By Saad Sayed
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s disenfranchised Ahmadi community released an annual report on Saturday that detailed growing hostilities against the minority sect, including indiscriminate arrests and impediments blocking them from voting in general elections.
Ahmadis are forbidden from calling themselves Muslims or using Islamic symbols in their religious practices. They face discrimination and violence over accusations their faith insults Islam and community leaders say that open vitriol and calls for violence against the community intensified in 2017.
“Under pressure from religious extremists, the Ahmadis were denied registration in joint electoral lists,” community leaders said in a news release accompanying the “persecution report”.
“The preparation of separate electoral lists being prepared specifically for the Ahmadis in Pakistan is the worst kind of discrimination,” they said.
With a general election due in 2018, politicians from both the religious fringe and established parties have had the Ahmadis in their sights.
The ultra right-wing Tehreek-e-Labaik party began a political furor late last year after lawmakers from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) approved apparently small changes to the election law that discarded a requirement for Ahmadi voters to declare they are not Muslim.