State-Sanctioned Persecution: Plight of Ahmadis in Pakistan


Photo by @AADIL for ADN

By Fatima Chaudhary

Millions of Ahmadis in Pakistan, home to the largest number of this minority Islamic sect in the world, face volatile threats to their existence, mostly with the active support of the Pakistani state which has banned their faith and labelled them `kafirs` or non-believers. Now even the state-run National Commission for Human Rights Commission has come out with a damning report on the wide range of human rights abuses faced by the Islamic community in a country boasting its identity as that of a nation for Muslims.

The statistics, even if it was far less than real, show the horrific face of the state-sponsored persecution of Ahmadis over the years. The commission recorded an astonishing number of legal charges–765 cases for displaying the Kalima, 47 cases for calling the Azan, 861 cases for preaching, and various others like celebrations of events, like the Ahmadiyya Centenary in 1989 or the 100th anniversary of the eclipses in 1894.

The Ahmadis are among those falsely accused of blasphemy charges–scores are in prison and many are sentenced to harsh punishments on charges which are forged often for personal reasons. Over 300 Ahmadis face such criminal charges. The state’s punitive actions against its own citizens, Muslims by faith, have been so aggressive that the former head of the sect, living in London, was charged sixteen times in absentia. The present sect head, who too has taken shelter in London, faces two charges. On top of individual miseries, the Ahmadi communities face collective punishments which expose the state’s malicious intent against Muslim citizens.

Killings, assaults and destruction of their religious places and graves have become so common that such incidents are rarely reported in the mainstream newspapers. The commission recorded, from 1984 to September 2023, that more than 280 Ahmadis were killed in targeted violence, another 415 faced assaults, 51 Ahmadia worship places were damaged, 39 were set on fire, 18 were forcibly occupied besides 46 others were sealed by authorities.

These are only part of the story. Successive governments have stopped the construction of 62 Ahmadia worship places, forced families to exhume 39 bodies and 96 bodies denied any burial grounds. Such large-scale desecration of burial grounds has only increased over the years. This year alone, 99 Ahmadi graves were desecrated and damaged in different parts of Pakistan.

Smaller but no less horrific incidents rarely get any notice. For instance, the state agencies forcibly removed Kalima from 64 homes and 115 religious places which showed how deep is the discrimination and intolerance among the people and the state against the minority sect.

When the National Commission for Human Rights carried out a field survey in the Ahmadi areas, it found the reality even more horrifying. Students were being rusticated from schools because of their sect and graves were being dug up with no concern for the dignity of the dead. The community informed the commission about the separate electoral list which put them in greater danger of extremist groups, intense discrimination against students in educational institutions, segregation and discrimination at workplaces and various threats issued verbally and on social media.

Such is the state of Ahmadi community in Pakistan that millions living in their country are made to feel like enemies.

Fatima Chaudhary is a lecturer at a private university in Punjab province.

Note: The contents of the article are of sole responsibility of the author. Afghan Diaspora Network will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the articles.    

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