Has Captain Safdar shown the real face of PML-N?
PML-N lawmaker and son-in-law of former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, Captain Safdar while launching a spiteful attack on the Ahmadi community said that he wanted to bring a resolution which puts a bar on the induction of Ahmadis in the armed forces. The former infantry officer said that this must be done “because their’s is a false religion, in which there is no concept of jihad for Allah.”
The beleaguered MNA, who was arrested by the anti-graft court in relation to the Avenfield reference earlier this week, continued his virulent diatribes against the Ahmadis, uninterrupted by fellow MNAs, giving air to the impression that the community continues to be excommunicated by those who are in the higher echelons of power.
Safdar has also been an unequivocal supporter of Mumtaz Qadri, the one who killed Governor Punjab, Salman Taseer for his alleged involvement in blasphemy in 2011
In his cavalier hot-headed manner, Safdar supported his demand for exclusion of Ahmadis from the armed forces by saying that the country was bound to lose the 1971 war when the commander of the Rawalpindi-based X Corps was Lt Gen Abdul Ali Malik and the Commander-in-chief of the Airforce was Air Marshal Zafarullah.
Safdar’s rage against the Ahmadi community made him forget that X Corps was not even raised in 1971(raised in 1974), and Air Marshal Rahim Khan was the Commander-in-Chief during the 1971 war. The Ahmadi community was declared “Non-Muslims” through a Constitutional Amendment by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1974.
Regarded by many as a liberal and secular leader, Bhutto was labeled as a martyr by Captain Safdar. “We have faith in Khatm-i-Naboowat. This is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a country of 220 million people…I call Zulfikar Ali Bhutto a shaheed because he protected the idea of finality of prophethood and was hanged for doing so,” said Safdar.
Analysts are of the view that while the PML-N is positioning itself as a liberal party, one that is willing to dismantle “radical liabilities”, its quietness is a testament to its deep-rooted politics of the right
The amendment in 1974 was not the be-all and the end-all of ostracization of the Ahmadi community. The members of the Ahmadi faction were sidelined; the regime of General Zia made it a punishable offense if Ahmadis call themselves Muslims. Further, they are debarred from preaching and propagating their message or going to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage.
International watchers have often chastised Pakistan for meting out venom against the community. It is also believed that the state has left little scope for acknowledging the contributions of the Ahmadis towards Pakistan. Captain Safdar gave a fair degree of credence to those observations when he demanded to strip off the name of Dr. Abdus Salam from the Physics Centre of the Quaid-e-Azam University on the mere grounds of the Nobel Laureate being from the Ahmadi community.
The Abdus Salam Physics center was approved by the former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif which was followed by the initiation of the Professor Abdus Salam Fellowship for Ph.D. students in December 2016.
Safdar went on a tirade against him while requesting Jamaat-e-Islami MNA Sahibzada Tariqullah to bring forth a resolution against the renaming of the QAU physics center
However, Safdar went on a tirade against him while requesting Jamaat-e-Islami MNA Sahibzada Tariqullah to bring forth a resolution against the renaming of the QAU physics center. Safdar said that Professor Salam was “a controversial figure that has been termed an infidel in light of the Constitution”.
A Real Dent
The virulent barrage of criticism hurled by Captain Safdar has put the PML-N in the quandary. Days before the outburst, the measured and well-articulated interior minister, Ahsan Iqbal, on the floor of the house warned against dishing out edicts to people. He asserted:
“If we start handing out fatwas on kufr [cardinal sin] in every street and neighborhood, and the Maulvi in every street mosque starts handing out fatwas about who is a kafir [a heretic] and who is Muslim, then [there will be chaos]. It is only up to God to decide who is going to heaven and hell — it is not our job,”
Political pundits are of the opinion that the severe censure of the Ahmadi community by not only a sitting MNA of the PML-N but also a member of the Sharif family will greatly damage and dispel the international image that the party is trying to portray. Analysts are of the view that while the PML-N is positioning itself as a liberal party, one that is willing to dismantle “radical liabilities”, its quietness is a testament to its deep-rooted politics of the right.
Safdar has also been an unequivocal supporter of Mumtaz Qadri, the one who killed Governor Punjab, Salman Taseer for his alleged involvement in blasphemy in 2011. Some political commentators opined that the PML-N has to balance-off its attempts to give a liberal touch to the party with keeping the majority of the conservative vote-bank. No PML-N or government official has spoken about the issue; this will make the situation a bit more difficult for the ruling party.