Treatment of Lahori Ahmadis (1996-present) [PAK39401.E]

A 19 February 2002 article reported that, despite international pressure to do so, the Musharraf government had stated that it had no intention to either amend the Constitution with the purpose of nullifying the provisions declaring Ahmadis non-Muslims or of repealing the blasphemy laws (The News).

A Constitutional amendment introduced by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1974 declared Ahmadis a non-Muslim minority (AI May 2001, sec. 2). Article 260, Clause (3)(b) of the Constitution states:

[A] non-Muslim is a person who is not a Muslim, and include a person belonging to the Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist or Parsi community, a person of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves Ahmadis or by any other name) or a Babai, and a person belonging to any of the scheduled class (The News 19 Feb. 2002).

As well, legislation enacted in 1984 and contained within the Pakistani Penal Code (PPC) made it a criminal offence for Ahmadis to refer to themselves as Muslims, and to "profess, practice and propagate their faith as Muslims (AI May 2001). Section 298 -B of the Pakistan Penal Code states:

(1) Any person of the Quadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves 'Ahmadis' or by any other name) who by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation,
(a) refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a Caliph or companion of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as 'Ameer-ul-Mumineen,' 'Khalifa-tul-Mumnineen', Khalifa-tul-Muslimeen, 'Sahaabi' or 'Razi Allah Anho';
(b) refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a wife of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as 'Ummul-Mumineen';
(c) refers to, or addresses any person, other than a member of the family (Ahle-bait) of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as Ahle-bait; or
(d) refers to, or names, or calls, his place of worship as 'Masjid':
shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine.
(2) Any person of the Quadiani group or Lahori group (who call themselves 'Ahmadis' or by any other name) who by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, refers to the mode or form of call to prayers followed by his faith as 'Azan', or recites Azan as used by the Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine (Pakistan 1997).
Section 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code states:
298-C. Any person of the Quadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves 'Ahmadis' or by any other name), who, directly or indirectly, poses himself as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description of a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine (ibid.).

While not referring to Lahori Ahmadis specifically, the following information on the treatment of Ahmadis generally may be of interest.

According to a 15 September 2001 article, two Ahmadis were killed by "unidentified gunmen" in a village just outside of Sialkot, Punjab (Dawn).

Two articles refer to an attack on an Ahmadi mosque in Syedwalah, Punjab (Dawn 28 Aug. 2001; BBC 27 Aug. 2001). Reportedly, the mosque, which was set on fire and destroyed, was attacked by Sunni Muslims while dozens of Ahmadis were inside (ibid.). According to the Dawn article, the perpetrators were reacting against the satellite transmission into the Ahmadi mosque of a religious programme from Germany, describing it as a "conspiracy" against Islam (28 Aug. 2001). Purportedly, while over two dozen Ahmadis had been "arrested for their own protection during the incident," none of the attackers had been taken into custody (BBC 27 Aug. 2001).

A later article reported that the Punjab Constabulary had been deployed to Syedwala in order to "defuse" tensions that had arisen following the villagers' attack on the mosque (Dawn 29 Aug. 2001). As well, those Ahmadi who had been taken into "protective custody" had been released, guards had purportedly been provided to protect them, and arrests were made late in the night on the day following the incident (ibid.).

A 13 November 2000 Amnesty International press release reported that five Ahmadis, including two children, had been killed in a mosque in the Sargodha district, Punjab, 10 days following the murder on 30 October 2000 of five other members of the Ahmadi community. According to the report, on 10 November 2000, the local mullah "led a mob through the streets shouting anti-Ahmadi slogans" and eventually breaking into the mosque, attacking the people inside and mutilating with axes the bodies of those killed (AI 13 Nov. 2000). Reportedly, the police arrived at the mosque only after the incident was over (ibid.).

Referring to the earlier killings, the report further noted that "the official silence around the religiously motivated murders on 30 October and the lack of police investigation have directly contributed to a climate in which extremists feel encouraged to harass, attack and kill members of the country's religious minorities" and that "police investigations into the 20 killings of Ahmadis over the past seven years have been slow or did not take place at all; not one of the perpetrators has been brought to justice" (ibid.).

A 1997 Amnesty International news release reported that, though most are free on bail, more than 2,000 Ahmadis have various criminal charges relating to their religious activities pending against them (AI 24 July 1997). According to the report, in 1996, 14 Ahmadis had been charged with blasphemy, thus raising the total number facing such charges to 152 (ibid.). The report also notes that, while it is possible for Ahmadis to gain bail, it is often difficult to obtain and even when it is granted Ahmadi prisoners sometimes are still not released (ibid.).

For further information on the treatment of Ahmadis in Pakistan please refer to Amnesty International's May 2001 report entitled "Pakistan: Insufficient Protection of Religious Minorities" available athttp://web.amnesty.org/ai.nsf/Index/ASA330082001? OpenDocument&of=COUNTRIES%5CPAKISTAN, as well as to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan's publication "State of Human Rights in 2000" available in all Regional Documentation Centres and to PAK34958.E of 31 July 2000.

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.

References


Amnesty International (AI). May 2001. "Pakistan: Insufficient Protection of Religious Minorities." (AI Index: ASA 33/008/2001) http://web.amnesty.org/ai.nsf/Index/ASA330082001?OpenDocument&of=COUNTRIES%5CPAKISTAN [Accessed 19 June 2002]

_____.13 November 2000. "Pakistan: More Ahmadis Killed as Government Continues to Ignore Religious Violence." (AI Index: ASA 33/015/2000) http://web.amnesty.org/ai.nsf/index/ASA330152000 [Accessed 20 June 2002]

_____. 24 July 1997. "Pakistan: Persecution of Ahmadis Continues." (AI Index: ASA 33/025/1997) http://web.amsnesty.org/ai.nsf/Index/ASA330251997?OpenDocument&of=COUNTRIES%5CPAKISTAN [Accessed 20 June 2002]

BBC. 27 August 2001. Shahid Malik. "Religious Clash in Pakistani Town." http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/south_asia/newsid_1512000/1512036.stm [Accessed 20 June 2002]

Dawn [Karachi]. 15 September 2001. "Sialkot: Man, Son Killed in 'Sectarian Strike.'" http://www.dawn.com/2001/09/15/local26.htm [Accessed 20 June 2002]

_____. 29 August 2001. "Punjab Constabulary Deployed in Syedwala: Attack on Ahmadis." http://www.dawn.com/2001/08/29/nat26..htm [Accessed 20 June 2002]

_____. 28 August 2001. "Ahmadis' Place of Worship Set on Fire." http://www.dawn.com/2001/08/28/nat22.htm [Accessed 20 June 2002]

The News [Islamabad]. 19 February 2002. Ansar Abbasi. "No plan to Repeal Blasphemy Laws: Govt."http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/feb2002-daily/19-02-2002 [Accessed 18 June 2002]

Pakistan Penal Code (Act No. XLV of 1860). 1997. Lahore: PLD Publishers, p. 102-103.

Additional Sources Consulted


IRB databases

LEXIS/NEXIS

Internet sites including:

European Country of Origin Information Network

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

Human Rights Watch

World News Connection

Search engines:

Google