Sharif’s son-in-law under fire for attack on Ahmadi minority
Muhammad Safdar, a retired army captain married to Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz, accused Ahmadis of working against Pakistan’s interests.world Updated: Oct 11, 2017 17:51 IST
Former premier Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law has attracted widespread criticism for a virulent attack on Pakistan’s persecuted Ahmadi minority, which he said should be barred from recruitment in the armed forces.
Muhammad Safdar, a retired army captain married to Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz, accused Ahmadis of working against the country’s interests while speaking in the National Assembly on Tuesday.
He criticised the renaming of Quaid-e-Azam University’s physics centre after Abdus Salam, Pakistan’s first Nobel laureate because of the scientist’s Ahmadi faith. The renaming was approved by Sharif in December 2016.
“These people (Ahmadis) are a threat to this country, its Constitution and ideology. This situation is heading towards a dangerous point,” Safdar said in his speech that was widely criticised by rights activists and civil society groups.
The PML-N lawmaker described Salam as “a controversial figure that has been termed an infidel in light of the Constitution”. He also said there was no concept of jihad in the “false religion” of the Ahmadis.
Safdar said he wanted to present a resolution in the National Assembly calling for a “ban on the recruitment of Qadianis (Ahmadis) in the armed forces”.
“Because their’s is a false religion, in which there is no concept of jihad,” he said, referring to the appointment and promotion of military officers who he said were Ahmadis and “could not be trusted” with guarding the frontiers.
Human rights activist Asma Jahangir described Safdar’s remarks as “unacceptable and highly discriminatory” and demanded that Nawaz Sharif should take notice of the tirade against the persecuted community.
Safdar and his wife are currently facing trial in a corruption case filed by the National Accountably Bureau, the country’s anti-corruption watchdog. He was arrested on Monday and detained briefly before being released on bail.
The attack on the Ahmadis could be an effort to divert attention from the graft case and seek the sympathy of right wing groups, analysts said.
The government of then premier Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was pressured by religious hardliners to amend the Constitution in 1974 to declare members of the Ahmadiyya sect “non-Muslims”.
Another constitutional amendment by military ruler Zia-ul-Haq in 1984 further restricted religious freedoms of Ahmadis, who were barred from referring to themselves as Muslims and from calling their places of worship mosques.
Some 1.5 million Ahmadis live across Pakistan. Several Ahmadi cemeteries in Punjab province have been vandalised and dozens of Ahmadis have been gunned down by terror groups over the years. In 2010, nearly 100 Ahmadis were killed when suicide attackers stormed two mosques in Lahore.