HRCP: Government Should Appeal IHC Ruling on Declaration of Faith

HRCP: Government Should Appeal IHC Ruling on Declaration of Faith

On March 9, 2018, the Islamabad High Court announced its verdict on a case concerning controversial amendments made to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath in the 2017 Elections Act. The court ordered that it was critical that all citizens be easily identifiable by their faith and that applicants for public offices would need to declare their beliefs before being considered eligible for any jobs.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, interpreted to Article 5 of the Constitution to mean that it was “mandatory” for every citizen, Muslim or non-Muslim, to “declare their true faith”, otherwise they could be guilty of “betraying the State” and “exploiting the Constitution.” The Judge also expressed his alarm that referred to ‘one of the minorities’ as being those who were “often mistaken for being Muslims” due to their names and general attire and that this was wrong as it would “lead them to gain access to dignified and sensitive posts, along with benefits.”

In a recent press release the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan asked the federal government to appeal this decision of the court.

The HRCP “is appalled by the recent IHC ruling that makes a declaration of faith mandatory for government and semi-government job applicants, including for the armed forces, judiciary and the civil services. This ruling has serious repercussions for all religious minorities, not least the Ahmadiyya community. Requiring a faith declaration for computerized national identity cards, passports, birth certificates and entry into voter lists will further choke the capacity of minorities to exercise their fundamental rights. These requirements will only enable and deepen institutional discrimination against minority communities.”

The HRCP noted that “it was he state’s responsibility to protect all its citizens, regardless of their ethnic, religious and regional identities. The honourable court’s ruling, it cautioned, could lead to an increase in instances of aggression and violence against the Ahmadiyya community in particular. The consequences of this ruling could be deadly for members of this community, given their already precarious personal safety situation in the country.”

HRCP on expulsion of Pashtun and Baloch students by Punjab university administration

For the last few days a large number of Pashtun and Baloch students of Punjab University have been observing a sit-in outside the office of the vice chancellor, demanding the administration restore their fellows expelled recently. Their argument that they are being discriminated against simply because of their ethnicity is cause for tremendous concern.

In January 2018 a clash between different student groups at Punjab University’s Quaid e Azam campus in Lahore resulted in cases of terrorism being registered against a number of students and over 200 students were arrested. The majority of these students were Pashtun and Baloch students.

In a recent press release the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan expressed “grave concern” over these actions of the administration of the Punjab University. Soon after the incident the university administration followed up by sending show cause notices to these students and suspended some of them in February 2018. The arrested students were eventually released on bail and were promised that the terrorism related charges would be dropped.

However, as the HRCP statement points out: “The cases that were registered against the arrested students are still in effect and the bail of the students, who were released, can be cancelled at any time which can result in their arrest.”

Further, “The students demand to be treated with respect and any campaigns against the Pashtun and Baloch students branding them as being “Anti-Pakistan” in the university should be taken notice of by the administration, which should further ensure that such campaigns are not allowed in the university campuses. The impression that the university administration has been targeting Pashtun and Baloch students because of their ethnic identities is cause for grave concern.”

Pakistan: Tyranny of the religious majority

Rafi Aamer

Justice Shaukat Siddiqui of Islamabad High Court in Pakistan ordered this past Friday that all citizens of Pakistan will be required to disclose their faith upon joining any state institution.

In his essay titled On Liberty, John Stuart Mill argued that if an individual’s right to hold an unpopular view is not protected, a democracy can become a tyranny of the majority. In Pakistan, it is becoming extremely difficult to have a faith that is different from the majority making Pakistan a tyranny of the religious majority.
From the very beginning, Pakistani minorities have been seeing a constantly shrinking space for them. One of the hardest hit minorities in Pakistan is Ahmadiyya community (derogatorily called Qadianis). They have been on the mercy of the Muslim majority of Pakistan since the very early days of Pakistan. Apart from frequent hate attacks against Ahmadi individuals, a large number of Ahmadis were killed in the 1953 and 1974 riots.

In 1974, in quite an unprecedented move in the history of modern parliamentary democracy, Pakistani parliament declared members of Ahmadiyya community to be non-Muslims. To make their lives further difficult, the martial law regime of General Zia ul Haq, in violation of Article 18 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, enacted Ordinance XX in 1984 which prohibits Ahmadis, among other things, calling their places of worship masjid, reciting the Kalima and greeting others with saying Assalamo Alaykum. These laws have created a culture of intolerance and hatred towards Ahmadis in Pakistan. Many Pakistanis are found offering justifications for these laws. Through an organized propaganda campaign, Ahmadiyya community has been dubbed as anti-Pakistan despite producing some of the most distinguished individuals both in the civil services and the armed forces of Pakistan. Due to that propaganda campaign, hatred towards Ahmadis and mistrust about them permeates all levels of the society. According to a study conducted by Tariq Rahman in 2009, the teachers and students of elite schools of Pakistan believed that Ahmadis did not deserve much of civil rights.

The verdict referred to at the top of this article by Islamabad High Court was of a case concerning a recent controversial constitutional amendment regarding Khatm-e-Nabuwat; the very issue that was used to declare Ahmadis to be non-Muslims. In a bizarre interpretation of Article 5 of the constitution of Pakistan that demands loyalty of the citizens to the state, the judge decreed that not disclosing one’s faith is being disloyal to the state. He ordered every citizen to disclose their true faith upon joining the civil services, the armed forces and the judiciary. One fails to understand what the faith of a person has to do with performing his/her duties. The judge expressed the fear that by not disclosing one’s faith, “they” can gain access to sensitive posts. There has never been any evidence of Ahmadis or members of any other minority being involved in anti-state activities. It is quite unfortunate that a judge of a high court is as gullible to mere propaganda as a common man in Pakistan. Justice Siddiqui also ordered that the faith of all citizens must be mentioned on all state-issued documents including the birth certificates. The judge did not specify how to ask newborn babies their faith so it can be recorded on the birth certificate.

All of this flies in the face of fundamental human rights. The freedom of expression includes the freedom of non-expression. No one should be forced to reveal personal information that can be used to discriminate against them. In an intolerant culture where minorities are targeted with impunity, where churches are burnt down and Christians are burnt alive by violent mobs, where underage Hindu girls are forcibly converted and married to Muslim men in an institutionalized manner, the verdict of Islamabad High Court is tantamount to exposing the minorities of Pakistan to even more persecution. This reminds one of the Nazi party ordering Jews to wear a distinctive badge on their dresses to identify themselves. What is next? A Pakistani holocaust?

Pirs and Power Politics in Pakistan?

Members of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan far right Islamist political party shout slogans during a sit-in in Rawalpindi, Pakistan November 10, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz


Pakistan’s march forward as an ideological state based on Islam have resulted in a constitutional set up that discriminates against minorities, an educational system that teaches entire generations to see non-Sunni Pakistani Muslims as ‘others’ and a society that believes it has the right to deliver instant justice to any supposed blasphemer or unbeliever.

It has also provided both political and social power to religious ideologues of all hues, from Hafiz Saeed to Khadim Hussain Rizvi and Pir Hameeduddin Sialvi. In a recent piece noted analyst Khaled Ahmed has referred to this phenomenon as “a mental asylum broken loose.”

As Ahmed notes: “Pakistan has fallen afoul of the Lovers of the Prophet who look funny but who can gather large rural crowds marching into cities hating the luxury of sinful living. Last year, the Barelvi Beast came out as Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (“Here I am O Holy Prophet!”) and paraded an abusive scoundrel, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, as the millennial defender of the Prophet PBUH who would bring the government down, which he didn’t, but got to cause a rift between the all-powerful army and the elected government crippled by the Supreme Court for not being sadiq (truthful) and ameen (honest) like the Prophet PBUH under Article 62 of the Constitution.”

Further: “There are far too many rich religious leaders with nothing to do who hate democracy as an alien system forced on the people to take them away from Islam. They fatten on the shrines that stud Pakistan’s countryside and were once the benign repository of singing-and-dancing fakirs embedded in South Asia’s culture of peaceful coexistence. Imagine if the custodian of the shrine of Nizamuddin Auliya were to gather his disciples and march on New Delhi threatening universal annihilation.”

Ahmed ends his piece by noting: “Everyone wins except Pakistan.”

Return of Memogate: There Are Better Ways For SC To Generate Media Headlines

Husain Haqqani outside court

Supreme Court has resumed the decaying corpse of memo gate case for one last flogging. Announced on Thursday that SC has issued arrest warrants for the ex-Ambassador and a request has been delivered to Interpol for ‘red warrants’ against him. This is nothing new as the same performance was given in 2012 also. This time, however, the script writers seem to be setting the Supreme Court up to play the fool.

First, just consider how this case has managed to be dragged up again:

More recently, Haqqani’s name had echoed in the apex court while a three-judge bench heard a set of petitions moved by PTI chief Imran Khan and a group of citizens in connection with the right of overseas Pakistanis to participate in the democratic process.

The case had reminded the chief justice of Haqqani.

“Should we also give him the right to vote?” the chief justice had wondered.

“Why don’t we issue him [Haqqani] a notice and summon him to face the Memogate case,” the chief justice had then said.

Later, while reviewing previous progress on the case, the bench had observed that, following his resignation, Haqqani had left the country on the assurance that he would return, but never did.

So we are told that whole case was completely forgotten by the Chief Justice like an aging, absent minded uncle until listening about voting rights of overseas Pakistanis? Is this what will be explained to Interpol when they ask why there is a new request after five years? We forgot? And Interpol will take this seriously?

Actually, there is already a problem with Interpol taking our requests seriously, isn’t there? Already last year Interpol rejected FIA’s request for a ‘red warrant’ against Altaf Hussain. Next Interpol rejected FIA’s request for a ‘red warrant’ against Brahumdagh Bugti.

It should also be noted that Interpol has rejected FIA’s request for a ‘red warrant’ against Gen. Musharraf. Actually, Interpol rejected this request not once – but three separate timesSpeaking of Musharraf, has the Court forgotten about him upon suddenly remembering Haqqani? Is it that our Justices are only able to remember one case at a time?

The futility of requesting ‘red warrants’ against political opponents is obviously no secret. International law experts have also already noted that it is impossible to legally force Haqqani to return against his will. If not, why doesn’t the government appeal to US authorities for mutual assistance? Legal experts have explained that “A request for mutual assistance between law enforcement authorities will, in any case, have to go through a U.S. court where the Pakistan government will need to prove that a crime has been committed,” adding that “Even if Haqqani is belatedly charged with something other than treason, his lawyers in the U.S. or any other country will claim that the charge is ‘a relative political offence'”. Whatever narrative they have tried to create within Pakistan, the rest of the world simply doesn’t buy it.

So what is the point of the SC’s latest action unless it is only to generate breaking news tickers for Pakistani media? And why have our Justices suddenly remembered this forgotten affair? Could it be because we are once again facing serious threats of international isolation? Is it purely by coincidence that this announcement is made soon after it is reported that US, UK, Germany and France have moved to place Pakistan on the global terrorist-funding watch list? Perhaps our esteemed Justices could do some good for the country and remember another forgotten case – the case of Ehsanullah Ehsan, an actual traitor who has actually waged war against Pakistan and is responsible for killing actual Pakistanis.

I promise, they will get some headlines from remembering this, too!