Source: The Express Tribune
Sadiq Khan is now the mayor of London. There are countless reasons to celebrate this feat. On a personal level, it is indeed a great achievement for someone who was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father was a Pakistan immigrant and a bus driver who brought up Sadiq and his siblings in a council property. Imagine the son of that particular immigrant getting elected by a record mandate in London; it’s a truly superb moment. Congratulations to him for a truly remarkable victory.
But can every Pakistani and every Muslim personally feel proud over the appointment of the new mayor’s triumph?
I feel a louder word of applause and appreciation is due for the exemplarily tolerant and accepting people of London, a clear separation of the state from religion and the rule of law founded on equality and meritocracy. His victory substantiates the fact that anyone from any race and religion can hold an esteemed public office through a due democratic process. Last Thursday’s election is only one such example.
The timing of his selection is tremendous since religious extremists are busy tarnishing the image of Islam, Islamophobia is on a steep rise and uneasiness towards Islam has witnessed a gradual increase.
British Muslims, especially Pakistani expats, are rejoicing a rare moment of pride. Alongside the sentiments of accomplishment, some would think it is everyone’s right to vie for public office and to indeed become part of the democratic process; a fundamental right that no one can deprive them of.
Indeed, that is a common thought, or is it?
Well, the worth of this fundamental right, that most of us take for granted, dawns even brighter upon us when we read the following notice by the Election Commission of Pakistan
“…Ordered vide its letter No. F.1(6)/2001-Cord dated 17 January, 2007 that the competent authority has been pleased to decide that separate supplementary lists of draft electoral rolls for Ahmadis/Qadianis for the electoral areas concerned…”.
Being a ‘competent authority’ when they are ‘pleased’ to separate voting lists for an already persecuted community in Pakistan. A few days ago, Pakistan’s Parliament hailed the extraordinary success of a ‘Pakistani’ who made the country proud. I deem Pakistan’s Parliament and its people celebrating Sadiq Khan’s victory rather hypocritical. Why do we want the best for ourselves and do not mind if others are deprived of even the basics? Why do we only scream when we are in the line of fire? Why can we happily see our own law usurping the rights of others?
In Pakistan, Ahmadis can cast their votes for federal, provincial and local elections but only on the condition that they must declare themselves as non-Muslim. This is something that no Ahmadi’s conscience consents to; and every Ahmadi of eligible voting age does so at the cost of foregoing the very right that millions of Pakistani Muslims in several non-Muslim countries enjoy without a spec of discrimination.