By Zahid Hussain
Pakistan’s minority Ahmadi community are boycotting the July 25 general election over a discriminatory electoral list.
“Under the current circumstances for Ahmadis to cast a vote, they first have to distance themselves from the Holy Prophet of Islam and this is something that no Ahmadi can countenance,” Ahmadi spokesman Saleem ud Din said on July 18.
“Though elections are ostensibly being held under a joint electoral system, there is, however, a separate voter list for Ahmadis. The process for the registration of votes and the preparation of voter lists is now completed. The forms issued for the registration of votes include a religion box and an oath declaration.”
He said that a separate voter list prepared for Ahmadis based on religious differences is an example of discrimination
“Currently there is one voter list that includes all religious groups including Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Zoroastrians and Sikhs, whereas in the case of Ahmadis a separate voter list is being prepared bearing the titles Qadiani Men/Women,” the spokesman said.
“This discriminatory treatment on the basis of religion is a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise the Ahmadis of Pakistan from the electoral process by to all intents and purposes denying them their right of vote.
“Such prejudicial behavior is an open violation of Pakistani Ahmadis as citizens of the state and goes against the vision of the founding father of the country, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and contravenes both the constitution and the joint electoral system.”
Ahmadis, who call themselves Muslims, have been declared non-Muslims under Pakistani law. The legislation has seen the community subjected to persecution.
In April, the Ahmadi community released an annual report detailing growing hostilities against the minority sect.
It said that 77 Ahmadis were booked under discriminatory religious laws in 2017 and nine were in prison on faith-related allegations. Four Ahmadis were murdered in hate crimes last year.
Five Ahmadis were shot and injured in incidents of violence in Punjab in July.