Loving a country that doesn’t love you back

The New Zealand massacre through the eyes of an Ahmedi abroad

Ever since I moved abroad, I have felt it is my responsibility now more than ever to represent my country in a better light, to somehow change peoples’ perspectives and help them see a beautiful and positive image of Pakistan. However, doing all of that while being simultaneously named as a Kafir (infidel) by the country itself is a bit difficult. I have always loved Pakistan. I loved it when mullahs threatened to attack our school, I loved it when two of our mosques were attacked, I loved it when more than 90 people were killed in that attack, I loved it when Ahmadi students were harassed and abused in the name of Islam, I loved it when I could not move to Lahore to study because my parents felt scared, I loved it when I saw anti Ahmadi banners plastered all over All my life I never felt as if there was an option to not love Pakistan. I could never bear to hate it despite how I and my fellow Ahmadis were treated. Hafeez Centre, I loved it when I saw stickers promoting the murder of Ahmadis in Liberty Market, I loved it when my mother had to take off the Ahmadiyya lapel pin from her burqa for fear of being attacked, I loved it when Ahmadi doctors were brutally murdered, I loved it when our neighbourhoods were set ablaze, I loved it when my fellow brothers and sisters were tormented, tortured, jailed and murdered because of their faith, I loved it when politicians and public figures openly spewed hate against us, I loved it when clients would boycott my mother’s boutique because of her faith, I loved it when I could not even publically say ‘Salam’, I loved it even though it never loved me back. I have always loved Pakistan despite all of this and much more, and I will keep loving it till my last breath.

The recent New Zealand attack has certainly shaken everyone including Pakistan. All over the world, leaders, journalists and ordinary citizens condemned the attack and so did the people of Pakistan. Among the numerous victims were three Pakistani citizens. As I saw the love and support pour in for them and their families, I could not help myself think back to all those times minorities were brutally murdered in our own land and no one batted an eye. To see my fellow Pakistanis praying, praising and even speaking up for the rights of Muslims, made me yearn for the same when more than half of the New Zealand victims had been murdered on 28 May 2010. I want to ask my fellow Pakistanis how they justify mourning the death of Muslims thousands of miles away while minorities are being tortured in their own homeland. Where is your support when hundreds of Shias are killed? Where is your solidarity when Christians are burnt alive? Where is your sympathy when Hindus are being kidnapped? Where is your compassion when Ahmadis are declared ‘Wajib-ul-Qatl’ meaning ‘worthy of death’. Why is Jacinda Ardern applauded for standing up for the Muslim minority while Salmaan Taseer was viciously murdered for doing the same thing for Pakistani minorities? The same people who celebrated Sarwat Qadri as a national hero are the ones calling the suspect in New Zealand a terrorist. Every Pakistani that condemns the killing of innocents in New Zealand, while simultaneously cheering on the ill treatment of the country’s minorities, is nothing but a hypocrite.

Last year in December was the first time I was travelling back to Pakistan alone. Despite it only being 10 months since I moved away from Pakistan, I had missed it terribly. I had missed everything from the atmosphere to the people. I was counting down the days, crossing them on my calendar, anxiously waiting to be reunited with my homeland. The day of my flight; my husband reminded me to be extra careful with the Pakistani immigration officer in case he questions me about the ‘Ahmadi’ stamp on my passport. A stamp put on there to only to divide the nation and ignite religious bigotry. A feeling of worry instantly replaced my earlier excitement. Hours later while I sat in the plane, I started to think of how unfair it was for me to worry about going back to my own country, my home. The horrid feeling of not having a land to call home sank my heart. The country that I would willingly lay down my life for was the same country that wished I never existed in the first place.

All of those who make up the so-called ‘majority’ part of Pakistan can never know the pain of being discriminated against in your own homeland

All of those who make up the so-called ‘majority’ part of Pakistan can never know the pain of being discriminated against in your own homeland. Next time you proudly call Pakistan the land of the pure; think about all those Shias, Christians, Ahmadis, Hindus, Jews and so many others who live in constant fear just because they do not fit your definition of pure.

All my life I never felt as if there was an option to not love Pakistan. I could never bear to hate it despite how I and my fellow Ahmadis were treated. Love for my country was ingrained in me, I could not rid myself of it. No matter how much I try to think from the perspective of the majority, I stay confused. I cannot fathom justifying the murder of a human being only because of their faith. What religion are my fellow Pakistanis following that encourages torturing and killing of innocent people? Without a thought they commend the massacre of innocents in the name of Allah, in the name of the Prophet (PBUH). The same Allah that calls himself ‘the most merciful’ ‘the most forgiving.’ The same prophet that even at the time of war would explicitly warn Muslims not to hurt the innocent.

While talking to one of our close friends here, I was explaining how emotive it was to attend my first Friday prayers after coming to Germany. How it had been ages since I had had the opportunity to pray in a mosque. Saying it out loud made me realise how such a basic right had been stolen from me as a child. My friend asked if I would ever go back to Pakistan. My answer was instant, ‘Of course, it’s my home.’ This is only temporary, home will always be Pakistan. No matter who I tell this to, they are always puzzled. To them, it is pure suicide. I can’t argue with that; even when I sit down to think of going back to a place where people want nothing more than my blood on their hands, it seems to be the most reckless decision. I guess love does make you do stupid things. I have no other explanation for it.



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