in both the military and civilian elites for an entire year now after the ouster of the most popular politician in the country, former Prime Minister Imran Khan who was ousted in a regime change operation, all of a sudden – after virtually five years of barely hearing a blimp of any serious threat coming from these groups – Pakistanis are now being bombarded by state propaganda of the rising threat of extremism and militancy.

So, at precisely the point where the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis want fresh elections which everyone knows Imran Khan’s party will sweep, the current ‘hybrid regime’ of the national security state/military high command and their twelve-party coalition allies are screaming ‘national emergency’ and attempting their best to deflect attention away from popular mobilization for elections and social justice, and towards the ostensible rising tide of militancy.

The government itself has embarrassingly spent all of this past year in utterly bogus charges against Khan to arrest him. But even more than that, openly speaking of assassinating him! Khan barely survived one assassination attempt already, and the state blamed an ‘Islamic extremist’ who supposedly believed that Khan is a ‘Jewish agent,’ is not really Muslim, etc.

Just two months ago, Pakistanis were told that the Pakistani Taliban are now miraculously making a comeback after being definitively beaten five years ago and that the country really needs to be focused on that rather than anything else like, say, the massive inflation and impoverishment engrossing the nation.

Now, the leading extremist movement behind the specific targeting of the Ahmadiyya community is a group known as the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). By now, it has become crystal clear that this group is the handmaiden fascist brownshirts of the national security state itself. They are summoned at a dime’s notice to riot and protest and kill whenever the military top brass demands.

And that is exactly what is going on now. Both the military high command (not the entire military itself, the ranks in which Khan is deeply popular) and the twelve-party coalition government are ordering their TLP storm-troopers to both target the Ahmadiyyas, and what senior military officials say with high probability, go for another shot at an assassination attempt on Khan – again, because Khan does not denounce the Ahmadi community for their views and is deeply committed to religious pluralism in Pakistan. Some of his first actions when coming to power was restoring and renovating sites of religious minorities that had either been desecrated or were in disrepair.

To emphasize again, we at JUST-IS believe in taking the strongest possible positions on these abominable acts of extremist terror against religious houses of worship.

However, we are a group that will never allow ruling elites to fool us by stating that these are unfortunate theological/religious issues within society, rather than what’s the true reality: the ruling elites’ own creation and weaponization of these extremist groups to target movements for progressive social change, such as the historic one happening right now in Pakistan.


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