The Second Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan and Ordinance XX declares Ahmadis to be non-Muslims and further deprives them of religious rights. That’s the issue which returns to haunt Pakistan from time to time. The Imran Khan government accepted Princeton economist Atif Mian’s resignation from the nation’s Economic Advisory Council after it came under pressure from radical elements within Pakistan. The 18-member Council was set up by the new Prime Minister to facilitate the best economic advice to the government at the current time of severe economic crisis. Atif Mian is an Ahmadi and relented to the pressure to allow the Council to function.
The Ahmadis follow all Articles of Faith and practices of Islam. However, in addition they owe allegiance to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (MGA) who in 1889, with belief in him being the expected Messiah of Islam, founded the sect to revitalise the faith and deliver it from its challenges. They opened themselves to the allegation that they do not believe in the finality of the Prophet as the last Messenger of God. They claim MGA was sent to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice and peace just as it is predicted in Islam but they have never questioned the finality of the Prophet’s word. There are four million Ahmadis in Pakistan and 10-20 million around the world.
Although Pakistan professes that radical belief is sporadic and not translated into political strength as witnessed by the election results such practices as keeping the Ahmadis virtually excommunicated from mainstream society confirms that nothing has changed and that Pakistan’s politics and society are yet embedded with deep set radical ideas on faith, all counterproductive and sometimes alien even in the Islamic world. Imran Khan, despite his education and earlier supposed egalitarian image, rode the sentiments of radical belief to gain political legitimacy. He has now to dismount from the tiger he chose to ride if he wishes international legitimacy, which will help Pakistan overcome its deep set economic woes.
Even its closest ally China is apprehensive of radical Islamic ideology which helps fuel unrest in its western region of Xinjiang. The internal pulls and the external pressures on Imran Khan are unlikely to allow him to settle down to overcoming the serious challenges within. His political inexperience remains a liability and having attained power he is unlikely to squander his gains through risky experiments. Pakistan is unlikely to see internal peace and quiet under Imran in near future and further societal turbulence could well ignite fires in the region where a tenuous peace holds.
The author is former Commander, Srinagar-based 15 Corps