LAHORE – A veterinarian doctor of Ahmadi community was killed in a brazen gun-attack in Lahore’s Sabzazar neighbourhood Friday afternoon, in an apparent faith-based attack.
Police said it was too early to say if Ashfaq Ahmed, a 68-year-old retired professor of the University of Veterinary Sciences in Lahore, was target killed by some anti-Ahmadi militant group.
However, Saleem Uddin, a spokesman for the Jamat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan said Prof Ashfaq was an active member of the Ahmadiyya community and “he was targeted simply because of his faith”.
The deceased, who had a doctorate degree in food and nutrition, was riding in a car along with his grandson and a friend to offer prayers at a worship place in Iqbal Town when he was targeted on the busy road in broad daylight.
An eyewitness told the police that a motorcyclist fired a single bullet from a pistol at point blank range as the car was moving slowly due to the dug up road near Shah Fareed Chowk.
“The victim sustained a bullet in the head and died on the spot,” a police investigator said. His body was moved to the morgue for autopsy. The attacker was wearing a helmet and he fled instantly after the fatal assault.
“Other (two) persons in the car remained unharmed,” Jamat-e-Ahmadiyya spokesman said. “We strongly condemn the killing of second Ahmadi within 10 days,” Saleem said.
The deadly shooting comes just days after another member of Ahmadi community was shot dead in Nankana Sahib district of Punjab. Malik Saleem Latif advocate, a cousin of Nobel winning physicist Abdus Salam, was shot dead near his home in Nankana on March 30.
A police officer said they were investigating the shooting keeping in mind different aspects of the killing. “Apparently, it was an incident of target killing. Investigators are working on this case and the killers would be brought to justice,” the officer said, requesting his name not be mentioned.
Who are Ahmadiyya?
The Ahmadi or Qadiyani are followers of Mirza Ahmad Qadiani. They were declared non-Muslims by the government in 1974 after the parliament of Pakistan passed a law. The legislation was done to set this community aside from the Muslims, as Ahmadis do not have a firm belief in finality of Hazrat Muhammad (SAW)’s prophethood.
As a consequence they were barred from claiming Quran to be their holy book and show any association with the mainstream Islam. So, on many occasions, they have been arrested in the country for reading the Holy Quran, holding religious celebrations and having Quranic verses on rings or wedding cards.
The law was supposed to end the controversy and stop faith-based violence between Muslims and Ahmadis, but this hasn’t happened.
Four years ago, 86 Ahmadis were killed in two simultaneous attacks in Lahore. Eleven members of the community were murdered for their faith in 2014 and authorities failed to apprehend any of the killers, highlighting growing intolerance toward the community.