By Manel Mselmi
A webinar with high level speakers was organised by the European Association for The Defense of Minorities to tackle the issue of Ahmadi faith in Pakistan and religious freedom in the region as well to fight against discrimination and marginalization of minorities.
Dr Marzia Balzani outlined evolution of Ahmadi faith, the community’s diasporic expanse and the community’s indispensable contribution to the creation of Pakistan. However, the challenges it faced in Pakistan also began with the state’s inception. Over the decades, the community has faced an institutionalised sense of marginalization to the extent that it has become impossible to profess one’s identity in the public sphere. From renaming of their town Rabwah, the presence of derogatory content in the school textbooks, disenfranchisement and even untouchability, she discussed the multidimensional nature of discriminations faced by the community.
Dr Maria Bastos explained the PTI government’s partisan role in exacerbating problems for the Ahmadis and even discussed her interactions with the Ahmadi families in Pakistan, which have in conditioned to live in securitized environments.
Recently, Pakistan and Indian government decided to open up the Kartarpur corridor for the Sikh pilgrims in India to visit the Kartarpur Sahib Gurduwara in Pakistan. It is heartening to hear about it as it provided opportunities for Sikhs in India to visit places of their importance in Pakistan. What baffles us is why the same consideration is not offered to the Ahmadiyas in Pakistan? The Kartarpur corridor offers a great option for Ahmadiyas to visit their spiritual Headquarters in India.
It will enable ordinary Ahmadiyas to visit Qadian. The corridor has already been opened, only thing needed is the permission from both governments. The Indian government should take the onus of opening this to Ahmadiyas from Pakistan. This will help the Ahmadiyas in a big way.
She highlighted the need for facilitating better transit facilities to the Ahmadi pilgrims coming to India. An initiative on the lines of Kartarpur Corridor would substantially ease the travel to Qadian, but the onus is on Pakistan to facilitate this.
There are initiatives which show the engagement of Academics as well as civil society in both India and Pakistan to promote religious freedom and to protect the minorities rights as well as allow them to practice their faith freely and without fear .