Siraj-ul-Haq is a man who appears to be hitting back. For while addressing a youth convention in Peshawar recently, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief spoke of the need for an Islamic revolution to transform Pakistan into a truly ideological nation. And although he refrained from talking in terms of bully-boy tactics by stressing how the journey must start with the self — the message could not have been clearer. At least when seen through the eyes of the Ahmadiyya. After all, Haq was not best pleased with a group of LUMS students. Their crimebeing to visit Rabwah in central Punjab; the country’s only Ahmadi-majority city. The purpose of the trip was to demonstrate solidarity with this most beleaguered group as part of a university community project aimed at promoting peace, tolerance and acceptance of Pakistan’s religious minorities. This was sufficient to prompt Haq to take rhetorical aim at the Ahmadis. He accused the latter of conspiring against the country by spreading their influence in education institutes. Not only does this rob the students from one of Pakistan’s most prestigious universities of any kind of agency — it conveniently casts the Ahmadiyya in the role of aggressor. It is regrettable that in the present climate, which has seen a resurgence of the religious right, such basic acts of good will negatively impact communities long under siege. This is not to suggest an interruption of such informal initiatives. Rather, it is to call on the mainstream political leadership to come together to stand with this group. After all, it is the absence of collective action on this front that risks the security of all: religious minorities, human right defenders and even politicians themselves. Meaning that the only winners are the hardliners. And if this continues, Pakistan will never realise the dream of pluralism. Thus the Imran Khan government must take the lead over the next five years to right the wrongs of the immediate past. From not supporting the then PMLN government over the standoff with the Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) over a clerical error that was deemed to afford the Ahmadis undue relief from institutionalised persecution. To a sitting MPA from that very regime denouncing this minority group on the floor of the National Assembly unchallenged. To a High Court judge essentially calling for their religious profiling. If this does not happen, Pakistan will have suffered yet another non-inclusive set-up at the helm. * Published in Daily Times, October 21st 2018.