Note: This piece was originally accepted for publication in a leading Pakistani daily newspaper on May 2nd, only to be declined 4 days later.
During a match in the 1989 India-Pakistan cricket series, K Srikanth started protesting after he was declared out leg-before-the-wicket. Imran Khan, a tiger in the making, gave him a second chance and called him back to play. But Srikanth was caught behind on the very next ball. Then came the World Cup of 1992, where Imran flaunted a T-shirt with an image of a tiger and announced, “I want my team to play like a cornered tiger.” Over the next two decades, the word ‘tiger’ latched onto Imran so tightly that now even his supporters are called tigers.
Alas, on 1 May 2013, the tiger was spotted bleating like a sheep.
The pattern of events is straight out of the anti-Ahmadiyya playbook. A decent Pakistani forgets to treat Ahmadis with contempt, the religious hyenas attack that person’s loyalty to Pakistan and then a tiger – and in this case ‘The Tiger’ – sheepishly offers an apology while throwing an already beleaguered community under the bus.
On 23 March 2013, Pakistani journalists in UK had an audience with the worldwide leader of the Ahmadiyya community, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad. Forty-two minutes into the conversation, a woman by the name of Nadia Ramzan Chaudhry made the political mistake of acknowledging the peaceful values of the Ahmadiyya community and urged Ahmad to support Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the upcoming elections. As the video surfaced on social media outlets, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman accused Imran of receiving financial assistance from the Ahmadis.
Understandably, Imran had to clarify his position. But to release a statement using derogatory language about the already aggrieved community and their leadership is not befitting of a leader whose party’s website projects “Justice, Humanity and Self-Esteem” as its core values.
Where is the tiger whose party constitution’s first objective is to make Pakistan a “country in which all citizens regardless of gender, cast, creed or religion, can live in peace, harmony and happiness?” Obviously, Khan has not spoken to an Ahmadi lately or he would know that they barely have any hope of living in peace under his Pakistan.
Where is the tiger who in this video defined justice as “protecting the weak from the powerful” and espoused that “in Tehrik-e-Insaf there will never ever be injustice to anyone.” Is calling millions of Ahmadis by the derogatory term of “Qadianis” his way of protecting the weak?
Where is the tiger who believed that “any law which discriminates among human beings in unjust” but then goes on to affirm in his press release that it is not part of the PTI agenda to seek amendment to anti-Ahmadiyya laws in Pakistan’s constitution?
Where is the tiger who is reminding all Pakistanis that “your vote can bring a change” and yet sees no injustice in the “separate but equal” voting apartheid against Pakistan’s Ahmadiyya community which keeps them on a separate supplemental list? And the country Ambassador has the audacity to lie to the United Nations in Geneva about the myth of a joint electorate in Pakistan.
The language of PTI’s press release makes it clear: no one is a tiger when it comes to Pakistani politics. Whether it was the roaring ZA Bhutto or the conniving Zia-ul-Haq, whether it was the territorial Pervez Musharaff or the social Nawaz Sharif, all became helpless the minute Pakistani mullahs played the Ahmadi card.
As you go to PTI’s rallies, you may still see a roaring tiger selling you a “Naya Pakistan” but all I see is a sheep, trying to control the helm of the old Pakistan. You may see Imran Khan hitting a six on the stage but I can visualise him protesting and posturing for a second chance.
Don’t worry Mr Khan. Please take the crease. You have your second chance on 11 May. We Ahmadis know what happens next.