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Govt Silence Sounds Death Knell for Faisalabad Ahmadis – Nasir Jamal

Source Dawn:

LAHORE, April 16: It is no longer just a doorbell for Mohammad Iqbal and his family; instead it has a ring of alarm about it. As a boy goes to answer the call the other inhabitants form a line of defence behind him should the visitor turn out to be an unwelcome one. Usually the door stays shut until the visitor’s identity is established and his intent known.

It’s been like this since March 8 when four men kidnapped Iqbal’s teenage son Bilal and nephew Shiraz from Iqbal’s home in Madina Town, a middle class locality in Faisalabad, after robbing the household. The kidnappers told the boys later that their family had been targeted because of their Ahmedi faith.

The boys returned home after six days once Iqbal and his elder brother paid Rs2.5 million against an original ransom demand of Rs10 million. The kidnappers have since been arrested, but the life of Iqbal’s family stands totally transformed. The structure of the house has been altered to make it more secure; as this writer sat with the family members in their living room last Thursday, on the table in front lay a revolver and a handgun.

There are many Ahmedi families in Faisalabad who share Iqbal’s insecurities. They have been terrorised by multiple robberies and kidnappings in recent months. The triple murder of the city’s known businessman Ashraf Pervaiz, his brother Masood Javed and nephew Asif Masood on April 1 intensified this terror. The murders took place in a crowded area: yet no eyewitness has come forward so far.

Though there is no evidence, the murdered victims’ family suspects it to be the work of a militant group known for its involvement in the Kashmir ‘jehad’. “Our family is respected and we have no dispute with anyone. The murderers were trained in the use of arms and were well informed about the movement of their target,” a relative of the murdered businessmen, who does not give his name, tells Dawn. Dr Rashid Karim is a homoeopath who was kidnapped last May, taken to the tribal areas, and released after more than five months on payment of Rs10 million. He says his kidnappers had tried to grill him about Ashraf Pervaiz.

The community’s suspicion about the involvement of a militant outfit and its affiliates in the recent robberies, murders and kidnappings is strengthened by the arrest of the four abductors of Iqbal’s son and nephew.

“The triple murder happened only three days after the police apprehended the accused involved in the incident at Iqbal’s home,” DSP Abid Hussain says. “All of them have said they belong to the Jama’at-ud-Da’awa,” he says.

The accused have confessed that they had obtained a decree from a cleric, Maulvi Usman, allowing robbing and killing Ahmedis. Abid says such people distribute a portion of the looted money.

Yet the Ahmedi community in Faisalabad does not just fear the militant group. “It could be a cleric or a known religious group fomenting hatred against our people for no reason or a militant outfit kidnapping or murdering our people for money. It could also be a local resident or some one from Pakhtunkhwa or Karachi or anywhere else,” says a district-level leader of the Ahmedi community, who did not want to give his name.

“They use mosques and universities to spread malicious propaganda against us. We are scared. Some have already moved out of the city.”

Nonetheless, in certain cases Ahmedis have been targeted for financial considerations. Consider a four-page pamphlet urging Muslims to sever all economic ties with Ahmedis. The pamphlet lists 33 businesses – ranging from a photocopier to a drugs store to a jeweller – being run by Ahmedis. The businesses owned by Ashraf Pervaiz’s family are also mentioned in it.

A large number of Ahmedis in

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Fasialabad say they have received threatening letters, ‘advising’ them to renounce their faith, before their homes are raided or relatives abducted. “I received a letter about four months before the kidnapping,” says Iqbal. His brother-in-law also got a letter.

The victims say the robbers and the kidnappers have the details about the daily routine of their targets and about their businesses. Probably this is why police officials have advised Ahmedis to change their daily routine. Most of them heeded the advice seriously. But that too didn’t help some, as the April 1 murders show.

The community leaders link the increasing attacks and crimes to official apathy and police inaction. “All this started in 2008 when some people falsely accused 23 Ahmedi students of the Punjab Medical College (PMC) of blasphemy. Under the pressure of the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), the government and the college administration expelled the accused students. An emboldened SSP used the incident to foment hatred against Ahmedis in the city. Had the government not given in to the SSP the situation today would not have been as bad as it is,” an anonymous community leader argues. He says the PMC incident was followed by the murder of an Ahmedi trader. “A spate of robberies and kidnappings ensued,” he adds.

A major complaint is that none of the cases involving Ahmedis as victims is investigated properly. “The laws and police are the handmaiden of our persecutors,” says an Ahmedi. “Politicians are afraid. A family loses three members and there is not a single word from the chief minister or any other official. Where is Shahbaz Sharif, the self-proclaimed torch-bearer of justice? We deserve to be treated like other citizens but neither the police nor the judiciary is ready to provide us justice.”

About the author

Laila Ebadi

10 Comments

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  • Being Ahmedi, Qadyani, Hindu, Christian or Atheist for that matter is a personal choice. It is sad to see that the constitution of Pakistan which completely recognizes the presence and rights of minorities, gives them complete freedom to practice their faith, we target them on purpose. The Islamic extremists need to know that the whole world would never convert to Islam. People would always choose for themselves and we should not impose our choices on them.

  • There is no shortage in Pakistan of sectarian and other militant outfits that feel justified in murdering Shias, Christians and Ahmadis — or indeed anyone who doesn’t share their views. Most of these organisations have their genesis in the Zia era, a dark chapter in the country’s history which is responsible for rending our social fabric and fanning the flames of intolerance.

    Take the case of Friday’s bloody events in Quetta. First the son of a prominent Shia leader was shot dead outside a bank. And when his body was taken to hospital, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the emergency ward. Responsibility for the deadly attack was taken by the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, an offshoot of the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan.

    It is even more extreme in its views than the outlawed SSP (now called the Ahl-i-Sunnat Waljamaat) and has a history of killing Shias and destroying their property in various parts of Punjab. The Lashkar-i-Jhangvi is active elsewhere in the country as well, as evidenced by Friday’s killings in Quetta. Consider also the plight of Ahmadis living in Faisalabad. As this paper reported on Saturday, the government is looking the other way even as they are robbed, threatened and killed. This terror spree is attributed to the defunct SSP which became emboldened when some Ahmadi students were expelled from a medical college after being falsely accused of blasphemy.

    Instead of taking the accusers to task, the authorities punished the victims. Meanwhile a shadowy cleric has apparently decreed that robbing and killing Ahmadis is permissible.

    The Punjab government needs to act, and act now, to protect Faisalabad’s Ahmadi community and other minorities in the province. But that is perhaps asking too much of an administration whose law minister consorts openly with known extremists. Organisations such as the SSP and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi are proscribed only in name. Their strength remains undiminished and the leader of the Ahl-i-Sunnat Waljamaat is granted audiences with provincial chief ministers and at least one governor. This double-game must end if extremism is to be curbed.

    http://criticalppp.com/archives/9745

  • This is an extremely sad event and must bring the attention of the government on the grievances of minority groups in Pakistan. It is pathetic of law enforcement agencies to purposely delay the investigations in such cases, just because the affected family belonged to a minority group.

  • Perhaps this sort of thing is what is leading to the sad state of Pakistan we see today. What began as a proud nation has reached a low state. I think twice before openly declaring that I am a Pakistani.

  • Extremely sad and nonsensical, when one steps into the geographical boundries of Pakistan he becomes a third class citizen or to be treated so because he is an Ahmadi Muslim and the constitution of Pakistan the very moment will declare and turn him as non Muslim for the purposes of constitution and law [otherwise he will remain a Muslim] and the moment he steps out of Pakistan he becomes a Muslim again what a funny law. No country on the earth has any religion clause in the passport of its citizenship or to avail privileges’ of the same but sadly the only country which has this evil menace is Pakistan which has divided its citizens into sectarianism caused by so called Mullahism which has caused identity problems for all Pakistanis and their lookalike from other countries but still we do not learn lesson from. I see every day on the television programmes, newspapers and statements from the PPP leaders the word “Shaheed”, “Shaheed” if shaheed is the only criteria and characteristic to rule Pakistan then there are lot of shaheeds in them so let them rule the country. History tells us the during the General Ayub’s rule Pakistan progressed heavily because it was a secular state and the then Finance Minister M M Ahmad did not have any scandal of corruption or wrongdoing he was blemish less dedicated and patriot unlike others you have seen recently. Let us learn from it and make our country a secular state or at least state must not interfere in the religious matters of its citizens as declared by the founder Hazrat Quaid-i-Azam RA.

  • 1. May 17th, 2010 at 04:43 | #5
    Reply | Quote
    Extremely sad and nonsensical, when one steps into the geographical boundries of Pakistan he becomes a third class citizen or to be treated so because he is an Ahmadi Muslim and the constitution of Pakistan the very moment will declare and turn him as non Muslim for the purposes of constitution and law [otherwise he will remain a Muslim] and the moment he steps out of Pakistan he becomes a Muslim again what a funny law. No country on the earth has any religion clause in the passport of its citizenship or to avail privileges’ of the same but sadly the only country which has this evil menace is Pakistan which has divided its citizens into sectarianism caused by so called Mullahism which has caused identity problems for all Pakistanis and their lookalike from other countries but still we do not learn lesson from it. I see every day on the television programmes, newspapers and statements from the PPP leaders the word “Shaheed”, “Shaheed” if shaheed is the only criteria and characteristic to rule Pakistan then there are lot of shaheeds in the Army so let them rule the country. History tells us the during the General Ayub’s rule Pakistan progressed heavily because it was a secular state and the then Finance Minister M M Ahmad did not have any scandal of corruption or wrongdoing he was blemish less dedicated and patriot unlike others you have seen recently. Let us learn from it and make our country a secular state or at least state must not interfere in the religious matters of its citizens as declared by the founder Hazrat Quaid-i-Azam RA.

  • the authorities as well as the people in general should feel ashamed and alarmed at the plight of ahmedis in Pakistan. it is every bit the peoples responsibility to ensure that those living in their midst, that are threatened, be made to feel safe. the general populace of pakistan has failed spectacularly to provide these people, many of whom are our friends and people that we hold in high regard, this protection. we are too afraid of these confused, hate mongering militant entities that find the justification from god knows where to kill other people. i am a muslim and consider myself reasonably ‘devout’. i pray and read the quran and study it. never have i ever found any justification or impulse to call anybody else a non muslim and declare that they should be killed. it is wrong to kill people and to think that you, an imperfect human being yourself, are in a position to decide who is a ‘true’ muslim and who is not and who gets to live and who does not. our concern need only be that we give the best account of ourselves to god and to those that we live with us and need us. right now this persecuted minority needs us. it needs our support and love, not our hatred. Let God decide whether they are muslims or not. as far as we are concerned they are nice people just like us that should be protected from these horrible and violent people. let us promise ourselves that we will not bow down to people that kill and spread hate like the militant organizations operating in faislabad and mentioned here. if ever there will be a need for ‘true’ muslims to fight for humanity it is now. fight for peace. fight for harmony. let God decide the rest.

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