LAHORE: The government as well as the opposition served to incite hatred against the Ahmediyya community with the amendment to the Election Reforms Act of 2017, said a press release issued by the Jamaat Ahmediyya over the weekend.“The term oath was replaced with declaration in the Electoral Reforms Bill and a difficult situation was created for the Ahmadis as the change is being used to stop the Ahmadis from taking part in politics,” it said, adding that the community members were being denied their constitutional right to register for voting under pressure from extremists. “The preparation for separate electoral lists being prepared specifically for the Ahmadis in Pakistan is the worst kind of discrimination being faced by the members of the community. On the pretext of their religious beliefs, the Ahmadis have been successfully barred from being a part of mainstream politics in Pakistan,” it said.The statement came in the wake of an annual report summarising persecution faced by the minority community during 2017. The statement said, “There is a baseless and unconstitutional ban imposed on the publication of the Ahmadiyya literature and periodicals in the province of Punjab. This is an unforgiveable violation of freedom of speech being committed by the Punjab government. The Ahmadis have been denied access even to the peaceful literature of their founder.”The statement said that baseless cases were registered against 77 Ahmedis under discriminatory laws in 2017. “Lower courts have badly failed to fulfill the requirements of justice by announcing penalties for those imprisoned under anti-Ahmadi laws.” Additionally, the statement condemned ‘baseless and foul reporting against the community in Urdu media’. “Throughout the year, propaganda against the community was printed in the form of 3,936 news- items and more than 532 articles in 2017.”Ahmadiyya community spokesperson Saleemuddin was quoted as saying in the statement that the government had surrendered to the extremists by making discriminatory laws against the Ahmadis. “The draconian laws of 1984 are an open violation of basic human rights. They are also against the ideology of Pakistan as enunciated by the founder Quaid-e-Azam. These laws should be immediately repealed, and basic human rights of hundreds of thousands of Pakistani Ahmadis should be restored.” Saleemuddin said that since the enactment of the 1984 ordinance up till December 2017, 264 Ahmadis had been killed because of their faith. “There have been 379 attempts on the lives of Ahmadis in Pakistan. As many as 27 places of worship have been brought down, while 33 have been sealed. The opponents have taken control of 17 places of worship using force. Graves of 39 Ahmadis were dug up and thus desecrated soon after the burial of the deceased, and 66 Ahmadis were not allowed to be buried in the graveyards shared by people of various faiths.”Saleemuddin said that even in Rabwah, where 95 percent of the residents were Ahmadis, the community was not allowed to conduct any religious gathering in 2017. He said even the sports competition planned by the community were not allowed to be conducted publicly. On the other hand, he said, an anti-Ahmadiyya organisation was allowed to hold there gatherings in Rabwah. The spokesperson said that the community had paid a handsome amount of money to the government to regain control of its education institutions nationalized in 1970s, however, none of those educational institutions had yet been handed back to the community.“The hate campaign against the Ahmadis that is fueled by a nexus of the government and religious extremists continues unabated for decades now. Consequently, the life, wealth and honour of the Ahmadis has become so unsafe in their own country. Ahmadis are being denied the most basic human rights in Pakistan,” he said, urging the government to honour its international commitments as well as the text of the constitution.Published in Daily Times, April 30th 2018.