Information on the situation of Ismaili Muslims and whether they face problems from extremists (2002-2003) [PAK42001.E]

Information on the situation of Islmaili Muslims and whether they face problems from extremists was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

According to the International Religious Freedom Report 2002, Ismaili Muslims, a Shia Muslim sub-sect, live predominantly in Karachi and the northern region of Pakistan (7 Oct. 2002, Sec. I). While the report states that "most victims of religious violence in the country are Shi'a Muslims" and goes on to document the violent deaths of Shi'a followers, it maintains that the situation for Ismailis is different (International Religious Freedom Report 2002 7 Oct. 2002, Sec. III). Without providing specific examples, Ismaili Muslims are reportedly "pressured" to conform to conservative Muslim practices and are resented by the majority Sunnis for their higher economic status, but they do not face problems with the Pakistani government or religious extremist groups (ibid.). No corroborating information could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

The Aga Khan, spiritual leader for most Ismaili Muslims, visited Pakistan in May 2003 and met with President Musharraf at his home (AFP 2 May 2003). The International Religious Freedom Report 2002 alleges that officials from Ismaili headquarters, including the Aga Khan, regularly visit the country and that Ismaili Muslims communicate with their international counterparts on a regular basis (7 Oct. 2002, Sec. II).

While no further references to Ismaili Muslims could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate, several 2003 news reports document violent attacks on Shi'ite mosques in Malir and Quetta (The News 27 Feb. 2003; ibid. 5 July 2003; Sunday Observer 6 July 2003).

In 2002, the Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom called on President Musharraf to provide better protection for religious minorities in Pakistan after several Shi'a and Christian minorities were killed in violent attacks during 2001 and 2002 (9 Aug. 2002).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Agence France Presse (AFP). 2 May 2003. "Aga Khan Arrives on 3-Day Visit to Pakistan, Meets Musharraf." (Dialog)

Center for Religious Freedom. 9 August 2002. "Freedom House Calls on Pakistani President to Protect Religious Minorities." (Press Release) [Accessed 26 Sept. 2003]

International Religious Freedom Report 2002. 7 October 2002. "Pakistan." United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 26 Sept. 2003]

The News [Islamabad]. 5 July 2003. "Pakistan Paper Reports Violence, Calls for Strike in Quetta After Mosque Attack." (BBC Monitoring/Dialog)

_____. 27 February 2003. Azfar-ul-Ashfaque. "Pakistan Cracks Down on Religious Extremists in Sindh Province." (BBC Worldwide Monitoring/NEXIS)

Sunday Observer [Colombo]. 6 July 2003. "Pakistan Mosque Attackers 'Ignorant and Wild' - Musharraf." http://www.Sunday [Accessed 7 July 2003]

Additional Sources Consulted


IRB Databases

Internet sites, including:

Amnesty International

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

Human Rights Watch

Center for Religious Freedom


World News Connection

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