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Persecution Of The Ahmadiyya Community In Pakistan: An Analysis Under International Law
VI. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Ahmadis in Pakistan have been called “the most persecuted Muslim religious group today.” *86 Those defending the anti-blasphemy laws would be quick to argue that Ahmadis are not Muslims to begin with, so they cannot be the most persecuted Muslim group in the world. Their persecution stems from their false hope for self-identification as Muslims; should they renounce their identity as Muslims, they would ameliorate their position. Such reasoning is counter to one of the very quests that sustained Pakistan's statehood: self-identification as Muslims in lieu of persecution under Hindu India. Freedoms of thought, conscience, religion, and belief are what drove millions of people to die for the creation of a safe haven for Muslims in Pakistan. To subject Muslim religious minorities today to the same persecution Muslims endured during partition would be to relinquish the principles of justice Pakistan sought at its inception to justify its creation.

Until international law speaks to the issue, the persecution of Ahmadis will continue. One of the virtues of international institutions and instruments is their ability to regulate problems of political proportions though legal means. The anti-blasphemy provisions in Pakistan are legal mechanisms cloaked in political trappings. They validate the ascension of strict Shari'a as well as the militant whims and ambitions of extreme Islamic fundamentalist groups in Pakistan. They construct and regulate an invisible threat by religious minorities and in so doing earn the backing and support of Pakistan's institutions and a significant part of its people. But a State's political ruse cannot withstand the authority of a larger body of law. As an institutionalist might argue, where a nation once committed to universal human rights now stands opposed to a body of international customary human rights norms, it nevertheless cannot escape being bound by the norms of the majority, and it remains liable for its gross deviations from the set of regulations that govern that majority.

A constructivist is correct to put faith in changing norms in Pakistan. The October 1999 military coup in Pakistan, though decried by much of the international community, was a joyous occasion for many of Pakistan's citizens. On the streets of Karachi shortly thereafter, one could sense a movement towards governmental reform, accountability, and justice. The events of September 11th have only fueled this impulse, with Pakistan's citizens demanding more accurate census counts, more fair geographic and demographic representation in the National Assembly, and a more consistent administration of justice. These new norms have begun to bode well for Ahmadis, albeit tenuously. *87 For example, on April 21, 2000, President Musharraf required that deputy commissioners rather than local police officers review all blasphemy charges prior to filing formal cases. *88 He later rescinded this requirement due to strong pressure from right-wing Muslim groups. Though Pakistan has a long road ahead, the minimum effect of these emerging norms is to render less clear the claim that the majority of Pakistan's peoples truly favor the anti-blasphemy provisions in place.

It is also crucial for a liberalist to note that Ahmadis represent the moderate thread of Islam in Pakistan. In the face of persecution in Pakistan, Ahmadis advocate universal human rights, tolerance, and deliberation. They have condemned militant Islam in vociferous terms. *89 In Pakistan itself, Ahmadis have set up progressive schools, hospitals for the sick and needy, and welfare programs. They have been built inter-religious coalitions against affronts to basic civil and religious liberties. Some estimates calculate that Ahmadis in Pakistan, though only representing 3% of the country's total population, represent nearly 20% of its literate population. *90 Two of Pakistan's most respected personalities: Sir Muhammad Zafrullah Khan External Link - Opens new browser window, Pakistan's first foreign minister and the only person ever to serve as both the president of the U.N. General Assembly (Seventeenth Session from 1962 - 1963) and president of the International Court of Justice (1970 - 1973); and Professor Abdus Salam External Link - Opens new browser window, the first Pakistani Nobel laureate, were both Ahmadis. *91

Intervening on behalf of Ahmadis in Pakistan by calling for the repeal of the anti-blasphemy provisions under the authority of international law is, in fact, entirely consistent with the realist paradigm. *92 Most Muslims are far less militant than one would gather from the harsh rhetoric of their “spokesmen.” What results often from the political power of militant Islam is not only systemic cruelty toward innocent domestic groups, but also the creation of a regime many times more dangerous to the interests of the international community than a moderate, tolerant Islamic regime. To empower Ahmadis would be to encourage political alternatives to emerging militant Islamic groups in Pakistan. Healthy political struggle paralyzes militant Islam. The international community, the United States in particular, would be wise to understand the nature and function of moderate and credible opposition groups to militant Islam like the Ahmadiyya Community.

In sum, the case of the Ahmadis in Pakistan represents a visible and practical outlet by which the United States and other Western democracies may empower moderation in Muslim regimes. To call for the repeal of the anti-blasphemy provisions in Pakistan is a prime opportunity for the international community to gain enormous political advantage over militant Islam, while at that same time elevating the status of the fundamental universal right of religious freedom. The bi-partisan resolution passed by the U.S. Congress *93 identifies prudently this opportunity and, in so doing, furthers the hope that commonalities between the West and Islam may be preserved in the presence of militant Islam, rather than be destroyed by it.

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86
Arzt, supra note 50, at 408.
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87
Within fourteen months of President Musharraf taking office, Islamic fundamentalists set on fire and destroyed two Ahmadi mosques in the Sialkot and Punjab districts respectively, killing ten Ahmadis and injuring a score of others. See Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, Annual Report On International Religious Freedom: Pakistan, http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/9001.pdf External Link - Opens new browser window (Dec. 2001).
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88
See id. at 518.
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89
For example, denouncing a militant perversion of Islam, the Supreme Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Community, Mirza Tahir Ahmad, remarked: “No religion with a universal message . . . under one flag can even momentarily entertain the idea of employing force to spread its message. Swords can win territories, but not hearts. Force can bend heads, but not minds.” MIRZA TAHIR AHMAD, ISLAM'S RESPONSE TO CONTEMPORARY ISSUES External Link - Opens new browser window 42 (1992).
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90
See Siddiq, supra note 4, at 283.
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91
Internationally, now estimated as over 100 million strong, Ahmadis are lauded as peace-loving, law-abiding citizens with remarkable humanitarian interests. Ahmadis can be found in the highest offices of public service, in Europe and West Africa in particular. See Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam: An Overview, at http://alislam.org/introduction External Link - Opens new browser window (last visited Dec. 17, 2002).
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92
Intervention under the authority of international law on behalf of Ahmadis by the United States, or any nation, can be channeled through Pakistan's existing institutions. The Supreme Court of Pakistan, in fact, has deferred to international legal norms in its adjudication. For example, in Shehla Zia v. WAPDA, a case decided only a year after Zaheerudin, the majority court cited as persuasive authority the 1972 Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and the 1992 Rio Declaration to declare that the construction of a grid station in a residential area in Islamabad constituted an affront to a Pakistani citizen's right to life and would lead to environmental degradation. See Shehla Zia v WAPDA, 46 P.L.D. (Sup. Ct. 1994) 693, 710 (Pak.).
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93
See H.R. Res. 348, supra note 9.
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