Sir: Apropos to the column ‘Does PUC condemn sectarian violence’ by Kashif N Chaudhry (Daily Times, June 10, 2014), the writer has criticised the National Conference Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) conducted on June 5 in Islamabad on the importance of dialogue to create inter-faith and inter-sect harmony. According to the writer the conference has failed to meet its expected goal of creating harmony among different religions and religious denominations in the country for its incomplete audience. He had complained that since nobody from the Ahmadiyya community was invited, the conference was therefore flawed in its concept and ended being a hypocritical effort by the bunch of Ulema who had been instrumental in describing the Ahmadis as non-Muslims through a constitutional amendment in 1974. He also said that one of the chairmen of PUC was part of this amendment. The writer said that he met Chairman PUC Maulana Tahir Ashrafi in the conference and asked him a few questions about the Ahmadis, but to the writer’s chagrin Maulana gave one answer to all of his questions: “The Ahmadis are Kafir.”
PUC strongly objects to the lie the writer has made regarding meeting Chairman PUC on the sideline of the conference. Maulana Tahir has never met the writer personally.
PUC also objects to the debate the writer has tried to develop without understanding the basis on which the Ahmadiyya were not invited to the conference. It must not be forgotten that PUC was the only organization among the religious outfits that went out of the way to criticise attacks on the places of worship of the Ahmadis in May 2010. It was at the forefront to condemn blasphemous charges against Governor Salmaan Taseer. PUC has been defending Christians as well as Hindus against their prosecution by Muslim extremists. Therefore unlike other religious organizations, PUC has never shied away from talking for the rights of the non-Muslims.
As far as inviting the Ahmadis to the conference was concerned, the PUC was not sure that under which category they should be invited: as a separate religion, as a religious denomination, or as a religious group. None of this might have gone down well with the community or with other religious groups such as the Christians who have strong reservations against the Ahmadis for having their own concept about Jesus. Unfortunately the whole thesis on which the Ahmadiyya discipline is erected, shares little or no commonality with other religions and religious denominations in the country. In the absence of any commonality, inviting the Ahmadis would have made things worse rather than creating an enabling environment for them.
PUC has nothing against the Ahmadis. However it would like to awaken the group to the extremist elements in their ranks as well. Hate material produced by them is also adding poison to the already charged religious atmosphere.
And why should the Ahmadis think that they are being singled out and killed? The country is passing through an unprecedented storm of terrorism/sectarian violence and its twister devours anyone within its reach: Muslims, Hindu, Sikhs, Shias, Ahmadis, and within the Sunni sects, the Barelvis. PUC strongly believes that every Pakistani irrespective of his/her religion or religious leaning deserves respect, honour and right to protection by the state. And like any Pakistani the Ahmadis should also be respected and given the right to live.
Moulana Zahid Qasmi