U.S. Doctor Is Killed by Gunman in Pakistan

LAHORE, Pakistan — An American doctor volunteering at a hospital in eastern Pakistan was shot to death on Monday in front of his wife and 3-year-old son in the latest attack on a follower of the minority Ahmadi faith at a time of rising intolerance across the country.

One of two men on a motorbike opened fire on the doctor, Mehdi Ali Qamar, 50, a cardiologist based in Ohio, as he entered a cemetery in Rabwah, a town in central Punjab Province that is the main center of the Ahmadi community in Pakistan, the police said.

Dr. Qamar had arrived in Pakistan two days earlier as a volunteer at a hospital in Rabwah that has been a target of an extremist hate campaign in recent months. His wife, sister-in-law and son were with him when the shooting occurred.

The gunman shot Dr. Qamar at least 10 times, and he died immediately, Inspector Rana Anwar, the Rabwah police chief, said in a phone interview. The doctor’s relatives were not injured, the authorities said, and the attackers fled.

“This is a faith-based target killing of a very precious man who was saving humanity,” said Saleem-ud Din, an Ahmadi spokesman. “We want justice.”

It was the second year that Dr. Qamar had volunteered at the Tahir Heart Institute, a hospital specializing in cardiac treatment that is run by the Ahmadi community and treats patients of all faiths. In recent months, religious extremists distributed pamphlets in the area warning Muslims against using the hospital.

“Visiting a doctor or receiving treatment in that hospital is forbidden in Islam and an unforgivable sin,” said one such pamphlet. Mr. Din said the police and other law enforcement agencies had failed to act against those orchestrating the campaign.

The Ahmadi faith offends many orthodox Muslims for its veneration of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a 19th-century Punjabi cleric who Ahmadis believe was a prophet sent by God — in contradiction to the mainstream belief that the Prophet Muhammad was the final prophet.

Bowing to pressure from religious hard-liners in 1974, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s otherwise-secular prime minister, changed the Constitution to discriminate against Ahmadis, who are forbidden to describe themselves as Muslims. In recent years, extremist groups and lone vigilantes have violently attacked Ahmadis numerous times.

A report by the Ahmadi community published last week said that seven Ahmadis were killed in 2013 and that 16 survived attempts on their lives. The violence has increased in recent months as part of a broader increase in intolerance in Pakistan linked to abuses of the colonial-era blasphemy law.

On May 16, a teenage boy wearing a fake police uniform walked into a police station and fatally shot a 65-year-old Ahmadi man who had been accused of blasphemy in a small town east of Lahore.


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