‘Why single us out?’
Amir Mahmood remembers a meeting between his Ahmadi community and top officials of Pakistan's government last September. He can't forget how the community, for long a victim of persecution in the country, saw a decline in attacks on its graves and shrines in the days after that meeting. But that respite did not last. As the world's fifth-most populous nation voting today, its half-million-strong Ahmadi community will boycott the election, after a spike in attacks on its members, institutions and even burial sites in the weeks leading up to the vote. For many Ahmadis, like Mahmood, the brief decline in attacks following the September meeting was proof of what could happen — if the country's leaders wanted it. "What the decline in attacks told us that if the state wishes, it can easily control the violence against us but unfortunately, the impression we get is that either some government is not clear-minded about its action, or is unwilling to help," he said. It is a sentiment driven by decades of entrenched discrimination, including in the electoral system. And it has led the community to boycott the elections, reports Al Jazeera online.