APPG releases detailed report on Ahmadi situation in Pakistan, suggests safety measures for community

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LONDON: A 168-page report by UK-based All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Ahmadi Community has revealed details about the discrimination Ahmadi community has been facing in Pakistan.

Published recently, the report titled “Suffocation of the Faithful – the persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan and the rise of International Extremism” categorically says that persecution against the peace-loving community intensified following the partition of the Indian subcontinent and the formation of Pakistan.

Siobhain McDonag MP (Chair, APPG)

It said, “Ahmadis played a pivotal role in the creation of Pakistan and supported those who considered the new country was best established as a secular state that enshrined freedom of religion. This put them at odds with radical religio-political movements who sought to establish Pakistan in line with their vision of a so-called Shari’ah based system of law. As such, they sought to remove Ahmadis from positions of influence and leveraged religious differences to broaden the appeal of their campaign to make Pakistan an ‘Islamic’ state”.

“This culminated in the events of 1974 when Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto turned the anti-Ahmadi movement into fully-fledged state-sponsored persecution. He enacted a 1974 Constitutional Amendment specifically targeting Ahmadis, declaring them ‘not Muslims for purposes of law and constitution’. It was a watershed moment in Pakistan’s history”, said the report.

In Pakistan today, anti-Ahmadis sentiment is as strong and violent as ever. The report narrated the most infamous event of 28 May 2010. It said, “Two Ahmadi places of worshipin Lahore were attacked. 86 Ahmadis and a Christian were massacred.

Mobs of hundreds have attacked their places of worships and the grave of Pakistan’s first Nobel Laureate has been desecrated and the word ‘Muslim’ scrubbed from his tombstone. Ahmadi Muslims have been denied the right to vote in Pakistan, and their core religious texts and websites are banned”.

The APPG Inquiry heard disturbing evidence that anti-Ahmadi hatred is taught to children in schools, including in their textbooks. The APPG also raised concern over Pakistan’s National Action Plan (NAP) which came into force on 24 Dec. 2014 following the Taliban attack on an army public school in Peshawar on 16 Dec. 2014.

APPG said in its report, “This legislation was aimed at stopping sectarian hatred and extremism but it has been used by the state to target Ahmadis and other religious communities. This has profound implications, as under anti-terror legislation an Ahmadi can be arrested without notice and without recourse to bail. The penalty is a mandatory five-year sentence of imprisonment”.

The APPG Inquiry also noted with grave concern how anti-Ahmadis hatred is now being exported across the globe.”It learned of how the same pattern of anti-Ahmadi agitation, hatred and extremism has spread to other countries such as Indonesia and Algeria that has resulted in violence and persecution of Ahmadis in those countries”, said the detailed report.

It added, “It also noted with deep concern how this has created a refugee crisis in countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka where more than 6,000 refugees are stranded awaiting resettlement despite being granted UNHCR refugee status and accepted as being vulnerable and at-risk”.The All-Party Parliamentary Group call for the repeal of anti-Ahmadi laws in Pakistan and some of its key recommendations to the Government of Pakistan include restoring the voting rights of Ahmadis, removing the publications ban on Ahmadi literature and ensure full freedom of religion for all religious communities in Pakistan.

It is pertinent to mention here what in the report, word Muslim was mentioned with Ahmedi and their places of worship were mentioned as mosques which Muslims don’t like to be called.

The murder of a Southside shopkeeper Asad Shah by Tanveer Ahmed is also mentioned in the report and said that a “religious fanatic” has been hailed by extremists. The APPG has warned zealouts have turned the killer of Asad Shah into a “hero”. 

The report, published by a cross-party group of MPs including Glasgow Central’s Alison Thewliss, called on the Government to take immediate action to stop the spread of “anti-Ahmadi hate” from Pakistan.

It says the religiously-motivated killing of Asad in 2016 should serve as evidence that hate speech is being “left unchecked across borders”. Extremist Tanveer Ahmed travelled to Glasgow from Yorkshire to stab Asad, 40, to death at his Minard Road shop after the newsagent posted videos online urging religious tolerance.

The 32-year-old killer, who had links to anti-Ahmadi preachers in Pakistan, was jailed for 27 years but continued to send hate messages to supporters from his cell in Barlinnie. The report said the killing was a “flashpoint” for rising hatred in the UK.

It said: “The murder is a shocking reminder of the threat of such hate in the UK and is a stark example of how anti-Ahmadi Muslim extremism has been allowed to permeate into the United Kingdom.

The report made several recommendations to the Government, including that it should ensure Ofcom monitors channels that encourage hate speech.

Chairwoman of the APPG, MP Siobhain McDonagh, said the report had identified the “overspill of hatred against Ahmadi Muslims to the UK”. She said: “From vile attacks on social media to bullying at schools to the deprivation of employment opportunities, hatred against Ahmadi Muslims has reached the streets of Britain.

“This culminated in the senseless murder of Asad Shah in Glasgow in 2016 by a man enthused by what he saw in Pakistan.The recommendations in this report make it unequivocally clear that as an All-Party Parliamentary Group, we demand the ban of such hate preachers from the entering the UK and for hatred online and on social media to have no hiding place.” (ANI, Asian Image)