Imran Khan's attack on the Ahmadiyya community was a calculated political move during a cynical election campaign.
|Imran Khan, a good cricketer|
Many Pakistanis were surprised when attacking Ahmadis became an integral part of Imran Khan's election campaign, which ends on Saturday. In conferences and videos, Terhik-e-Insaf's leader repeatedly described the religious sect as 'infidels', while speaking of alleged conspiracies involving the 'Ahmadi lobby'. Khan even released a statement supporting Pakistan's discriminatory anti-Ahmadi laws: "PTI totally subscribes to the article in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on the Ahmadis. It is not part of the PTI agenda to seek amendment of the said article in the Constitution." This directly contradicted Khan's previous statement on the same laws, recorded in the YouTube video below: "Any law which discriminates against human beings is unjust. Insh'Allah, Terhik-e-Insaf will bring justice and protect everyone".
So why the sudden u-turn? Far from being a powerful political 'lobby', Pakistan's 4 million Ahmadis are entirely disenfranchised. In August 2011, the last government began preparing for the forthcoming elections by issuing forms to be signed by all potential voters. Each person was forced to specify which faith they belonged to, with 'Muslim', and 'Ahmadi/Qadiani' listed separately. Anyone who identified themselves as 'Muslim' had to sign a further declaration stating: "Nor am I associated with the Qadiani group or the Lahori group nor do I call myself an Ahmadi."
In effect, Pakistan's Ahmadis were required to either deny their faith in Islam or renounce the Ahmadiyya sect. As they weren't willing to do either, the forms worked in systematically removing Ahmadis from the electoral process. The Asian Human Rights Commission recently summed up the situation: "Ahmadis are one such group which is denied their right to vote; they cannot register as a voter in Pakistan. It is a most shameful and horrifying fact that all Muslims in Pakistan in order to get their I.D cards which are essential for registering as a voter, have to make a mandatory declaration pronouncing the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community as an impostor and a liar. No civil society in the modern times can tolerate such arrogance of a country towards its own nationals."
All of this may well explain Khan's change of heart. He weighed up pleasing 4 million Ahmadis who can't vote against appeasing millions of bigots who can and chose the latter. @Taalay