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OPINIONS ON SUPREME COURT JUDGMENT
DR. KAREN PARKER
footnotes in original given in square brackets - SS
On July 3, 1993, the Supreme Court of Pakistan decided Mujib-ur-Rehman Dard v. Pakistan (the Ahmadi case)…the Court refused to find Ordinance XX of 1984, which severely penalizes Ahmadi Muslims for holding their religious beliefs and practicing their religion in violation of either Pakistan's Constitution or international human rights law…five criminal defendants… were returned to jail for the remainder of their sentences imposed for wearing a religious badge containing the Kalima Tayyaba. [The Kalima Tayyaba, a pronouncement of faith in Allah and Muhammad as His messenger is cardinal to Muslims.]
The three international instruments safeguarding religious freedoms all provide for some limitations on the right to manifest a belief…when "necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others" [Religious Declaration, Article 1….] Limitations may not be imposed in order to provide a theological preference limiting rights of one group over another…
It is patently obvious that Ordinance XX violates these international standards because it penalizes Ahmadi Muslims for believing they are Muslim and for worshiping and assembling as they wish…It denies to them even the language and terminology of their religion…it clearly subjects Ahmadi Muslims to persecution…
In adopting its resolution 1985/21, the UN Sub-Commission had clearly rejected justifications presented by the government of Pakistan … The real gravamen of the Pakistani position at that time was that Ahmadis offend because Ahmadis consider themselves Muslim, which of course, they have the right to do under international standards. In defending Ordinance XX, then President General Zia-ul-Haq told this author "Ahmadis offend me because they consider themselves Muslim … Ordinance XX may violate human rights but I don't care." [Author's interview with General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, in Rawalpindi at Army House (May 5, 1986)]
Pakistan's Constitution protects the right … to "profess, practice and propagate  religion" [Const. Pakistan, Art. 20 (a).] and the right of religious groups "to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions." [Id., Art. 20 (b). Article 20 contains a limitation provision similar to provisions in the international instruments.] … many hoped that the Supreme Court would restore basic rights of Ahmadi Muslims by finding Ordinance XX unconstitutional light of Article 20 of the Constitution.
The majority then provides a series of decisions from other jurisdictions on … limitations to religious practices … Not one of these decisions … addresses the types of limitations and criminalization of religious beliefs found in Ordinance XX and cannot be properly cited to defend such limitations. Indeed, if these cases were correctly read, they would all support a finding that Ordinance XX, by criminalizing prayer, religious terminology and the inherently benign practice at issue in this case (wearing the Kalima Tayyaba), clearly provides for unacceptable limitations …
… The author is not unaware of … the serious difficulties facing the government as it seeks to preserve the unity of Pakistan… The Sikri group, the Deobandi group and Shi'a Muslims are but a few of other Muslim groups who have faced vehement hatred from other Muslims. Sikh, Christian, Hindu, Parsi, and Buddhist groups have also faced hatred and discrimination. Pakistan has suffered from ethnic animosity as well. All of these hatreds are fueled by official actions such as those directed against the Ahmadi Muslims, and can not but serve to further tear apart the social cohesion necessary to maintain national unity.
from the report:
RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION IN PAKISTAN:
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF PAKISTAN
From: Vol.IV No.IV October 1993
The Supreme Court of Pakistan dismissed a set of petitions challenging the various provisions of Ordinance XX of 1984 which prohibits Ahmadis from professing Islam as their religion, preaching their faith, calling their places of worship `mosque', reciting the Azan and using Muslim phrases and terminology. The net result of this decision was seen to be to legalize all the restrictions imposed on Ahmadis and to sanction violation of their fundamental rights.
A five member bench of the Supreme Court delivered its judgment in the case on July 5, 1993. This decision was said to have singled out Ahmadis for discriminatory treatment. Their victimisation was made much more easy now.
Following passages of the decision are to be particularly noted.
The Supreme Court touched the most sensitive nerve of the Muslim masses by equating Ahmadis with the notorious `Rushdi'.
The decision created serious apprehensions among Ahmadis that they would be made the target of hatred and persecution by the mullah and other fanatic and hostile elements. It is believed that as a result of this decision more and more Ahmadis will be implicated for the violation of the anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance on innumerable grounds.
The decision justifies the practice of implicating Ahmadis under 295-C which awards the death sentence for defiling the name of the Holy Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon Him). The following passage of the Supreme Court verdict is quite obvious in this regard:
The Supreme Court also enlarged the scope of the Ordinance by giving its sanction to implicating Ahmadis on the grounds which were not specifically mentioned in the anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance e.g. `Displaying of Kalima' etc. As such, hundreds of Ahmadis against whom cases are pending in the lower courts about which they have been pleading that they committed no violation of the Ordinance by displaying `Kalima' or performing other religious practices as these were not specifically prohibited by the Ordinance, now stand no chance of getting acquittal from the courts.
LAWYER'S COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
The Rev. Robert F. Drinan, S.J.
In an article "Pakistan Falls Short on Religious Freedom" Christian Science Monitor, Wednesday, January 5, 1994
…A decision of the Pakistani Supreme Court last July has effectively closed the door to any legal redress for the intolerance and persecution that the Ahmadiyya Muslims have been encountering in Pakistan for the last two decades.
…all civilized nations have cherished freedom of conscience, thought, and religion…Pakistan's Constitution also embodies and upholds these freedoms…
…most amazingly, the justices justified the laws prohibiting the Ahmadis the use of Islamic phrases by drawing a parallel from the trade laws prohibitive of trade and merchandise marks. This is a distasteful monetization of something spiritual and sublime. Furthermore, the Supreme Court's decision encourages religious intolerance and violence against Ahmadis…
…By stating that allowing an Ahmadi to display Islamic symbols in public is like creating a Salman Rushdie out of him, the Court has made a direct incitement to kill Ahmadis…
LAWYER'S COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
In a letter addressed to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan the LCHR stated that:
and reminded the Chief Justice that
(LCHR, New York, letter dated February 4, 1994)
In a letter addressed to the High Commissioner of Pakistan in London Lord Avebury remarked on the possible consequences of the Court's excuse that allowing Ahmadi Muslims to carry out their religious obligations would pose a threat to law and order:
(Lord Averbury's letter to the Pakistani High Commissioner, dated February 4, 1994.)
LAWYER's COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
In a letter to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan the Executive Director of the LCHR tried to educate the Supreme Court on precedents in US law that the majority had cited in its judgement of the Ahmadi case: