After the massacre in Peshawar on Dec. 16th, which left over a hundred schoolchildren dead, the country’s foremost analysts have painstakingly tried to pinpoint both historical and recent reasons that led to the carnage. It is a complicated, rather convoluted exercise with a great web of interconnected triggers. And though there is rarely a single reason for such tragedies, there are some that can be narrowed down. The fatal shooting of a young Ahmadi man Luqman Ahad Shehzad is one such incident.
In 1974, the Constitution was amended to declare Ahmadis as non-Muslim. Going a step further, it became a crime for Ahmadis to pose as Muslim or “offend” a Muslim’s feelings. Since then, there have been scores of incidents of violence against Ahmadis, with attacks in Ahmadi mosques in May 2010 alone leading to 86 deaths. This year, 11 Ahmadis have been brutally killed for the crime of being Ahmadi alone, notably in July, by a mob that took the lives of two children and a woman. Perhaps what is even worse than the amendment to the ’74 Constitution are platforms that allow for its constant publicity. As though it wasn’t bad enough that countless Muslim clerics across the breadth of the country get to scream their violent opinions from their pulpits, now they get prime-time slots on popular television shows hosted by a particular brand of extremist showman.
In 2008, a show hosted by Aamir Liaqat featured Muslim scholars who declared Ahmadis to be Wajib-ul-Qatl, or deserving of murder. Within a day of the show being aired, two Ahmadis were murdered; one of them a physician and the other a community leader. Aamir Liaqat took no responsibility for the attack, and as the public is wont to do, the incident was soon forgotten; buried beneath a tirade of other controversies and a ridiculous brand of entertainment almost exclusive to Pakistan. Last Monday, this same man hosted a show featuring a notable Muslim cleric Syed Arif Shah Owaisi who strongly denounced Ahmadis and accused the Ahmadi community of blaspheming against the Prophet (pbuh) of Islam. Five days later, Luqman Shehzad, a leader of the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya (JA) was shot in the back of the head. It is impossible not to draw a correlation for the second time.
Why are these violence preaching clerics allowed on television at all? Why are show-hosts who stand so exposed one controversy after another, not held accountable for the tragedies that unfold in the name of their entertaining? Why are they granted dignity and treated with respect and position? Who edits these shows, and why has there been no apology for this editorial disaster? The year ends with yet another tragedy, because as we fight a war against terrorism on all physical fronts, we cannot recognise the place where it truly roosts.