When the country’s most renowned televangelist pins the blame for what is being dubbed the greatest tragedy in the nation’s history on a particular community in a ‘prime time’ morning show, it quite obviously is going to be a popular allegation. And when Aamir Liaquat Hussain and his handpicked clergy claimed that Qadianis (a derogatory title for Ahmadis) and ‘Qadiyaniat’ were the reason behind the Peshawar attack – to rapturous applause in the audience – it indeed was a very popular accusation.
For Aamir Liaquat, being held directly responsible for the murder of Ahmadis was a familiar position to be in
Three days later though, a 27-year-old Jamaat-i-Ahmadiyya (JA) leader Luqman Ahad Shehzad was shot dead in Gujranwala, transforming the TRP-seeking hatemongering against the Ahmaddiya community into blatant incitement for violence. And for Aamir Liaquat, being held directly responsible for the murder of Ahmadis was a familiar position to be in.
Six years ago Aamir Liaquat Hussain hosted another anti-Ahmaddiya show on Geo TV, where the clerics dubbed anyone claiming that Ahmadis are Muslims ‘wajib-ul-qatl’. This of course included all those Ahmadis the world over who believe that they are Muslims. The very next day after that September 2008 show two Ahmadi leaders were killed, with Aamir Liaquat on record as saying that he had ‘no regrets, since the killings had nothing to do with him.’
After openly declaring Ahmadis to be ‘worthy of being killed’ on a prime time TV show, Pakistan’s most popular televangelist said that the killings of the community members, the very next day, had nothing to do with him. And he pulled it off with a perfectly straight face.
Similarly on another TV show Maulana Abdul Aziz of the Lal Masjid fame (or notoriety) was asked to comment on the killing of Ahmadis. Aziz claimed that ‘once Shariah law is established in Pakistan all minorities would be safeguarded’ going on to name all religious minorities barring the Ahmadis. The host pressed him to comment on the Ahmadi killings, and quite possibly had the audacity to expect a condemnation from Aziz. The Lal Masjid cleric finally retorted, counter-questioning the host: “Why do you love Ahmadis so much?”
Likewise, PAT chief Tahirul Qadri’s Minhajul Quran was seen sponsoring a ‘Six-day Qadiani Eradication Training’ in Faisalabad in June this year, virtually coinciding with his anti-government circus that kept the nation busy in the second half of the year. Qadri, who has issued a fatwa against suicide bombings, is renowned for giving contrasting statements regarding the blasphemy law – taking pride in being the law’s scriber in Urdu, while condemning it in English to woo the Western intelligentsia. This helps him hog airtime in both parts of the world, propagating conflicting ideals.
Even Hamid Mir, the man whose valour when it comes to calling a spade a spade vis-à-vis Balochistan, resulted in him being targeted – almost fatally – has been guilty of brewing anti-Ahmadi propaganda through his powerful pen.
When Altaf Hussain claimed in 2009 that he would “establish a church, Hindu temple and a ‘Qadiani mosque’ once his party came into power, and said that Ahmadis should be allowed to preach their ideology, it was Hamid Mir who accused an Ahmadi officer Major Nadeem Dar of being responsible for the operation against the MQM, in his column. Assuming his allegation to be correct, Mir failed to substantiate how Dar’s religious inclinations had anything to do with the operation.
But of course Urdu newspapers take pride in launching tirades against the Ahmadis and spewing violent hatred against the community.
‘The apostates, deserving to be killed, Qadianis must be expelled from the country: Jamiat Ulamae Islam’ was daily Khabrein’s three-column headline on July 3, 2012.
‘Qadianis have conspired to break up Pakistan through support of anti-Islam movements’ was Daily Ausaf’s three-column headline in March, 2012, a year that saw 1,173 news stories against the Ahmaddiya community in mainstream Urdu newspapers alone.
From 1984 – the year Ordinance XX was implemented that debarred Ahmadis from ‘posing as Muslims’ – to 2012, 210 Ahmadis were killed for their faith. Luqman Ahad Shehzad’s murder makes him the 11th Ahmadi person killed for being ‘the enemy of Islam and Pakistan’ this year.
The unfortunate state of our country is such that anti-Ahmaddiya propaganda is just another day at the office for many of our televangelists and print media jihadists. But when the same TV showman’s hate speech directly results in violence against the community, it is no longer just a state-sponsored apartheid against Ahmadis. It is gradually transforming into barefaced ethnic cleansing, running parallel to the ongoing Shia genocide.
That Aamir Liaquat’s religious hatemongering came in the aftermath of the country’s most devastating act of violence in Peshawar, flagrantly committed in the name of religion, showcases the state’s refusal to address the menacing elephant in the room.
Acts of violence like the Peshawar incident, or the murder of Luqman Ahad Shehzad, are facilitated by constant brewing of hate on national television for anyone deemed to be a nonbeliever. Failure to keep a check on incitement to violence, in the name of Islam or jihad, will continue to manufacture Islamist terrorists at a frequency much greater than the rate of their elimination by the Pakistan Army.
While abhorring and accusing Aamir Liaquat Hussain might be easy for the tiny fraction of rationalists who deem his anti-Ahmaddiya propaganda to be disgusting, but at the end of the day he’s just a showman who cashes in on his audience’s demands.
The popular sentiment among his viewers supports the apartheid against Ahmadis and their persecution for being the ‘number one state enemy’. The day a sufficient number of Pakistanis support equal rights for Ahmadis, he would be the first to jump in on the bandwagon and preach tolerance for the community. As things stand, asking inciting murder against the community sends his show’s TRPs into orbit.