Did the Liberal PPP Throw Ahmadis Under the Bus? | Butcher’s Block

May 2016
By TQ

Sherry Rehman, the vice-president of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), a sitting senator and a celebrated politician known for her opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, may have inadvertently thrown a persecuted religious minority – Ahmadi Muslims – under the bus. It has taken the Senator almost a month to make a correction to an article in her name – a correction about which she was informed on the day the article was published.

The Urdu daily Jang, one of the oldest newspapers in the country with the highest-circulation in Pakistan, apparently made a nasty addition to Rehman’s article:

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“زوالفقار علی بھٹو پر مزہب کے حوالے سے طرح طرح کی تنقید کی جاتی تھی لیکن یہ زوالفقار علی بھٹو ہی تھے جنہوں نے ختم نبوت کے کئ دہایوں پر محیط پرانے مسئلے کو حل کیا اور مرزایٓوں کو غیر مسلم اقلیت قرار دیا اور اس طرح انہوں نے خود کو سچا عاشق رسول بھی ثابت کیا۔”

“Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto is constantly criticized on the question of religion. But, it was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who solved the decade-old problem of khatam-e-nabuwat (finality of the prophet) and transformed mirzais [derogatory term used for Ahmadis] into a non-Muslim minority. That is how he proved that he was an aashiq-e-rasool (lover of the prophet).”

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The article was written on April 4th. When it was initially published, Rehman tweeted it out as a tribute to the PPP leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on his death anniversary from two of her official accounts:

It immediately caught the attention of a tweeter who brought the article and the issue to her attention the same day:

Rehman never responded to those tweets and instead allowed the article to circulate for almost a month. It was shared online by PPP members and others, adding to the virulent anti-Ahmadi discourse that is already mainstream in Pakistan.

Today, the derogatory comment began to go viral after a few tweeples picked it up and began to expose it. One said her statement reflected the “[h]ypocricies of @sherryrehman; [and] Pakistani liberals in general.” Another points out that Rehman is praising the “party role in [the] apartheid of [the] #Ahmadiyya sect.”

Finally, in a tweet almost a month after its publication, Sherry Rehman claims that she did not say “a word about religion” and that Jang made their “own addition to the English original they asked for.”

She has also shared what she says is the original English version of her article on her website, and has said that “Jang will clarify” in a subsequent tweet.

The clarification comes almost one month after she circulated the article through her own accounts, and after the issue began to gain attention. The English and Urdu versions of the article are so strikingly different that even a passing glance at each would have been enough to note the changes. Surely, a major politician with resources and ample staff has assistants who take care to note what is published under the Senator’s name?

The spokesperson for Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan tweeted out after Sherry Rehman’s corrections on twitter, questioning whether her current clarification was sufficient, and pointing to other instances of anti-Ahmadi rhetoric within the PPP.

Even if the material was not hers as she now alleges, her delay may have been how she inadvertently threw Ahmadis under the bus.

One of the most important frontlines in the fight for the rights of Pakistan’s minorities, and against the blasphemy laws, is the Urdu press. While Pakistani liberals, including Sherry Rehman, have long penned articles in English papers for the rights of religious minorities and against blasphemy laws, the same is not true for the country’s Urdu media. Editorial policies in these papers give overwhelming space to the religious right. Though this is in part because of continued editorial policies within Urdu papers, Rehman’s article reinforces the belief that Ahmadis are non-Muslims and were correctly declared a minority.

Sherry Rehman has been a long-standing advocate for the rights of religious minorities, and has been a public opponent of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws for several years. She remains the president of a known liberal, Islamabad-based think-tank that she presides over, the Jinnah Institute, which has published extensive research on religious violence and freedom of religion. Her media statements are frequently recorded as evidence of the Institute’s work in quarterly and annual reports written to international donors.

The entire affair may well have been a mistake; yet Pakistanis have seen major liberal figures either backtrack or engage in doublespeak on multiple other occasions. And that begs the question: Why do Pakistani elites repeatedly get off the hook for reinforcing the very things they claim to fight for?

In related news, the the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, PPP’s Raja Pervaiz Ashraf made anti-Ahmadi remarks on television stating, “We broke the neck of the Ahmadis.”

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2 Responses to Did the Liberal PPP Throw Ahmadis Under the Bus? | Butcher’s Block

  1. MUBASHAR A. NASIR on May 2016 at 3:56 PM

    The entire life of Holy Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (SAW) was devoted that a human enter the circle of Islam, so that human’s soul is saved from hell. Contrary to this, on September 7, 1974 Chairman PPP/Prime Minister and Pakistan National Assembly declared Ahmadi Muslims as “Not Muslims.”Than Allah Taala’s verdict was super imposed. PPP Government was overthrown by Pakistan Army, PM arrested,tried, convicted for murder and hanged by neck, a death of curse. Later, his two sons and one daughter were murdered mysteriously.The officials and party could not do any thing to save their lives. This was the reward for so called service to Islam and Khatme Nabuwat. In 1984, General Zia, the dictator, promulgated Anti Ahmadi Ordinance. Ultimately, his body was burnt to ashes in C-130 air crash.It is high time the fanatic media, corrupt ex PM Raja Perwaiz Ashraf of PPP should learn a lesson from the wrath of Allah. The neck of their PM was broken when hanged. So far Jang/GEO media Group is concerned, they are prostitutes of the highest order. With the continuous blessings of Allah Taala, Ahmadiyyat, The Real Islam has spread to over 200 countries of the World and their Muslim TV Ahmadiyya is on air 24/7.

  2. Asim on May 2016 at 3:04 AM

    Jang accepts Anti-Ahmadi statement in Sherry Rehman’s April 4 piece was result of “technical fault” & not her view. bit.ly/21rY95t

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