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Ahmadis Boycott Upcoming Elections in Pakistan

Categories: South Asia, Pakistan, Elections, Ethnicity & Race, Governance, Human Rights, Politics, Religion

This post is part of our Special Coverage Pakistan Votes 2013 [1].

The Ahmadi community [2] in Pakistan, comprising of 200,000 members, has decided to boycott the upcoming elections [3]. The decision has been taken to protest the state's discrimination towards the community. They have been boycotting the election process since 1985 [4] when Ahmadi voters were put in the list of religious minorities.

Back in 2002, Pakistani government decided to issue separate list of voters [5] for the Ahmadis. These lists, updated and published by the Election Commission of Pakistan for May 11 elections, contain addresses of the Ahmadi community members. In the past, a number of attacks have been launched [6] on properties owned by Ahmadis. So the list of addresses puts the community members at a great risk.

Pakistan flag

The white in Pakistan's flag denotes minorities.
Image Courtesy: Ahmeddiya Times [7]

Commenting on this state of affairs, a notable Pakistan blogger Kidvai [8] wrote a post titled ‘What – Me Worry?’ [9]‘ where he wrote:

Ahmadis cannot freely vote in Pakistan due to the discriminatory processes introduced in the election related laws which climaxed during the regime of former dictator General Pervez Musharraf. He bowed to Islamists’ demands (as did Z A Bhutto!) and issued a Presidential Executive Order, effectively barring Ahmadis from participating in the election process. The Executive Order No. 15 of 2002 excluded Ahmadis from the country's joint voter roll, requiring they be registered on a supplementary voter roll, and necessitated that Ahmadis must sign a declaration to renounce their faith in Islamic tenets.

Pak Votes (@PakVotes [10]), an elections monitoring initiative, recently kickstarted a Twitter discussion on the issue. The account posted on April 22:

@PakVotes: [11] Some 200,000 members of Ahmadi community will boycott election in protest at their treatment by the authorities. #PakVotes [12] via. @dawn_com [13]

In response, one of the users launched a tirade of abusive comments towards the Ahmadi community. He (@iAtifAli [14]) wrote in one of his tweets,

@iAtifAli [15]: @PakVotes [10] @dawn_com [13] Acha Hua.. Inn par Lanat ho Khuda ki .. inkee zarurat b nahee hay (That's great. God's curse be on these people, we don't need them.)

Sadly, this behavior is reflected in a majority of Pakistan's population. Ahmadis are deemed as non-Muslims and often have to suffer violence at the hands of the general population. In the past, a number of such incidents have been highlighted by citizen journalists. However, state seems either incapable or unwilling to attend to the issues.

Imran Khan recently stated [16] that his party, PTI, would work to safeguard the rights of the minorities and would provide equal rights to everyone. According to him, PTI stands for justice for everyone. However, it remains to be seen whether or not Khan can live up to these claims given his party's right wing leanings.