Those Pakistanis like me identifying themselves as Muslims are required – thanks to General Zia-ul-Haq’s military dictatorship- to state the following at the time of the renewal of their passport:
I am a Muslim and believe in the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad the last of the Prophets. I do not recognize any one who claims to be a prophet in any sense of the word or any description whatsoever, after Prophet Muhammad or recognize such a claimant as a prophet or a religious reformer as Muslim. I consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani to be an impostor prophet and an infidel and also consider his followers whether belonging to the Lahori, Qadiani or Mirzai groups, to be non-Muslims.
I have signed this statement on atleast three occasions in my life. My passport is set to expire soon. When I renew this time around, I intend to refuse to sign this statement not out of any love for the founder of the sect of Qadiani/Lahori Ahmadi Muslims or because I want to get into such spurious arguments about theology and religious propriety- I don’t subscribe to the beliefs and religious principles of Ahmadiyya Movement any more than I subscribe to the teachings of the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith or Bahaullah . To me an abstract debate about religious delusions is utterly irrelevant to law and constitution.
I have only one reason: The statement absolutely and totally goes against Mr. Jinnah’s vision of a liberal, pluralistic and just Pakistan based on equality of citizenship, justice and fairplay . Jinnah repeatedly refused to expel the Qadianis from the Muslim League. He described the anti-Ahmadiyya attempts to be nothing less than a conspiracy to divide the Muslims. To Jinnah – a person who professed to be a Muslim was a Muslim and religious belief was the personal faith of an individual.
Jinnah entrusted Pakistan’s case to none other than Sir Zafrullah, a leading Qadiani Ahmadi Muslim. Jinnah’s enemies – the Majlis-e-Ahrar- then started a vicious campaign against Zafrulla and Ahmadis which finally ended in 1974 with the thoroughly unconstitutional “constitutional” second amendment (incidentally – if the principle against Legislative Judgment as embodied in Indira Gandhi v. Raj Rarain 1975 which forms the basis for the recent landmark judgment against NRO is honestly applied, it may be argued with complete justification that the 2nd amendment to the constitution of Pakistan is void ab initio. )
I am not sure what the consequences would be of my action but we will just have to wait and see. The legal position in my view is that I’d be asked to take a pick from non-Muslim categories. Whatever the case, I intend to put my mark of constitutional defiance and I suppose it might well cost me any chance of going for Haj. So be it. I am not going to compromise on my principles any more.
But what of those people who lay claim to greater ideals and principles than I do i.e. the left liberals, the progressives, the jet setters, the editors and nay sayers? Will they also follow suit and do the right thing? In my opinion every right thinking Pakistani and every right thinking Muslim should refuse to sign this statement. There can be no divine sanction for religious intolerance.