Pakistan has the dubious distinction of being one of the worst countries to live in if you are a minority, religious or ethnic. While non-Muslim minorities have faced threats for decades, and Ahmadis are not recognized as Muslims, since the 1980s Shias have been attacked and killed. In recent years, attacks on Shias have increased as was witnessed by the anti-Shia protests in Karachi in September 2020.
One year, later, a video of Muhammad Ahmad Ludhianvi, current chief of the proscribed sectarian group Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’at (ASWJ) is circulating on social media where Ludhianvi “recalls the environment of fear his organisation had successfully created in the 1990s for the Shia Muslim community in Pakistan. Ludhianvi, who is addressing a public meeting, was lamenting that his organization stood alone in its movement against “enemies of Islam. This organization has been fighting alone, no one joined us. This organization was left alone by even religious scholars. I do not say this with resentment, it was in fact a blessing.”
Ludhianvi further stated: “Even though we, with a very limited organization, ran this movement alone – and those who remember 1990s will confirm what I am saying – we reduced the enemies of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) to the level where they removed their flags from their homes. We reduced them to such a level that they removed plaques carrying their names Naqvi, Takwi from their houses. We reduced them to the level where they stopped wearing black on their way to demonstrations; these black clothes would be packed in shopping bags. They wore white wear clothes on the way to their demonstrations, then changed into black and then returned wearing white again. If we, a limited organization, could confront such a powerful force and reduce them to this level, we would not be seeing this day if our ulema had stood with us.”
Three years ago, Ludhianvi was removed from the Fourth Schedule – a section of the Anti-Terrorism Act under which someone suspected of terrorism is kept under observation. As with other groups, whether sectarian or Kashmir-focused, it appears that the Pakistani deep state simply lets them go underground for a short period of time and then allows them to return to their old ways.
At a time when Pakistan would like the globally community to view it positively, having someone like Ludhianvi spewing venom is not the way to do so.