Hatred of none and love of all is a pretty good maxim by which to live your life.
But that love – and willingness to live in peace alongside others– has too often been repaid with hatred: with intolerance, harassment, discrimination and outright persecution. Even murder.
We have been reminded, of the cold blood killing, four years ago, of Mr. Asad Shah, the Glasgow shopkeeper.
Tanveer Ahmed, his murderer, admired Mumtaz Qadri.
It was Qadri who assassinated the courageous Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer – whose remarkable son we have heard from tonight.
His father had worked with Shahbaz Bhatti, the Minister for Minorities, on proposals to reform the Blasphemy Laws and to promote a culture of peaceful coexistence. Bhatti’s murdered has never been brought to justice.
If the murderer of a Government Minister is not brought to justice what chance has anyone else of securing justice?
Here in the UK, on sentencing Ahmed to life imprisonment Judge Lady Rae said that Mr.Shah was a “peaceful and peace-loving man and family man who went out of his way to show respect for those of any faith.”
She said his murder was an “appalling display of merciless violence” and told Ahmed that he was responsible for the “barbaric, premeditated and wholly unjustified killing of a much loved man who was a pillar of the local community.”
Shahbaz Taseer told our Inquiry:
“Mumtaz Qadri, who shot my father, silenced an entire country, created an atmosphere of fear… It is a very dangerous atmosphere, where your own bodyguard, who is supposed to protect you, puts 26 bullets in your back because you believe that a woman should not be rotting in jail.
In this dangerous atmosphere of fear, Ahmadi mosques have been demolished, houses and businesses set on fire, leaflets and hate speech rampant calling Ahmadis ‘liable to be killed’ with Ahmadis subject to brutal target killings; and even the digging up of graves and the desecration of cemeteries.
One witnesses told the Inquiry that “Persecution is so rife that it has been be described as being akin to an impending genocide“
This has been going on year in and year out accompanied by a shocking silence and apparent indifference.
In 2011 in Parliament I raised the murder of 98 defenceless Ahmadis killed in Lahore while they were at prayer.
At the time the Asian Human Rights Commission said the killing was systematic and targeted, that “extremists openly plan to kill hundreds of Ahmadis while the government turns a blind eye”. I pointed to a culture of impunity with no prosecution of perpetrators over the previous 15 years of violent and often fatal attacks.
In 2015 I visited the detention centres in South East Asia where fleeing Ahmadis and Christians are caged like wild animals and called for the resettlement of families , some of whom have been stranded for years
In 2019, after a visit to Pakistan with the APPG for Pakistan Minorities, of which I am co-chair, I called for a review of the £383,000 in British taxpayers’ money which we spend each and every single day – £2.8 billion over 20 years – and that the “religion blind” mantra of DFID has meant that it rarely reaches the people who are targeted by these campaigns of hatred.
It is difficult to see how this funding is used as leverage or to tip the scales of justice.
That impression was re-enforced during the course of the Inquiry which has led to this important Report.
We heard shocking accounts – which require action primarily by the Government of Pakistan but there are things which the UK Government and the international community can do as well.
For instance, on page 123, the Report calls on the UK Government to prevent hate preachers from entering the UK, preventing anti-Ahmadi Hate in the UK and allowing Ahmadi Refugees to settle the UK.
It calls on the Pakistan Government to restore the voting rights of Ahmadi Muslims and to release Ahmadi prisoners currently on death row. And it also makes recommendations to the Judiciary of Pakistan.
Senior judicial figures, some of whom I have met and hold in high regards, should study Recommendation 14, which look at how the crime reporting process can easily be manipulated by extremist mobs to charge Ahmadi Muslims with blasphemy.
The decision making process of FIR complaints should be centralised and overseen by a specially trained regional unit rather than local police stations.
We must combat hatred and violence wherever it emerges.
As recently as July 3rd I asked a parliamentary question about the support voiced by a Pakistan State Minister for an anti-Ahmadiyya twitter campaign which called for Ahmadis to be punished by death.
But hatred has its origins in attitudes inculcated in the cradle.
As Dr Mohammad Abdus Salam told us:
“This hatred against the minorities originates and is further strengthened by the text books. The school books present a twisted, narrow minded and distorted world view,”
Hear again what witnesses told us that “Persecution is so rife that it has been be described as being akin to an impending genocide“ that “persecution is across the board…denying them their fundamental human rights.”
Pakistan must return to its foundation principles, including the affirmation of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including Article 18, the right to believe, not to believe, or to change your belief – principles which Muhammad Ali Jinnah incorporated into Pakistan’s foundation principles. I hope this Report helps Pakistan to make that journey back to its origins.