Why many in Pakistan are vowing 'I'll drink Shezan'

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Islamabad:  Following a ban by a lawyers' group on Shezan juices that are made by an Ahmadi-owned firm, the company's products are being endorsed with new vigour by progressive Pakistanis.

Reams have been written on the "absurd" ban on Shezan juices in court complexes of Pakistan's most populous province of Punjab and a Facebook group "I'll drink Shezan" has been floated.

Many users of Facebook and Twitter have changed their display pictures to an image of a Shezan juice pack and some are a planning a "Shezan party".

The Lahore Bar Association (LBA) banned all drinks made by the Shezan company at court complexes and vowed to take "tough action" against those found buying or selling the products near courts because the firm is owned by an Ahmadi.

The LBA made the decision last week after Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, president of the Khatme Nabuwat Lawyers Forum, moved a motion on the issue.

The Ahmadiyya Times, a website that tracks issues related to the minority Ahmadi community, posted a piece titled "Pakistan: A Shezan a day, keeps the mullah-cult away".

Imran Jattala wrote for the Ahmadiyya Times: "Some of my friends and acquaintances have decided to turn the latest bit of the anti-Ahmadiyya hate campaign in Pakistan on its head".

"They are educated people who believe they know how to deal with another kind of 'educated' class," he said.

"There are bad governments that are discussed as part of the political science curriculums in schools around the world; there are bad armies that are honed-in on in military school discussions; and now, I am afraid, the Pakistani judiciary is about to join the 'bad' lot as a subject matter in world schools," he added.

Ahmadis were declared "non-Muslims" in Pakistan in the 1970s.

Since then, members of the sect have been targeted by religious zealots.

Scores of Ahmadis have died in attacks by banned groups like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba in recent years.

The Express Tribune devoted an editorial to the ban: "Things in our country are really moving from the absurd, to even more absurd... This action takes discrimination against the Ahmadi community to new heights.

"We can only wonder if the instigators of this plot imagine that sipping the 'offensive' drink will in some way contaminate their minds, or alter beliefs.

"The real aim, of course, is to attempt to hurt the economic interests of the Ahmadis who have, through the decades, been subjected to violence in all kinds of different forums...," the editorial said.

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