TLP Activists Demand Demolition Of Place Of Worship Built By Pakistan's First Foreign Minister

Locals claim an Ahmadi graveyard was desecrated with several epitaphs demolished under the watch of police and district administration

TLP Activists Demand Demolition Of Place Of Worship Built By Pakistan's First Foreign Minister

Scores of people turned up for a large rally in Daska, Sialkot, on Friday, which had been staged by the politico-religious party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) against places of worship of the Ahmadiyya Community.

The place of worship in question was built by Pakistan's first foreign minister and an integral member of the Pakistan Movement, Sir Zafarullah Khan, prior to Partition.

The rally was staged after TLP made a public announcement in this regard on Thursday, posting banners across the city.

Videos posted on social media showed a large rally walking through the city while blaring slogans and naat from their loudspeakers.

While it was unclear whether they had attacked the place of worship, there were reports that an Ahmadi graveyard had been vandalised.

Saleemud Din, a spokesperson for the Jamat Ahmadiyya Pakistan (JAP) in a message said that the district administration and police cordoned off the graveyard and proceeded to demolish the 74 tombstones before loading the debris and broken epitaphs and fleeing.

Earlier, the TLP filed a complaint with the Daska police, demanding action against the administration of the place of worship. The police, however, suggested the party take up the matter with the district administration and the relevant assistant commissioner as the issue fell under their purview. 

The TLP, however, directed its followers to take the law into their hands and "decide the issue".

The minarets atop the building in question are barely visible, while there is no signage that identifies it as a mosque or a worship place. It is located adjacent to Sir Zafarullah Khan's ancestral residence in Daska.

Sialkot District Police Officer Hassan Iqbal told Dawn that they had increased security around the building and were embroiled in negotiations for a peaceful outcome. 

Can't demolish pre-1984 places of worship

A verdict issued by the Lahore High Court early this month stated that the link between minarets as an identifying feature for Mosques and Islam is not clear. Further, it said that those structures which were built prior to the introduction of the law in 1984 cannot be subject to the law.

The law has been cited by the Ahmadiyya Community several times since as police continued to demolish minarets and other identifying marks outside and inside Ahmadi places of worship. However, it has had little impact on extremists and members of TLP, who continue to target Ahmadi places of worship in a worrying wave of violence.