Readers’ Challenge: Why Ahmadis Now?

Yesterday was almost equally violent for both India, where suspected sabotage of train by Maoists left at least 74 dead in West Bengal, and Pakistan. In Lahore, an equivalent number were killed in the attacks on the two Ahmadi mosques. According to the New York Times: “Geo TV, a leading news channel in Pakistan, reported that members of the Punjab branch of the Pakistani Taliban were claiming responsibility for the attacks.”

The Los Angeles Times reports:

An Ahmadi elder from the Model Town mosque said the mosque had been getting threatening phone calls for some time, and had reported the threats to Lahore police. “We asked the government and police several times to enhance our security, but we didn’t get anything,” … After the [first] attack, Ahmadi worshippers . . . were angered by what they said was a delayed response from police once the attack began. Though a police station is near the mosque, the Ahmadi elder said police arrived about 50 minutes after worshippers called for help.

Elsewhere, another survivor said: “We are peaceful, law-abiding citizens and we get no protection.”

Persecution of the tiny Ahmadi sect has in fact been legislated. As ReligiousIntolerance.org reports:

In 1974, the National Assembly of Pakistan approved the Second Amendment to the Constitution literally excommunicating Ahmadi Muslims and banishing them from the fold of Islam. … In 1984, General Zia-ul Haq, promulgated [an ordinance] branding Ahmadis as criminals liable to fine and imprisonment if they practiced their belief in Islam.

In 1993 the Supreme Court of Pakistan heard a case by a number of Ahmadis who asserted that they were being deprived of their religious rights and freedoms. … The majority opinion of the court stated that many Islamic phrases were, in effect, copyrighted trademarks of the Islamic faith. Thus the use of these phrases by Ahmadis was a form of copyright infringement [violating] the Trademark Act of 1940.

Hmm, Islam as a brand. But what do Focal Points readers think inspired the Taliban to divert manpower and resources to attacking the Ahmadi, who arguably outdo the Taliban as cultural outlanders (since the latter enjoy some support in the Army and ISI), now. Why not keep their sites set on attacking the Pakistani government, which has caused it such grief in the frontier provinces?