Town that doesn't vote: Pak Ahmadis say forced to abstain

RABWAH (PAKISTAN): There are no campaign posters within the Pakistani the city of Rabwah, and no election rallies on its streets. Though they may well be an influential bloc in a key electoral battleground, just about 90 p.c of its residents won't vote in a July 25 poll.

The other folks of Rabwah, in Punjab province, are predominantly Ahmadi Muslims, and abstain from elections due to what they say are discriminatory regulations that focus on their minority sect.

Pakistan's election regulations place Ahmadis on a separate voter registration list categorising them as non-Muslim. Community leaders say this violates their right to non secular self-identify as Muslim.

"It's a matter of our faith so there can be no compromise on that," group spokesman Salim Ud Din advised Reuters.

Pakistan's Election Commission did not reply to requests for comment. In a letter sent to Salim Ud Din, the commission mentioned it used to be "following law which cannot be changed by the commission".

Community leaders say anti-Ahmadi rhetoric has intensified within the lead-up to Wednesday's normal election, as politicians search to shore up fortify amongst religiously conservative citizens and head off the challenge posed via two new Islamist events.

Last 12 months, a row over proposed changes to the election law that would have eased some of the barriers on Ahmadis collaborating in elections noticed the gang denounced on the ground of Pakistan's parliament, while probably the most new Islamist events held boulevard protests.

The Ahmadis believe themselves to be Muslims but their reputation of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who based the sect in British-ruled India in 1889, as a "subordinate prophet within the fold of Islam" is seen via most of the Sunni majority as a breach of the Islamic guiding principle that the Prophet Mohammad used to be God's closing direct messenger.

By law they can not name their puts of worship mosques or distribute spiritual literature, recite the Koran or use conventional Islamic greetings, measures they say criminalize their day-to-day lives.

A SENSE OF CITIZENSHIP

Syed Qamar Suleman Ahmad voted for the primary and closing time within the 1977 election.

Three years previous the sect had been declared "non-Muslim" via Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) executive. But Ahmad says he still voted for the PPP, because they fielded the most efficient candidate in his constituency.

"Back then the election was still on the basis of being Pakistani, not on the basis of being Muslim," he mentioned. "There was a sense of excitement."

Bhutto used to be overthrown and later hanged via military ruler General Zia ul Haq, whose executive barred Ahmadis from identifying themselves as Muslim. Ahmad has now not voted since.

Masood Ahmad Khalid, who closing cast a poll in 1970, recollects lacking his bus and having to stroll a protracted distance to the nearest polling station.

"My father was very particular about voting," he recollects, including that the suitable to vote reinforces a sense of citizenship. "It's not about wanting to vote, it's about being given my rights."

Salim Ud Din launched a remark on July 13 announcing the Ahmadi group would as soon as once more be disassociating from the elections due to Pakistan's discriminatory regulations.

"We have a very rich history of participating in politics," he mentioned, including that Pakistan has allowed itself to be controlled via the spiritual right.

Election observers believe if the rustic's 500,000 Ahmadi had been to take part, their vote may just swing the results of greater than 20 closely contested seats in Punjab, essentially the most populous province where Pakistani elections are received and misplaced.


"They (the religious right) know we are an organised community, educated, so when we are involved we can have an influence," Ud Din added.


One of the men buried in Rabwah's well-manicured graveyard is Chaudhry Zafrulah Khan, Pakistan's first foreign minister.


Community individuals often discuss with him, announcing the rustic's founding father Mohammad Ali Jinnah chose an Ahmadi as Pakistan's first consultant to the arena.


To conform to regulations forbidding Ahmadis to spot as Muslim, the Ahmadi group have erased all Islamic inscriptions from Khan's headstone.
Town that doesn't vote: Pak Ahmadis say forced to abstain Town that doesn't vote: Pak Ahmadis say forced to abstain Reviewed by kailash soni on July 21, 2018 Rating: 5
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