Ahmadis in Pakistan fear ‘targeted’ persecution

KARACHI (Web Desk) – Fear has gripped the Ahmadiyya community in the country after a middle-aged man was shot dead earlier this week in the Gulshan-e-Iqbal area of Pakistan’s biggest city, Karachi.

Dawood Ahmad, 55, son of Ghulam Muhiyuddin, was shot dead in Gulzar Hijri, within the limits of Mobina Town police station late Tuesday night by unidentified assailants.

“He was waiting for his friend outside his house when two men came on a motorcycle. They opened fire at him and fled,” said a press statement by the Ahmadiyya community.

His remains will be brought to Rabwah for burial, the statement added.

The assailants also fired shots at Ahmad’s friend who hurried to help him. Both were rushed to the Patel Hospital in Gulshan-e-Iqbal and then to Liaquat National Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. His friend’s condition is reported to be stable now.

Ahmad was later on taken to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where doctors confirmed he was shot at least four times.

The victim is survived by three sons; his wife died a few years ago.

“Ahmad was a noble, practicing Ahmadi who had no personal vendetta with anyone. He was targeted solely for being an Ahmadi,” said the statement by the Ahmadiyya community.

“Thirty Ahmadis have been killed in Karachi [since 1984] and not a single murderer has been brought to justice till now,” Jamaat Ahmadiyya spokesperson Saleemuddin said while demanding immediate arrest of the killers.

Police said they are investigating the case. “The assailants took advantage of the darkness as there was a suspension of power supply in the area when the incident occurred,” said SHO Muhammad Ayub.

Since its inception, Pakistan has been in the midst of a fight to define its religious and cultural identity that has at times been hijacked by xenophobic elements.

It has been 40 years since Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims through an amendment in the Constitution of Pakistan that enjoyed popular support among the religious right in addition to some quarters of the left.

Following the amendment, Pakistan’s first Noble prize winner Dr Abdus Salam, who was an Ahmadi, was vilified, due to which he was forced to leave the country.

Despite playing a pivotal role in the politics of the country since its inception, Ahmadis have been alienated within society and their political influence has gradually waned.

Years of discrimination against the community and its persistent vilification have led to extreme apathy within the nation’s majority groups. Even the mass murder of Ahmadis in Lahore on 28 May 2010 failed to elicit any kind of public outrage.

Last year in November, an extremist mob numbering thousands attempted to murder Ahmadi Muslims at a chip-board factory in Jhelum. The violence then spread to the nearby town of Kala Gojran, where a second set of rioters ransacked the Ahmadiyya mosque, Bait ul Zikr.

The riots began when a local man falsely accused the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of desecrating the Quran.

An elderly lady and two children were murdered in a similar incident in Gujranwala.

Religious persecution is one of the most pressing human rights issues in Pakistan. Religious minorities have been the preferred targets of fundamentalists. However, Pakistani authorities have so far been either unable or unwilling to curb the activities of these groups.

Hate speech in places of worship and within the media against the minorities largely goes unnoticed by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), which has a number of legal tools at its disposal to deal with such crimes, especially since the promulgation of the National Action Plan (NAP), the country’s first counter terrorism policy. NAP makes specific reference to hate speech in mosques and on the media, calling for curbs against it.

Ahmadis say the trend of violence is “deliberately allowed to spiral out of control”, making it difficult for the beleaguered community to live in Pakistan.

They also point out the loopholes in the National Action Plan that was devised primarily to curb religious hatred and fundamentalism.

State bias and prejudice is apparent in the judicial and administrative attitude towards the Ahmadis as well, as they are denied promotion and jobs in state departments.

They are not even allowed to openly profess their beliefs, while their properties and graves are subjected to horrific acts of vandalism by unruly fundamentalists.

According to Article 20 of Pakistan’s constitution, (a) Every citizen shall have the right to profess, practice, and propagate his religion; and (b) Every religious denomination and every sect thereof shall have the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions.”

Furthermore, the International Covenant on Civil Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Pakistan is a signatory, specifically prohibits any curb on the freedom under Article 18 (2): “No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.”

However, after this latest incident of violence, the Pakistani government seems a long way from fulfilling its constitutional duty and its obligations under international law to protect minorities, including Ahmadis.


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