Humanity defied: flood relief and politics of faith

Usman Ahmad has sent this exclusive post for PTH that highlights yet another fissure in our collective conduct – denying relief to people on the basis of their faith is cruel and inhuman. We strongly condemn the treatment meted out to minorities even in these disastrous times. Each time such a report makes news, we are cruelly reminded that this is neither Jinnah’s Pakistan nor the country envisioned by millions who moved to this land in 1947. Raza Rumi

There is increasing evidence to suggest that in their efforts to relieve the victims of the recent floods the authorities and elements of the local population have taken upon themselves the right to decide whom among them is actually ‘deserving’ of aid. This may, to some extent have been justified had there been a clearly set forth criteria for prioritisation based on factors like, the age, gender and the health of victims or the extent of loss and injury suffered by those displaced in the disaster. But in the flood-affected areas of south Punjab, when it comes to the Ahmadis, the over-riding concern seems to be their religious beliefs and not the common bond of humanity.
Since flooding began, almost 450 Ahmadi families have been displaced in the districts of Muzaffargarh, Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur. Many have been turned away from relief camps and other accommodation, either for fear of ‘unrest’ or because of pressure from local clerics and the lay population, while most have been left to fend for themselves. Not only this, but Ahmadis have also seen Fatwa’s issued that they should not be lent any form of assistance.
According to the spokesperson of the community, Mr Saleem-ud-Din, absolutely no help or relief has been offered to the Ahmadis by the authorities. “We do not make any demands from the government”, he said, “but in the initial stages of the relief operation they should have deployed their various resources, to help the region’s Ahmadis, in the same way that they assisted the non-Ahmadi population. Not a single boat or helicopter was used to rescue Ahmadi families. Instead, the Jama’at hired whatever transport we could and rescued the stranded victims ourselves. When all this is over the Jama’at will itself undertake the task of reconstructing their homes. We expect nothing from anyone.”
In Basti Rinda, not only were the Ahmadis offered no assistance to evacuate the town but were threatened with a lathi charge if they did not make their own arrangements to leave the area. According to one Ahmadi, Muhammad Iqbal Sehrani, the rest of the population were assisted in the evacuation immediately provided with food and shelter. Later, under pressure from locals, Ahmadis were ejected them from a number of private homes where the owners had given them shelter and were forced to look for rented accommodation during this time of crises.
Elsewhere an aid-worker who had visited Rajanpur told me that he was approached by locals who warned him not to assist the Ahmadis there because they ‘rejected’ the Prophet Muhammad. Members of the Jama’at have also been turned away from relief camps in Muzaffargarh.
Owing to this chronic lack of help, almost 200 hundred Ahmadis have sought shelter in Rabwah, where they are being accommodated in guest houses or private homes. There the Jama’at has taken upon itself to provide them with food and any other assistance they may require.
South Punjab has proved a hotbed of anti-Ahmadi feeling in the past. A number of cases have been registered against Ahmadis in the area under the various provisions of the Blasphemy Law, while in 2003, the head of the Ahmadi community in Rajanpur, Mr Mian Iqbal Ahmad, was murdered in a religiously motivated target killing.
The hideous spectre of hate and discrimination continues to haunt the country even in this time of great peril and casts further doubt on the ongoing relief efforts which many Pakistanis have come to view with suspicion. Instead of putting each other’s differences aside and fostering a spirit of togetherness, there are still elements who seek to use every possible opportunity to foster mutual discord. In the wake of the May 28 terror attack in Lahore, there were many who insisted that despite their religious differences, Ahmadis were citizens of Pakistan and had the right to be recognised. Now more than ever these sentiments need to be put into realised and the country needs to unite in order to overcome this terrible tragedy.


Filed under disaster

19 responses to “Humanity defied: flood relief and politics of faith

  1. Taalay

    Absolutely shocking. And to add to that two more ahmadis have been murdered in sindh due to their faith in the last week.

  2. Maryanne Khan

    very simply

    even though this nation (Australia) is still reeling from the fallout from a stupid, self-centred, selfish, election, we still give much time to showing images of people scurrying after helicopters (unidentified) dropping small white sacks (of what?) into scurrying mobs, relief so random and uncoordinated and why is that? in a nation far more ravaged than we can even imagine.

    Displaced, ‘affected’ people almost equal to our entire population.

    Good god.

    Where the hell is the coordinated relief effort?

  3. Farhat

    Although I had seen this story in various papers, I am glad that PTH highlighted it here also. I was somehow not surprised by this story, as I no longer have any expectations from Pakistan in terms of the Ahmadi issue or any humanitarian treatment of people in this nation. Pakistan has hit such lows that I feel that people are living in some dark ages. The brutal way in which two brothers were beaten and hunged in Sialkot affirms my thinking the nation has turned barbaric! I hope that I am wrong and Pakistan will change..

  4. Samia

    Nothing is shocking anymore when it comes to Pakistan. What a complete failure of a country.

  5. S.A

    I absolutely agree with u Farhat. Pakistan is full of shameless people who never learn from their mistakes. At a time when Pakistan is struck by a natural disaster hate elements continue with their evil designs…. A pathetic nation indeed.

  6. ramesh

    only few of the educated are of the secular mind set the majority in pakistan are the prejudiced type,that is the major reason help is not forthcoming.the unjust law against the ahmadis passed by the majority is an example.

  7. D Asghar

    I thought Allama Sahib’s vision was that we were going to unite and be the “Paasbaan e Haram.” I am sure when it comes to the security of Haram, we should leave it up to the BIG guy HIMSELF.

    When it comes to the security of our citizens, it is our own responsibility. I am afraid that even the BIG GUY is not going to lend HIS divine hand on that one.

    Shameful and pathetic. A human being is a human being and deserves to be protected, if he believes in nothing.

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  9. Amir Mahmood

    Mr. Usman
    this is a good article. I appriciate it.

  10. Ibn-e-Maryam

    Sad indeed. ‘A lais minkum rajalun rasheed’? [Are you left with no one with wisdom]. This Quranic decree has become the state of affairs in this country.

  11. Farhana Pasha

    … and this nation still wonders why earthquakes in 2005 and now floods in 2010 ! Why they are punished again and again by Allah. This nation has become absolutely shameless. In this time of crisis, how can one even think about discrimination?

  12. Bin Ismail

    The state-certified Muslims have taken it upon their righteous selves to victimize the state-declared kafirs. How reminiscent of the events of Karbala. The Council of Ulema of the court of Yazid, first unanimously declared Imam Hussain a kafir, murtad and wajib-ul qatl, following which the victimization of the state-declared kafirs became legally valid.

    In 1974, the National Assembly declared the Ahmadis non-Muslims, following which the self-righteous took upon themselves to victimize the Ahmadis by all means possible. The pinnacle of this persecution came on 28th May 2010, when 85 Ahmadis were gunned down, while in the state of worship.

    Allah is Rahman and Raheem, meaning Gracious and Merciful. But let us not forget that He is also “Muntaqim” [The Avenger]. When injustices go beyond limits, He avenges the wronged. When persecution becomes glaring, He avenges the persecuted.

  13. Usman Ahmad

    Grief can often bring about moments of self reflection and penance – unfortunately the recent floods seem to have had hardly any effect on the national conscience. This is perhaps the mast galling aspect of the fallout from the floods – the lack of any national discussion or consensus about the state of the country. People talk of change – but currently there is not even a hint of any longing or desperation to move towards betterment. Perhaps that is the real disaster.

  14. O J DEEN

    Islam, like all true religions, taught Love, Peace and Tolerance in its beginning. They are the unholy scholars of the latter dark ages who attributed hatred, terrorism and violence towards Islam. The Promised Messiah rejected all sorts of hatred, terrorism and violence in the name of God and that is the main reason why he and his followers are unanimously declared Non-Muslims by the terrorists and the so-called Muslim scholars of this dark age.
    Don’t you feel that the world today needs the divine guidance more than ever before? Is it not the time when servants of God are being drawn away from God, by the glamour of material world, more than ever before? If your conscience replies in the affirmative then please give due importance to the call of one who claimed to be sent by Allah (God) in order to re-establish the real and certain contact and relation of humans with Him.

  15. sarah

    very well written usman……the killing of ahmadis in 2005 in the month of ramazan and the next day this nation sees a devastating earthquake ……. the events of may 28th and now these floods…..but this nation fails to understand….the other day someone on tv was saying that this is not azaab , azaab only comes when there comes a prophet!!!!!!!!

  16. This was a very well writen article. It is extremely sad to see the state of affairs in Pakistan.As far as the brutall murder of the two brothers is concerned ,it is indeed a sad incident but this is not the first time this sort of barbaric action has taken place.In the mid-ninties ,Riaz Ahmed sahib ,a prominent Ahmadi was stoned to death in the confines of the court house in Shab-e- Qadar.This happened in full view of every one and the police stood by and did nothing to stop , not only this brutall killing but also his body was dragged on the roads in full veiw.Why now such a large hue and cry through out the nation when this sort of barbarism has been going on for years against ahmaddis.The people of Pakistan kept silent and looked the other way in case of the ahmaddiya community but now what will they do when this injustice and intolerance has finally come to haunt them like a Nemesis .

  17. Bin Ismail

    @ sarah (August 29, 2010 at 1:22 pm)

    “…..the other day someone on tv was saying that this is not azaab…..”

    If this someone, presumably a maulvi, happened to be around in the days of Noah, he would have claimed with equal certainty that the Deluge too, was not “azaab”.

    Assuming these floods of Pakistan are not “azaab”, are they some unique kind of “sawaab” ? If so, to what does our nation owe this singular honour?

  18. Khullat

    @ Bin Ismail (August 31, 2010 at 1:29 am)

    “Assuming these floods of Pakistan are not “azaab”, are they some unique kind of “sawaab”? If so, to what does our nation owe this singular honour?”

    To what does our nation owe this singular honour? On the 28th of May 2010, 85 innocent Ahmadi citizens of Pakistan were gunned down while they were in the state of adoration before their Lord. Two months later the Lord sends His wrath in the form of the Deluge.

  19. O J DEEN

    [17:16] He who follows the right way follows it only for the good of his own soul: and he who goes astray, goes astray only to his own loss. And no bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another. We never punish until We have sent a Messenger.

    [17:17] And when We intend to destroy a township, We address Our commandment to its rebellious people, but they transgress therein; so the sentence of punishment becomes due against it, and We destroy it with utter destruction.

    [17:18] How many generations have We destroyed after Noah! And thy Lord suffices as the Knower and Seer of the sins of His servants.

    O Europe! you are not secure, O Asia! you are not secure, O you who dwell in the Islands, no artificial god will come to your aid. I see the cities falling and I see the habitations in ruin. The One and the Unique has long remained silent…………. Abominations were committed before His eyes and yet He remained silent. But now He shall reveal His countenance in a dreadful manner. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! The hour is not far. I tried to bring everyone under the security of God, but the decrees of destiny had to be fulfilled.
    Assuredly, I say that this country’s turn is also drawing near. The days of Noah shall appear before your eyes, and you will see with your own eyes what happened to the land of Lot. But God is slow to wrath, repent so that you are shown mercy. He who abandons God is a worm, not a man, and he who does not fear Him is dead, not alive.”
    [Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Haqiqatul Wahy [Reality of Revelation]. 1907.]