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Declaration of faith compulsory before seeking public office: court

Press Trust of India  |  Islamabad 

A Pakistani high court today ordered that anyone seeking public office should declare his religious belief, a verdict said to be a major victory for hardliners in the Muslim-majority country.

High Court (IHC) announced the verdict in a case about controversial changes in the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat (finality of prophethood) oath in the Elections Act 2017.

The ruled that it was compulsory for all Pakistanis to take an oath regarding their faith if they seek to join the civil service, the armed forces or the judiciary.

"Citizens applying for jobs in state institutions must take an oath which ensures compliance with the definition of Muslim and non-Muslim provided in the Constitution," Justice Siddiqui said the short order.

Siddiqui took up the case when a group of hardline clerics blocked a major highway leading to capital in November last year to protest against the changes in the oath and ended the protest after government sacked

The clerics alleged that the Elections Act 2017 changed the oath to facilitate Ahamdiyya people who were declared as non-Muslims by the parliament in 1974.

Khatm-i-Nabuwwat is core of Islamic faith and means that Mohammad is the last prophet and there will be no prophet after him.

Ahmadiyyas were declared as non-Muslims for not allegedly believing in Khatm-i-Nabuwwat.

Hardline clerics allege that Ahmadiyyas hide their true faith to join sensitive jobs and had been demanding that it should be mandatory that everyone applying for public office should declare his beliefs.

The problem arises as the Ahmadiyyas do not consider them as non-Muslims and use names like other people in Normally, it is not possible to identify someone as Ahmadiyya.

"The Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath is the foundation of our religion and it is the duty of every Muslim to protect this core belief," Justice Siddiqui said in the order.

The also said that hiding religious belief was fraud and asked the (Nadra) to give a deadline to correct religion in identification documents in case it was wrong.

Justice Siddiqui further ordered that educational institutions must ensure that teachers appointed to teach Islamic Studies should be true Muslims. He further ordered that faith of a citizen should be mentioned in birth certificate, national identity cards, voter list and passports.

The verdict is major victory of hardliners who were pressing that Ahmadiyyas working in government offices should be identified.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 09 2018. 18:00 IST
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