World Shia Forum

Identity, Equality, Unity

Memri Report: Calls to put Pakistan on genocide watch – by Tufail Ahmad

Source: Memri

Table of Contents

Introduction
Persecution and Genocide Of Shi’ite Muslims
Persecution Of Christians
Persecution Of Hindus And Sikhs
Persecution Of Ahmadi Muslims
Conclusion

Introduction

[LUBP Editor’s comment: In recent years thousands of Shiite Muslims, dozens of Ahmadiyya Musims, Christians and Hindus have been killed in Pakistan at the hands of religious fanatics. According to an estimate, at least 19,000 Shia Muslims of all ethnic backgrounds have been killed by Takfiri Salafist-Deobandi groups.] Close observers of Pakistan have voiced concern that the country is witnessing a gradual genocide of its minorities, the extent of which remains unrecognized by international human rights organizations. In April 2012, Nitin Pai, founder of the New Delhi-based think tank Takshashila Institution, expressed concern over the “systematic” killing of Pakistan’s minorities, saying: “[The attacks] are called sectarian violence, gang warfare, ethnic cleansing, kill-and-dump or counter-insurgency. It is perhaps because there are individual names for these crimes that we are missing the possibility that they might amount to a bigger one – genocide.”[1] Similar concerns have been raised by others in Pakistan and abroad, particularly by the Shi’ite Hazara community.[2] It should be noted that there have been previous cases of under-reported mass-killings in Pakistan which have been described as genocide, notably the massacre of some three million Bangla-speaking Muslims in 1971 (see image below of a 2007 protest by Pakistani lawyers and journalists, in which prominent journalist Hamid Mir holds a sign apologizing for the 1971 “genocide” of Bangladeshis).[3]


At a December 25, 2007 protest in Islamabad, prominent journalist Hamid Mir holds a sign apologizing for the 1971 massacre of Bangladeshis (fhiredekha.com)

This paper will examine the growing persecution of Pakistan’s religious minorities: Christians, Hindus and Sikhs, as well as Ahmadi Muslims and Shi’ite Muslims.[4] In recent years, anyone who is not a Muslim in Pakistani society – or groups of Muslims who are not considered to be Muslim socially and religiously or under Pakistan’s law – have been facing a sustained campaign of hate and religious persecution by Islamic groups and individuals, including government officials, legislators, judges, lawyers, police officers and clerics, who interpret law on their own terms and enforce it with the objective of making Pakistan a purer-than-ever Islamic nation. The persecution is manifested in the imprisonment of Christians and Ahmadi Muslims on charges of blasphemy; abduction of Hindu and Christian girls and their forced conversion to Islam; demolition and desecration of houses of worship; denial of food relief to non-Muslim flood victims by both government officials and wealthy philanthropists; denigration of and attacks on Shi’ite Muslims – and the deliberate and systematic killing of members of all these communities. Although not included in discussion here, it should be borne in mind that another significant group of the Pakistani population, the inhabitants of insurgency-affected Baluchistan, is facing persecution from Pakistani state and concern has been expressed (including by Pakistan’s Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry) over a large number of Baluchis who have disappeared – widely believed to have been abducted and killed by Pakistani intelligence agencies.[5]

The depth of religious and cultural persecution of religious minorities in Pakistani society is reflected, for example, in the following revealing incident, which took place in the town of Pattoki. A group of Christians who drank tea at a Muslim-owned café were later required to pay both for the tea and for the glasses from which they drank, because these glasses, having been touched by Christians, were now deemed contaminated.[6]Such incidents reflect the long-standing religious and cultural hatred suffered by Pakistan’s Christians, Hindus and other minorities, manifested in threats, intimidation and violence, and often in the appropriation of their land and property by powerful local Muslims.

Discrimination against Christians and Hindus is anchored in the Pakistani constitution, which bars them from holding senior posts such as President. In addition, a law from 1974 declares the Ahmadis non-Muslim, and, along with some later laws, forbids them to use Muslim names and symbols, though they identify themselves as Muslims and follow the teachings of the Koran. This 1974 law does not apply to Shi’ite Muslims, but militant Islamist circles and many mainstream Sunnis consider them to be non-Muslims as well, and have called on the authorities to enact legislation excluding them from the fold of Islam.

The pressure on the religious minorities has led many to convert to Islam in order to survive. Such conversions are celebrated (prominent Pakistani journalist Maya Khan, the host of a show on Pakistan’s ARY News channel, this year took personal pride in converting a Hindu boy on her live television show during the holy month of Ramadan[7]), and even forced conversions are socially sanctioned rather than denounced. Pakistani officials incite against minorities with impunity. For example, former minister for religious affairs and TV host Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain sanctioned the killing of Ahmadi Muslims on television, yet remains employed by Pakistan’s influential GEO television channel.[8]

Obviously, not all Pakistanis are involved in the hate campaign and discrimination against the religious minorities, and many would probably oppose these phenomena. But the social climate is such that it is difficult for a large majority to speak out. There is a small group of liberal commentators who, at considerable risk to themselves, constantly articulate a vision of a society based on tolerance, secularism and pluralism. However, their views are mainly confined to three English-language newspapers that play a commendable role in exposing the persecution of religious minorities, namely Daily Times, Dawn and The Express Tribune. Hence, these commentators’ influence in shaping public opinion is inconsequential.

Citing statements of government officials, parliamentary leaders, community members and human rights activists, and other information culled mostly from the Pakistani media, this report analyzes the persisting patterns of persecution against religious minorities in Pakistan in the recent years. Cataloguing different types of attack, it examines how the cultural space for the existence of these minorities is rapidly shrinking in the Islamic nation of Pakistan – a country carved out of India in 1947 on the ground that Muslims and Hindus could not coexist. This concept, known as the Two Nation Theory, has been translated into a Pakistani policy framework known as Nazaria-e-Pakistan (the Ideology of Pakistan), which, over the years, has been responsible for gradually degrading the social status of non-Muslim Pakistani citizens in the country.

The instances of persecution described below are by no means exhaustive, for the dominant Urdu-language Pakistani media often ignores such incidents, especially those occurring in villages and small towns. The under-reporting is due to the social climate in Pakistan, which regards such incidents as understandable or even positive. Another reason is the country’s preoccupation with the war on terror.

Persecution Of Shi’ite Muslims

Of the 190 million people in Pakistan, Shi’ite Muslims constitute about 20%.[156] The Sunni Muslims believe that Abu Bakr, Omar ibn Khattab, Usman ibn Affan and Ali ibn Abi Talib are the four righteous caliphs who succeeded Prophet Muhammad in that order, with Ali being the last of the four. However, Shi’ite Muslims cite a hadith of Prophet Muhammad in which he reportedly said that Ali ibn Abi Talib, his cousin and son-in-law, would succeed him, and therefore Shi’ite Muslims consider Ali as the first [legitimate] caliph, leading to an entirely different set of successors.

Over the years, some doctrinal differences have become entrenched between the two sects of Islam, with the consequence that a vast number of Sunni Muslims, [particularly those of Salafist and Deobandi backgrounds] does not consider Shi’ites as Muslims. In August 2012, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life published a global survey of Muslim attitudes and opinion after interviewing 38,000 Muslims face to face in 39 Muslim-dominated countries. The findings (see the graphics below) revealed that only 50 percent of Sunni Muslims in Pakistan, and much more in many more Muslim nations, consider Shi’ites as Muslims. However, there are at least 30 percent Sunni Muslims in Pakistan who also treat Sunni Sufi (Barelvi) as non-Muslims. In other words, Salafist-Deobandi treat both Shia and Sunni Sufis as non-Muslims.[157]

Pew Global Survey: Only 50% Sunnis in Pakistan Consider Shi’ites Muslim


Pew survey: percentage of Sunnis in Muslim countries who regard Shi’ites as Muslim (pewforum.org)

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other powerful extremist Islamic groups in Pakistan call the Shi’ites infidels. The most venomous attacks on the Shi’ites of Pakistan come from Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), the military wing of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP or Soldiers of the Prophet’s Companions). Both the LeJ and the SSP (Takfiri Deobandi groups) are banned in Pakistan, but they work freely under the banner of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) headed by Maulana Ahmad Ludhianvi.

Murders of Shi’ites have been common in Pakistan for decades, and have recently increased throughout the country. In many cases, extremist militants stop buses at random, order the passengers off, identify the Shi’ites among them by checking their names in their identity cards, and then shoot them. Attacks have increased particularly in the regions of Gilgit Baltistan, Hangu, Parachinar, Dera Ismail Khan, and Baluchistan. In the latter province, it is especially Hazara Shi’ites and also non-Hazara Shias who are being targeted. [In Balochistan alone, at least 500 Shia Hazara and 200 non-Hazara Shias have been killed. Total number of Shias killed all over Pakistani is estimated to be at least 19,000.]

Frequent Headlines In Pakistani Dailies: “At Least 20 Shi’ites Pulled Off Bus, Shot Dead…”; “Kohistan Sectarian Attack: 18 Shot Dead After Being Pulled Out Of Four Buses”; “Mastung: Pilgrims Pulled Out Of Bus And Killed, 26 Souls Dead, Three People Going To Pick Up Bodies Also Killed”

Examples of such attacks on Shi’ite Muslims are numerous. In the morning of August 16, 2012 – two days after Pakistan’s Independence Day – at least 20 Shi’ite Muslims were pulled from buses, their identity cards were checked to ascertain that they were Shi’ites, and then they were shot dead. The incident happened at Babusar Top in Mansehra district in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, 100 miles north of Islamabad.[158] The bus was travelling between Rawalpindi and Gilgit, the capital of the northern Gilgit Baltistan province. A media report, titled “At Least 20 Shi’ites Pulled Off Bus, Shot Dead in Northern Pakistan,” quoted police official Shafiq Gul as saying that the armed men “stopped three vehicles, searched them and picked up people in three batches of five, six and nine and shot them dead. They were all Shi’ites.”[159]

This attack was not the first of its kind. Early this year – on February 28, 2012 – armed men ambushed four Gilgit-bound buses in the Harban Nala area of Kohistan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, ordered the passengers off the buses, checked their identity cards to verify that 18 of them were Shi’ite Muslims and shot them dead. According to a report titled “Kohistan Sectarian Attack: 18 Shot Dead After Being Pulled Out Of Four Buses,” Ahmad Marwat – who identified himself as a spokesman of the Sunni Deobandi-Salafist militant group Jundallah which is part of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) stable of militant organizations – claimed responsibility for the attack.[160]

On April 3, 2012, a mob of Sunni Deobandi-Salafist Muslims – who were led by Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and LeJ members – pulled out passengers from Gilgit-bound buses in the town of Chilas and shot dead at least nine of them after identifying them as Shi’ite Muslims.[161] On the same day, a rally was organized by Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat in the town of Gilgit which turned violent and led to 20 deaths.[162] On September 20, 2011, at least 26 Shi’ite Muslims were pulled from a bus in the Mastung district of Baluchistan province, and were shot dead after their religious identity was verified; afterwards, a Lashkar-e-Jhangvi spokesman accepted responsibility for the attack, according to a report titled “Mastung: Pilgrims Pulled Out Of Bus And Killed, 26 Souls Dead, Three People Going To Pick Up Bodies Also Killed” in the Urdu-language daily Roznama Jang.[163] Numerous such attacks against Shi’ite Muslims have taken place in recent decades in Pakistan and even in 2012 appear unstoppable.

In reporting on these attacks, the Pakistani media rarely states explicitly that the victims were Shi’ite. Instead it describes the attacks as “sectarian,” a more neutral and general term the use of which removes culpability of the Sunni Deobandi-Salafist militant groups. These attacks on Shi’ites are ongoing and systematic, and most of them are carried out by Sunni Deobandi-Salafist Muslim organizations ideologically affiliated with Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, aka LeJ/SSP, which are feeder organizations for Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pakistani Daily Report: “Ethnic Cleansing of Hazaras [Shi’ite Muslims] Going On In Systematic Manner”; Pakistani Daily Editorial: “The Targeting Of … [Shi’ite Muslims] Is Usually Accompanied By Some Form Of Official Collusion”

Many of the Shi’ites being targeted, especially in Baluchistan, belong to the Shia Hazara group. Protests against the anti-SHia Hazara violence have been held in Afghanistan, Australia, the United Kingdom and many other parts of the world. In a June 2012 report titled “Ethnic Cleansing of Shia Hazaras Going On in Systematic Manner,” a Pakistani paper observed: “Every month around 50-60 members of the Hazara community are either gunned down or killed in bomb blasts, mostly within the precincts of Quetta city [the capital of Baluchistan province]…. During the last five years, as many as 50,000 Hazaras have left Baluchistan; a majority of them have managed to take shelter in other countries, and nearly 300 lost their lives as their boats capsized. Meanwhile, some have fled to Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

A sample of attacks on Shi’ite Muslims during recent months is given here to illustrate the campaign of targeted attacks in Pakistani streets, as recorded by a Shi’ite interest website.[165] On August 16, three Shi’ite Muslims were killed in a targeted firing in Quetta. On August 9, a religious program at an imambargah (a Shi’ite religious place) was attacked in Lasbela district of Baluchistan. On July 29, a Shi’ite Muslim was kidnapped by LeJ militants from Hazarganji area of Quetta, and a day earlier another Shi’ite Muslim was killed in the city. On July 28, a man named Qadir Bakhsh was shot dead in Jaffarabad district. On July 26, another Shi’ite Muslim was killed in a targeted firing in Quetta. On July 24, a school official was shot dead because he was a Shi’ite. On July 12, a Shi’ite Muslim was shot dead in Quetta. Not all killings are reported. One report put the number of Shi’ite Hazaras killed during a 19-day period in May 2012 at 39.[166] These attacks show a pattern of targeted killing of Shi’ite Muslims in various parts of Baluchistan, where the Pakistani military has been able to crush the secular Baluchi insurgency for independence but is widely seen as unable or unwilling to tackle the killings of Shi’ite Hazaras.

However, the targeted killing of Shi’ite Muslims is not limited to Baluchistan. These attacks are occurring in every region of Pakistan. Some of recent attacks on Shi’ite Muslims are given here, as recorded by a Shi’ite interest website.[167] In the town of Chakwal in Punjab province, an imambargah was attacked by extremists on June 17. In the city of Karachi in Sindh province, a Shi’ite youth was shot dead in the Kharadar area on June 24. In Lahore in Punjab, a Shi’ite Muslim was shot dead at his doorstep on June 23. In Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, a Shi’ite girl died in an attack on an imambargah in Gulbahar police station district on July 24. In Kurram Agency, Taliban militants attacked the Shi’ite residential area of Bilash Khail on July 17. In Sargodha district of Punjab, two brothers were beheaded for converting to Shi’ite faith on July 11. In Abbottabad, a religious procession of Shi’ite Muslims was banned by Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP/LeJ) on June 15. In the town of Hangu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, two Shi’ite Muslims were tortured to death on June 9. In the town of Dera Ismail Khan, extremists fired on Shi’ite Muslims on June 28. In the town of Bhakkar in Punjab, shops owned by Shi’ite Muslims were attacked by Sunni Deobandi-Salafist mobs who were shouting anti-Shi’ite slogans on June 11. These attacks are motivated by a deep-seated ideological prejudice against Shi’ite Muslims, which means that there are no geographical factors and they are occurring in every part of Pakistan.

Following the August 16, 2012 killing of 20 Shi’ite Muslims in the Mansehra district, a liberal Pakistani newspaper summed the situation in an editorial titled “Another Sectarian Massacre,” observing:[168] ”The menace of sectarianism, with Shias [i.e. Shi’ites] usually being targeted, is often delinked from the militancy that is plaguing the country. Treating both as separate issues is unwise, as many of the attacks on Shias are carried out by the same groups that are at war with the country and, even if the perpetrators are different, they share the same hateful ideology. More so, the unending violence and the state’s inability to tackle it in a meaningful way only emboldens these terrorist outfits, who then feel free to attack with even further impunity…

“The targeting of Shias is usually accompanied by some form of official collusion. Curfews imposed in Gilgit tend to affect the Shia community the most and they are often even stopped from offering Friday prayers at mosques. In Baluchistan, the Hazara Shias are now so fearful of the systemic elimination of their community by groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba [LeT] that they are choosing to leave the province and even the country that they have called home for generations….”

The Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) Video Series: “The Shi’ite is aNasl[Race/Offspring] of Jews; the Sipah-e-Sahaba Calls the Shi’ite a Bigger Infidel Than the Jew”

The hatred against the Shi’ites is fanned by Deobandi-Salafist Muslim clerics who preach prejudice and violence against them. In March 2012, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) published a research paper, authored by this writer, explaining how the Deobandi-Salafist Muslim groups in Pakistan are using online social networking tools such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and their own dedicated websites to foster a culture of ideological hatred against Shi’ite Muslims. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) is the lead organization spearheading the violent campaign against Shi’ite Muslims in Pakistan.

Excerpts from the MEMRI research paper are given below to explain how the leading Deobandi-Salafist Muslim organizations, which are surviving with open support from the government of Punjab province, are enforcing hatred against Shi’ite Muslims:[169]

“On its Internet discussion forum ahlesunnatforum.com, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has posted a series of six videos, answering the question: Why was the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) established? A collage of images, texts and audio-video statements of Islamic clerics from various schools of Sunni Islam declares that the group draws its ideological roots from all key Sunni sects, stating: ‘The Deobandi, the Barelvi, [and] the Ahle Hadith are united on the question of the honor of the Sahaba [the Companions of Prophet Muhammad].’ The images given below from the first video illustrate the ideological declarations made by the SSP.

“The video declares that the Shi’ite Muslims are worse than the Jews, with the Urdu text as excerpted in the above image reading: ‘The Shi’ite is a nasl [race/offspring] of the Jews. The Sipah-e-Sahaba calls the Shi’ite a bigger infidel than the Jew.’

“In the image above from the video, a cleric holds a Koran on his head and declares: ‘The Koran is on my head [i.e. I swear] that the Shi’ite is a kafir [infidel].’ Another Urdu text on the video declares: ‘Muslims, keep the Shi’ite far from your offices and factories. To give jobs to these infidels is enmity against Islam.’

“The above footage shows anti-Taliban Pakistani cleric Tahirul Qadri of the Barelvi school of Sunni Islam, with the Urdu text stating: ‘One who does not consider a Shi’ite is himself an infidel.’ Another text under the image of Tahirul Qadri, who dismisses the literature of Shi’ite Muslims in the accompanying video statement as false and without authentic sources, states: ‘The Shi’ite and the Sunni can never be brothers. The Shi’ite is the biggest infidel of all.’

“In an image on the video, an Urdu text accuses Shi’ite Muslims of killing Saddam Hussein of Iraq, stating: ‘Saddam being hanged under the watch of the Shi’ite.’ The video produces a series of statements of Shi’ite clerics, accusing them of allegedly uttering abuse against the companions of Prophet Muhammad.

“The video also reproduces a clip of Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, the SSP founder, addressing a crowd while the Urdu text (see above) clarifies his speech: ‘There is a fatwa [Islamic decree] by Maulana Ahmed Raza Barelvi [the founder of the Barelvi school of Sunni Islam] stating that the Shi’ite is a kafir [infidel] and anyone who doubts this is also akafir.’

“The second part of the video series contains a clip of Maulana Ziaur Rehman Farooqi, a late Islamic cleric associated with the SSP, in which he delivers a fiery speech against Shi’ite Muslims in order to defend the honor of the Companions. In the same video, Maulana Asif Ashraf Jalali, a Barelvi cleric, equates the Shi’ites with Jews. It also cites Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani, an 11th-12th century Persian Islamic scholar followed widely by Sunni Muslims, quoting the Prophet Muhammad as saying: ‘In the last days, there would be a nation (Shi’ites) which will curse my companions and will find faults. You should not strike up friendship with them. Do not eat alongside them. Do not marry them. If someone is sick among them, do not ask about them. If someone dies from among them, do not offer the funeral prayer…. May Allah’s curses be on them.’

“A third video of the series teaches the LeJ followers that the Shi’ites can be identified by the following surnames (see the Urdu text in image above): ‘Jafri, Alvi, Zaidi, Hussein, Naqvi, Raza, Abidi, Abbas, Shah, Hassan.’ The video also clarifies at one point that 2,700 members of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan had been killed up to 2010, that is, in allegedly revenge killings by Shi’ite militants.

“In the fourth, fifth and sixth videos of the series, which are published on YouTube, a number of Islamic clerics associated with the SSP are shown delivering speeches on various points of beliefs associated with Shi’ite Muslims. In the fifth video, an Urdu text again dismisses the Shi’ites as Jews, stating: ‘They are the nasl [race/offspring] of Jews and merely use the name of Hazrat Ali [the Islamic caliph].

“The sixth and last video of the series shows clips of speeches by various militant clerics associated with the SSP. Addressing a crowd, Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqi, a youth leader of SSP, defends Saudi Arabia for its pro-Salafist leadership and castigates the Shi’ite Iran, stating: ‘Iran is behind all the conspiracies hatched against all Islamic countries and the Companions [of the Prophet Muhammad].’

“One of the final images in the video reads (see the above Urdu text): ‘Muslims of the entire world, if you want to escape the evil of this Shi’ite infidel, then support the Sipah-e-Sahaba. Deoband[i], Barelvi, Ahle Hadith, or anyone can be a leader of Sipah-e-Sahaba.”

Persecution Of Christians

In 2012, Pakistan’s population was estimated at 190 million, of which Christians and Hindus together constitute roughly five percent.[9] Of this five percent, the number of Hindus may be a little more than that of Christians in Pakistan, though some Christian writers have sought to put the percentage of Christians at nearly 15 percent of the total population.[10]

As examined below, Pakistani Christians have endured an unending process of religious and social discrimination over the years, with their girls being forced to convert to Islam and married off to Muslim youth without their consent, their lands and properties being occupied by powerful local Muslims, and Christian youth being implicated in alleged cases of blasphemy and shot dead. In recent years, the biggest attack on Pakistani Christians came in July 2009, when seven members of the community were burned alive and dozens of their houses were set afire by an angry mob in the Pakistani town of Gojra over alleged desecration of the Koran.[11]

Pakistani Daily Report: Christian Nurses Poisoned “Because Of Their Faith”; Christian Leader Michael Javed: “[Pakistani] Society Has Become Extremely Intolerant And… [Is] Not Allowing The Minorities To Live In Peace”

In July 2012, nine Christian trainee nurses at the Civil Hospital in Karachi fell ill after drinking tea allegedly poisoned by their Muslim colleagues at their hostel. They were claimed to have been deliberately poisoned because of their faith,” a Pakistani newspaper reported.[12]

Christian leader Michael Javed expressed concern that “the [Pakistani] society has become extremely intolerant and… [is] not allowing the minorities to live in peace.”[13]Michael Javed, who is a former legislator, said: “The government has turned a blind eye to the persecution of minorities; our girls are being [forcibly] converted and our churches are being attacked…. A large number of nurses are Christians and are (already) subjected to ill-treatment and prejudice.”[14]

William Sadiq, the coordinator of a welfare organization working for minority women, commented on the poisoning of the girls, “It could even be religious targeting.”[15] ”The Christian leaders also shouted slogans outside the Karachi Press Club against the hospital’s administration and the rising religious intolerance [in Pakistani society],” said a media report, quoting one of the affected nurses as saying that a colleague had made the tea after 10 pm and immediately after drinking the tea they fell ill.[16]

The targeting of Christians takes various forms. In July 2012, Pastor Victor Samuel Maseeh of Toba Tek Singh town in Punjab province was kidnapped by men who were wearing police uniform and arrived in a police car, leading to fear and panic among Christians.[17] Maseeh was a pastor at the church of a Christian school and belonged to the Christian Colony, which has a population of 300 Christians. The kidnappers showed a false search warrant allegedly issued by a Lahore judicial magistrate. Similar attacks on Christians are reported by the Pakistani media regularly.

11-Year-Old Christian Girl Arrested Over Blasphemy Charges; Christian Youth Tortured To Death In Prison; Catholic Church Attacked In Sambrial District Of Punjab

A common tactic used by Muslim clerics and the Pakistani land mafia is to accuse members of minority communities of blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad and the Koran, with the objective of seizing their land and property, especially churches. Victims have been known to be tortured and even killed in Pakistani prisons.

In September 2009, 25-year-old Fanish Masih was arrested for desecrating the Koran and later died in prison. District Jail Superintendent Farooq Lodhi said he had hanged himself, but numerous other sources, including senior Pakistani officials, admitted he had been tortured to death. Punjab Minister for Minority Affairs Kamran Michael said: “I have seen the body and there were torture marks on it.” Asma Jahangir, then chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), held the police authorities responsible. Pakistani Christian leaders Archbishop Lawrence John Saldanha and Peter Jacob expressed concern that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which allow the death sentence in these cases, were being abused. Following Masih’s arrest, some 100 Muslim youths attacked a Catholic church in the Sambrial district of the Punjab province.[18]

Blasphemy cases are regularly brought against Pakistani Christians. In May 2004, Samuel Masih, who was serving a jail sentence under blasphemy charges, was attacked by a police constable inside the prison and later died.[19] In September 2005, a case was filed against Younus aka Jonah in a court outside Lahore for committing blasphemy against a religious congregation of Muslims.[20] In April 2007, a blasphemy case was filed against five Christian brothers in a court in the town of Toba Tek Singh.[21] In Karachi, Qamar David was accused of committing blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad in March 2008 allegedly by sending blasphemous SMS messages to a Muslim.[22] In March 2011, he died in a Pakistani prison.[23] In July 2010, Rashid Emanuel, a 32-year-old pastor, and his brother were arrested on charges of committing blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad and were shot dead inside the court premises in Faisalabad.[24] In July 2011, Christian youth Noel Gulzar was accused of blaspheming the Koran.[25] In one case, Christian youth Manzoor Masih was granted bail in a blasphemy case but was shot dead soon thereafter.[26]

In August 2012, Rimsha Masih, an 11-year-old Christian girl with Down’s Syndrome,[27]was arrested for allegedly burning the pages of a booklet used to teach the Koran. The incident happened outside Islamabad, after protesters beat up the girl and her mother.[28] The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), a non-governmental organization, condemned the minor’s arrest, adding: “The spread of extremism and the authorities’ preference for appeasing charged mobs, rather than taking the correct and lawful course, should make those in power as well as other political forces take serious note. It is deplorable that the country’s political leadership refrains from speaking out against extremism and the injustices towards non-Muslims.”[29] In 1990-2010, at least 16 court cases of blasphemy against Pakistani Christians were reported by the media.[30]

In another incident in early 2012, blasphemy charges were brought against a Pakistani Christian who gave his name as “Jew Jurian” on an application for a national identity card, with the motive being that anything associated with the word “Jew” is blasphemous.[31]

Media Report: Eight To 10 Christians Being Forced To Convert To Islam Every Month In Sindh And Punjab; Christian Woman Kidnapped Along With Her Four Children, Converted To Islam Within Hours

According to a media report, eight to 10 Christians are being forced to convert to Islam every month in the Sindh and Punjab provinces.[32] For example, in early 2012, Seema Bibi, a Punjabi Christian woman, was kidnapped along with her four children after her husband couldn’t repay a loan to a landlord. According to a Pakistani daily, within hours the husband was told that his wife had converted to Islam and wouldn’t be coming home.[33] Later, Seema Bibi escaped from her captors.

Commenting on Seema Bibi’s case and similar incidents of forced conversions, human rights lawyer Amar Lal spoke of the growing discrimination faced by minorities in Pakistan: “It is a conspiracy [aimed at forcing] Hindus and Christians and other minorities to leave Pakistan… As a minority, we feel more and more insecure. It is getting worse day by day.”[34] Father Emmanuel Yousaf, head of the Christian interest group National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), said his organization was helping Seema Bibi and a number of other Christians who were forced to leave their homes, adding: “Christian and Hindu girls are targeted more and more… Some of the [Christians protected by the NCJP]… are girls who were forcibly converted, and others… were falsely accused of acting against Islam or abusing the holy Koran.”[35]

Forced conversion of Christians is continuing. Some recent incidents of forced conversions of Christian girls include: 28-year-old Tina Barkat was abducted, converted and forcibly married off to a Muslim youth; 17-year-old Samina Ayub was kidnapped, forced to convert and renamed Fatima Bibi in a town near Lahore; 15-year-old Uzma Bibi and 20-year-old Saira Bibi were kidnapped from Lahore and converted to Islam; 14-year-old Sidra Bibi was kidnapped from her home in Sheikhupura district and converted to Islam; 19-year-old Shazia Bibi was forced to convert and marry a Muslim youth in Gujranwala town.[36]


Aasia Bibi, a Christian mother of four, was sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad (tribune.com.pk)

Liberal Pakistani Governor Shot Dead By Security Guard For Defending Christian Woman Accused Of Blasphemy, Christian Minister Shahbaz Bhatti Shot Dead For Advocating Reforms In Blasphemy laws

On January 4, 2011, Punjab Province Governor Salman Taseer, known for his liberal views, was shot dead by his own bodyguard for advocating reform in Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and for supporting Aasia Bibi, a Christian mother of four who was sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy in 2010, and whose husband and children were forced to flee their home in Sheikhupura district.[37] The assassin, Malik Mumtaz Qadri, belonged to Dawat-e-Islami, an organization of Barelvi clerics who espouse an extremely strict interpretation of Islam and advocate killing anyone who blasphemes against the Prophet.[38]

In a statement, 500 Pakistani clerics and religious scholars justified the governors’ assassination,[39] and Pakistani lawyers praised Qadri and garlanded him when he was brought in a police van before a court in Islamabad.[40] The assassin’s defense team was led by former chief justice of Lahore High Court, retired judge Khwaja Muhammad Sharif.[41] The latter’s decision to defend the assassin was seen as an ideological move that frightened every Christian and minority member in Pakistan.

After Salman Taseer’s assassination, a court in the town of Multan filed blasphemy charges against Pakistani lawmaker Sherry Rehman for advocating reforms in the blasphemy laws on a television program.[42] Rehman later withdrew her bill calling for reform in these laws. In order to protect her life, the authorities appointed her Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. Clearly, Pakistan’s clerics and other influential figures are creating and nurturing a culture of intolerance that not only leads to violence against minorities but discourages liberal Pakistanis like Salman Taseer and Sherry Rehman from protecting minority rights.

On March 2, 2011, about two months after Salman Taseer’s assassination, Pakistan’s Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian in the federal cabinet, was likewise shot dead for advocating reforms in Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. According to a Pakistani daily, the “Punjabi Taliban,” a collective name given to Punjab-based Sunni Deonandi-Salafist jihadi organizations like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), claimed responsibility for the assassination.[43] It was reported that the assailants left leaflets at the crime scene warning that all others opposing the blasphemy laws would meet a similar fate.

Some suspected that Bhatti was actually assassinated by the Pakistani intelligence, and unidentified Pakistani officials sought to blame India’s intelligence agency Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) and the American Blackwater company, now known as XE Services.[44] However, it is widely believed that Bhatti was shot dead for advocating reforms in the blasphemy laws of Pakistan. In an editorial, the Dawn newspaper observed: “Bhatti’s killers may have escaped the scene of the crime, but the real culprit is known to all: an extremist mindset that has, with the sponsorship of some institutions of the state [a reference to the Pakistani intelligence], spread far and wide in Pakistani society. The tragic irony of a country created to protect the rights of a minority – Muslims in unified India – turning into a killing field for those standing up for the rights of minorities evokes a deep sense of pathos and helplessness.”[45]


Cartoonist: Sabir Nazar, viewpointonline.net

College Chapel Occupied By Land Mafia In Rawalpindi; Pakistani Lawmaker Malik Abrar Ahmed Accused Of Occupying Church Land; Churches Attacked In Various Pakistani Towns

All minorities are seen as vulnerable, and their properties and places of worship are being seized illegally. The city of Rawalpindi has seen several cases of Christian churches and land seized by Muslims. On October 23, 2010, a large number of Christians in Rawalpindi protested the seizing of Gordon College chapel by a land-grabbing mafia that sensed an opportunity in the Christians’ vulnerability. At the protest rally, Mubashar Robinson Asghar, chairman of the All Pakistan Christian Action Committee (APCAC), asked the government to expel the illegal occupants immediately. Pakistan’s Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who has been very active in taking up cases that threaten the elected democratic government in the country, was less enthusiastic in addressing the Rawalpindi case. According to a Pakistani media report, APCAC members filed a number of appeals to the Supreme Court in this matter, but no action was taken.[46]

In July 2012, Pakistani lawmaker Malik Abrar Ahmed and revenue officials were allegedly involved in taking over land meant for a church and a Christian hospital. This sparked a demonstration by over 200 Christians in the town, and Akram Waqar Gill of the Joint Christian Action Committee (JCAC) even threatened to commit self-immolation.[47] In 2010, Malik Iftikhar, a legislator of the Punjab provincial assembly, was accused of taking over a church in the city.[48] Generally, the culprits deny their role in such cases.

In August 2012, the Christian community in Peshawar appealed to the provincial government for help “in preventing the illegal takeover of the historic Mission Hospital.” The community members led a protest against the construction of a shopping complex on the premises of the hospital. Josemeen Qudus, a member of the Church of Pakistan, who led the protest, noted that, according to the law, the hospital grounds cannot be used for commercial purposes.[49]

There have also been numerous cases of attacks on churches. For example, in January 2004 Islamic extremists exploded a bomb at the Bible Society Trinity Church in Karachi.[50] In early 2006, a church in the town of Sargodha was torched in response to the publication of the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.[51] In Daska area of Sialkot district, a church was attacked as a result of Muslim-Christian land dispute in early 2006.[52] In May 2007, Christians in Charsadda district received letters warning them they must shut down their churches and convert to Islam, or else leave the district within 10 days.[53] In September 2009, an angry mob torched a church in Sialkot after a Christian boy was accused of desecrating the Koran.[54] In September 2010, Islamic extremists set fire to a church in Shah Latif Town area of Karachi.[55] In March 2011, a mob attempted to demolish the Full Gospel Assembly (FGA) church near Lahore after Christians were accused of desecrating the Koran,[56] and a similar case occurred in April 2011 in the town of Gujranwala.[57] Attacks on churches have continued this year, notably the September 21 torching of a Lutheran church in the town of Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.[58]

Persecution Of Hindus And Sikhs


Cover of Indian Outlook magazine, January 23, 2006.

A few centuries ago, what is now Pakistan was inhabited by Hindus. However, after Pakistan’s establishment in 1947, most of the Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India. According to estimates, Hindus now constitute about 2%-2.5% of Pakistan’s population and, due to the persecution, many are immigrating to India.[59] Members of the tiny Sikh minority have also faced attacks from Muslims and Islamist extremists. In May 2009, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was born in present-day Pakistan and whose family migrated to India after the Partition in 1947, expressed concern over the growing number of atrocities against Pakistani Sikhs, stating: “Recently, you have heard the atrocities being unleashed on the handful of Sikhs left in Pakistan. The Indian government has requested Pakistan to initiate strong measures to stop such atrocities.”[60] Like in the case of Christians, persecution of Hindus and Sikhs takes various forms, with the driving reason being that they are not Muslims.

160-Year-Old Hindu Temple Vandalized In Peshawar; 150-Year-Old Sikh Temple Demolished Overnight In Mardan District

In May 2012, the 160-year-old Guru Gorakhnath temple in Peshawar was desecrated in a targeted attack. Ramesh Lal, a priest at the temple, said: “Vandals smashed a statuette of Lord Shiva to pieces and burned the holy Gita [the sacred Hindu book] as well as several images of our deities.” The attack came after the Peshawar High Court ordered to reopen the historical temple, which had been abandoned since Pakistan’s establishment. Haroon Sarblal, a Hindu community leader, said that these acts of vandalism and desecration were a deliberate attempt to spark religious tension in Peshawar.[61] In March 2012, a historical Sikh temple – 150-year-old gurdwara of Baba Karam Singh – was destroyed by the land mafia in the town of Mardan in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.The Sikh community expressed concern over the targeting of their holy sites.[62]

In September 2009, Islamist extremists set fire to Sikh holy books in a joint Hindu-Sikh temple in the Kashmore district of Sindh province.[63] In July 2011, the Pakistani authorities barred the Sikhs of Lahore from worshipping at a local gurdwara after Muslims claimed it was built on the site of a Muslim saint’s tomb.[64] The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan condemned the decision, stating: “The Sikhs… were told by members of… [an] extremist group that the gurdwara was now a mosque and they would no longer be allowed to bring in their musical instruments to observe their religious ceremony.”[65]

Hindus Evicted From Their Homes For Drinking Water From Mosque In Karachi

In July 2010, 60 Hindu men, women and children were forced to abandon their homes in Karachi’s Memon Goth area and had to take refuge in a cattle pen after a boy from their community drank water from a cooler outside a mosque. According to a Pakistani newspaper, the local Muslims were so enraged by this that they beat up the boy and other members of the Hindu community, and drove them from their homes. [66]

Meerumal, whose son drank the water from the mosque, described the incident: “All hell broke loose when my son, Dinesh, who looked after chickens in a farm, drank water from a cooler outside a mosque. Upon seeing him do that, the people of the area started beating him up…. Later, around 150 tribesmen attacked us, injuring seven of our people – Samo, Mohan, … Chanu, Sadu, Heera, and Guddi.”[67] One of the injured, Heera, said that another 400 families from the area, located in the vicinity of Malir town, were also being pressured to leave their homes. “Our people are even scared of going out of their houses. We are also putting up with living in the filthy pen because we cannot go home for fear of being killed,” Heera said.[68]

Islamic Militants Demand Jizya (Islamic Poll Tax) From Hindus And Sikhs

Islamist militants in the Pakistani tribal regionhave forced Hindus and Sikhs to pay jizya, the Islamic poll tax imposed on non-Muslims, and have punished those who refused. In 2009, a Taliban representative phoned Dr. Parkas, the leader of the Hindu community in the Batagram district of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (now called Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), and ordered him to collect six million rupees from his community and deliver them to the Taliban.[69] Senior police official Sohail Khalid told a local journalist that threats of this kind have also been received by various non-governmental organizations.

According to a report in the Urdu-language daily Roznama Express, in June 2009 Hindus and Sikhs in the Khyber Agency agreed to pay jizya to Islamist militants led by Mangal Bagh, in return for protection.[70] Also in 2009, Taliban militants in the Orakzai Agency banished 50 Sikh families from the area for failing to pay jizya. The militants took over their houses and shops and auctioned their valuables.[71] It should be noted here that Taliban and other Islamist militants are merely reinforcing the discrimination that is already prevalent against the minorities in Pakistan. In January 2010, militants abducted two Sikhs in Khyber and Orakzai tribal districts, and beheaded them after their families failed to pay a large ransom.[72]

Pakistani Religious Scholar Says Objectives Of The 19th Century Jihad Against Sikhs Yet To Be Accomplished, Serving Chief Justice Accuses Hindus Of Funding Terrorism And Later Denies

In February 2011, prominent Islamic scholar Maulana Samiul Haq, emir of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-S) party, called for jihad against the Sikh community in Pakistan, arguing that the objectives of the jihad launched by Islamic cleric Syed Ahmed Shaheed against the British rule and the Sikhs in the 19th century have yet to be achieved.[73]

In March 2010, Lahore High Court chief justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif, known for his Islamist views, accused Pakistan’s Hindus of “involvement in funding terrorism” in the country.[74] Hindus in Pakistans lower house of parliament responded by staging a walkout, and were joined by members of the Awami National Party, a secular Pashtun nationalist party. Following this, the Lahore High Court issued a statement saying that Sharif’s remarks had been maliciously misreported in the media.[75] Notwithstanding the denial, Justice Sharif’s remark is symptomatic of the prejudice against Hindus and other minorities in the Pakistani judiciary.

Hindu Children Denied Food Relief During 2010 Floods By Pakistani Philanthropists And Government Officials; Pakistani NGO: Hindus “Not Allowed” To Drink Water From Fountains At Relief Camps

Members of the Hindu community were among the victims of the 2010 floods in Pakistan. After the floods, some Pakistani officials denied aid to the Hindus, including to children. A Pakistani daily reported that government officials at the Mir Imdad flood relief camp outside Jhirk in the Sindh province refused to provide aid to the children because they were low-caste Hindus. Gulab, a Hindu boy, told a journalist: “Despite the fact that all of our belongings were washed away by the flood, we are not receiving food or any other stuff.”[76]

According to media reports, the Hindu flood victims also faced discrimination by local citizens who came to hand out food during the month of Ramadan. [77] A media report noted: “Local philanthropists come to distribute food and other items among people at the camps, except the Dalits [Hindus]…. Especially at the time of Iftari [breaking of the day’s fast during Ramadan], crowds of local people could be seen giving food, fruit and sweets to the children, but Gulab’s kids can only become spectators, not beneficiaries. If the children of the Dalits stand in a queue to get some food, other children identify them and elbow them out.”[78]

Govindo, another Hindu at a makeshift shelter, said that the children of the urban Pakistani elite visited the flood relief camps and distributed toys and sweets among the flood-hit children, adding: “But this solidarity is expressed with those who are not [Hindu] Dalits.”[79] Gopaldas Bagri, a Dalit from the Kashmore district, said that he approached different organizations engaged in rescue and relief work to ask them to give attention to the Dalit community, adding: “I cannot understand that why, even at this moment, we are being refused and deprived of food.”[80]

Some 1,000 Hindu families sheltering at the Sabzi Mandi relief camp in Hyderabad encountered similar discrimination, and some were reportedly expelled from the camp. In a protest march against this discrimination, they condemned the authorities for depriving Hindus of aid and relief facilities, and said that local officials did nothing when Hindus at the camp were threatened by extremist religious groups. [81] According to a media report, the Hindu leaders blamed this discrimination in food distribution on the fact that the government was not willing to accept them as “citizens” of Pakistan.[82]

The non-governmental organization Upgrade Minorities for Integrated Development (UMID or Hope) reported on persecution of low-caste Hindu flood victims in the Badin district. According to its report, Hindu communities such as Kohlis, Bhaggrris, Menghwars, Bheels and Oads were barred from entering relief camps in the district, and even from drinking water from fountains set up outside the camps.”[83] In September 2011, an organization sent two truckloads of relief goods intended for 200 Hindu families in the town of Badin in the district. The trucks were looted near the camp. When workers from the local organization informed the police, they were asked to leave.”[84]

Hindu Girls Abducted, Drugged And Converted To Islam; Policemen And Islamic Clerics Involved In Abducting And Converting Hindu Girls

An increasing number of Hindu girls in Pakistan are abducted and forced to convert to Islam. Many of them later speak of having converted of their own free will as they are subjected to threats. This pattern of forced conversion and subsequent intimidation is illustrated in the examples below.

In May 2010, cleric Abdul Jabbar, the head of an Islamic seminary in the town of Khanpur, was accused of abducting Radha, a 13-year-old Hindu girl, and converting her to Islam. According to a media report, Jabbar prevented the girl’s parents from seeing her, claiming that she had converted to Islam and no longer wanted to see her non-Muslim relatives.”[85] Human rights activist Ramesh J. Pal said: “I personally met Abdul Jabbar, but he never met any of our requests. This is a clear case of forced conversion.”[86]Radha’s brother said: “We only curse ourselves for being so poor and sometimes even for being non-Muslims in a country where religion matters. We are not expecting justice from anyone…”[87]

In September 2009, a Karachi-based engineer kidnapped a Hindu girl named Bano, forcibly converted her to Islam, and arranged her marriage to a Muslim man, Jaffer Abbas. Gulzar, the engineer, was later indicted in a court after the girl’s father lodged a police complaint.[88]

All sections of Pakistani society are involved in such acts. In December 2011, a police constable in Karachi was accused of kidnapping Bharati, a 15-year-old Hindu girl, who was later converted and married off to a Muslim youth. Bharati, now Ayesha, told a court in Karachi that she had converted to Islam and married the Muslim man of her free will.[89]

In February 2012, 17-year-old Rinkle Kumari was kidnapped and converted in the town of Mirpur Mathello in Sindh province. A press report stated: “This is not the first case of this nature, as the community has been silently witnessing forcible conversion of their young girls for many months. Though the Pakistan Hindu Council [PHC] does not have the latest figures, they believe that incidents of conversion are higher than reported in the media.”[90] Despite being in judicial custody, Rinkle, whose case was widely reported in the media, was not allowed to meet with her parents. Commenting on the case, Mangla Sharma of the PHC said: “It is the same drill every time… A girl is kidnapped and converted at a madrassa [Islamic seminary] and when the family creates an uproar, the kidnappers produce a certificate that shows she has accepted Islam and ‘wants’ to be a Muslim.”[91] In April 2012, the case of Kumari and two other Hindu women was reviewed by Pakistan’s Supreme Court. The judge allowed them to decide their own future on the ground that they were adults.[92] In August 2012, Rinkle’s family, deeply hurt and in despair, migrated to India.

In October 2011, 15-year-old Poonam Wasu was drugged by some Muslim friends, and woke up a few hours later to find herself a married Muslim woman named Razia. Poonam Wasu said that her two Muslim friends, Saiba and Shazia, gave her tea. “After drinking it, I fell unconscious. I don’t remember what happened after that. All I know is that, when I woke up, I was a woman who had accepted Islam and performed a Nikkah [marriage] with my friend’s brother… I never thought these two girls would do something like this. Both of them were so nice to me.”[93] In August 2012, a teenage Hindu girl, identified by initials MK, was kidnapped, converted to Islam, and married to a man named Ghulam Murtaza Channo.[94] Her father, Riwatt Mal, aka Beebo, and uncle Sanjay Singh reported: “M phoned us today and said that she had married, but we heard the voices of two men and a woman, and doubt that she was being allowed to speak freely…. We’ll migrate to India, if M is not recovered. We can’t live with this situation now.”[95] The teenager appeared in a court five days after her kidnapping along with her Muslim husband.

Early in 2012, Dr. Lata Kumari, a Hindu doctor at the Aga Khan University Hospital, became the fifth woman of her family to be kidnapped and converted to Islam. When her sister Jyoti met her in court, Dr. Lata Kumari whispered that she “needed help” – “the only thing she managed to whisper,” according to a Pakistani daily, “before being roughly pushed aside by some clerics who had come to witness the court proceedings.”[96]
Human Rights Commission Of Pakistan (HRCP): Every Month, Between 20 and 25 Hindu Girls Are Abducted And Forcibly Converted To Islam; “Apart From Minors, Married Women With Children Are Not Spared Either…”

Speaking at a March 10, 2012 press conference organized by the family members of Hindu converts to Islam, Amarnath Motumel of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) estimated that 20 forced conversions took place every month, saying: “Apart from minors, married women with children are not spared either… Whenever a Hindu girl is converted and her family files a case in court, hundreds of religious zealots take to the streets and use pressure tactics, creating an atmosphere of fear… Many lawyers do not take up the girls’ cases at all, and prefer to fight for the other party.”[97]

At another press conference, two years earlier in 2010, Amarnath Motumel gave a similar estimate, noting that as many as 20 to 25 Hindu girls are abducted every month and converted forcibly to Islam.[98] He also voiced concern that the word “Hindu” has acquired the meaning of an insult and kind of abuse for the Hindu community in Pakistan.[99] He added: “According to estimates, in Karachi alone, a large number of Hindu girls are being kidnapped on a routine basis… The families of the victims are scared to register cases against the influential perpetrators as death threats are issued to them in case they raise their voice. So, the victims choose to remain silent to save their lives.”[100]

At a March 2012 conference of Hindu leaders from the Sindh and Baluchistan provinces, Kalpana Devi, vice president of the Larkana Bar Association, said: “Why is that only Hindu girls fall in love with Muslim men and convert to Islam with full conviction? Why don’t we ever hear of a Muslim boy or girl doing the same for the sake of love and perhaps rectitude?… If you have the mettle to take our girls and make them your daughters-in-law, then you should have the nerve to give us the same opportunity… But no, if this happens, the little [Muslim] girl or boy becomes Wajib-ul-Qatl[condemned to be killed under Islamic law], so it is always one-way traffic.”[101] The conference participants warned of mass migration from the country if immediate steps were not taken to stop forced conversions.[102] Speaking at the conference, Hindu community leader Hotchand Karmani said that forced conversions were not the only issue, and extortion and kidnappings for ransom, along with cases of forced conversions, constitute the top three crimes committed against Hindus.

There is fear that the kidnapped Hindu girls are also being sold into prostitution. According to a media report, Bherulal Balani, a former legislator, said: “Once the girls are converted, they are then sold to other people or are forced to do illegal and immoral activities.”[103]

Pakistani Daily Report: Hindus Converting In Order To “Survive In The [Islamic] Society” Of Pakistan

With the space for coexistence with Muslims shrinking, Hindus are converting to Islam in order to survive in Pakistani society. In May 2010, more than 50 members of the Hindu community converted to Islam in the city of Sialkot. According to a Pakistani daily report, they embraced Islam in order to “survive in the [Islamic] society” of Pakistan.[104]

Mangut Ram, a relative of some of the converts, said that they had converted under pressure from their employers.”[105] Ram, who used to work in a shop in Karachi, said he faced similar pressure: “The owner of the shop where I worked said that, after a few months of his employing me, the sales dropped drastically, because people were avoiding purchasing and eating edibles prepared by Hindus… Many people opposed the large presence of Hindu employees at his shop, and my boss felt pressured to change the situation…”[106] Ram said further that some of his relatives had converted to save their land, and because their Muslim neighbors had been mistreating them.[107]

In 2008, more than 270 individuals from 40 Hindu families embraced Islam under the influence of Islamic clerics in Mirpur Khas in the Sindh province. There were no reports of forced conversion, but, according to the media, the Hindus were pressured by their landlords and employers and were promised free dwellings.[108]

Speaking at a meeting of the Senate Committee on Minority Affairs in 2010, Senator Dr. Khatu Mal Jeewan said that the courts in Sindh province were not helping the families of forced conversion victims. He demanded that the Pakistani government protect the minorities and legislate against forced conversion of religious minorities to Islam.[109]


In Karachi, Pakistani Hindus protest against kidnapping of their girls (hinduexistence.wordpress.com)

Pakistani Media Reports: Persecution Forces Pakistani Hindus To Emigrate To India; Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC): “Every Week, At Least 20-25 Families Are Leaving Pakistan… For India”

As a result of growing persecution, many Pakistani Hindus have emigrated to India in recent years. In March 2005, a media report noted that 8,000 Pakistani Hindus had acquired Indian citizenship. “[T]hese Hindus came to India on valid travel papers from Pakistan and refused to [go] back, saying they were subjected to ill treatment on religious grounds.”[110] Persecution seems to be particularly serious in Sindh province, especially in the Ghotki, Jacobabad, Shikarpur and Larkana districts. In December 2010, 27 Hindu families from Pakistan’s Baluchistan province applied for asylum in India due to fear of kidnappings and killings. According to a report in the Urdu-language Pakistani newspaper Roznama Jasarat, these families said that they had been living in Baluchistan for centuries, but that persecution was forcing them to flee.[111] Similar reports on the migration of Hindus have appeared regularly in Indian newspapers in recent years.

In September 2011, over 300 Hindus in the Jacobabad district took a collective decision to migrate to India due to the continuing attacks against the Hindus in Pakistan. “With tears in their eyes… [they told local Pakistani journalists] that they had taken the decision with a heavy heart due to insecurity and a permanent threat of being kidnapped [for ransom or for the purposed of forced conversion to Islam].”[112] In a report titled “Persecution forces 60 Hindu families to migrate to India,” a Pakistani daily reported in August 2012 that 60 Hindu families from Baluchistan and Sindh provinces left for India due to persecution.[113] Some of these families were from Jacobabad. Commenting on this issue, human rights activist Farzana Bari noted that it was very serious and that the religious minorities in Pakistan do not get enough security. “It is not easy to leave your settled life and move somewhere else. They are really afraid and this is a continuous phenomenon,” she said.[114]

In November 2011, Journalist Sandhya Jain of The Pioneer reported that 114 Hindus of the Bagri clan were sheltering in Delhi and refusing to return to their homes in Sindh owing to the growing persecution in recent years. The report noted: “Amidst heightened sectarian strife in Pakistan… a small [group] of landless Hindu laborers has reached Delhi in quest of asylum and eventual citizenship. Growing incidents of abduction and forced conversion, especially of minor girls who disappear behind the veil, have instilled deep insecurity in [this] minority community over the years… Marauding tablighi [preaching] groups are fuelling an incandescent intolerance of non-Muslims in society, and hatred for kafirs [infidels] has acquired a chilling vibrancy. Tensions are particularly high in Sindh, Baluchistan and the North-West Frontier Province [now called the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province], where Hindus are increasingly being forced to embrace Islam in order to survive…. T]he intensified activism of the Tablighi Jamaat is making life increasingly hellish for Hindus. There is no sunwai(justice) when Hindu girls are kidnapped, converted, forced into marriage and never seen again. Fear is a constant companion. The [Tablighi Jamaat’s] jihad … is menacing and all-pervasive.”[115]

In the second week of August 2012, more than 250 Hindus from Baluchistan and Sindh crossed over into India to seek shelter. Speaking to the Indian media, Mukesh Kumar Ahuja, who hails from Baluchistan, commented: “Hindus are in real trouble in Pakistan, and especially in the areas of upper Sindh and Baluchistan. I cannot face all that, so I decided to migrate to India… I had a shop there but closed it about [a] year back. Some people I don’t know looted money from my shop so I had to close it. I was always afraid because life is in danger there. It was suffocating, so finally we decided to leave Pakistan forever and move to India after selling our house.”[116]

In August 2012, Pakistani daily The News carried a report titled “Is there a mass exodus of Hindus from Sindh?” The report was actually aimed at refuting the claim of mass immigration. However, it quoted Dr. Ramesh Kumar of the Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC), who said: “Every week, at least 20-25 families are leaving Pakistan from interior Sindh for India, as our lives are not protected in this country anymore.”[117] He added that law-enforcement agencies in the towns of Larkana, Sukkur, Tharparkar and Jacobabad were cronies of the powerful Sardars and were unable to act against the extortionists and kidnappers in the region, stating: “The … [heads] of police stations in these areas are more powerful than the IG [Inspector General of the province] because they are appointed politically.”[118]

Persecution Of Ahmadi Muslims

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was founded in 1889 by spiritual leader Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) in the northern Indian town of Qadian. Today the movement has followers in more than 200 countries, and its present-day headquarters is in the United Kingdom.[119] Islamic clerics in Pakistan accuse the Ahmadi Muslims of not believing that the Prophet Muhammad was the last prophet of God. The Ahmadi Muslims themselves respond that they do believe this, but that they also believe that a certain kind of wahi(revelation) from God continues even today, and that their spiritual leader was one of its recipients.

In 1974, under the influence of fundamentalist forces in Pakistan, the secular government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto passed a law designating Ahmadi Muslims as non-Muslim. Under this and subsequent legislation, Ahmadi Muslims are forbidden to call their places of worship “mosques” or build them to look like mosques, and are forbidden to use Islamic symbols and names in any manner; and Pakistani citizens or journalists who refer to Ahmadis as “Muslims” can be taken to court.

Moreover, an array of Islamic organizations – collectively known as Khatm-e-Nabuwwat (End-of-Prophecy) groups – have created a cultural atmosphere of intense prejudice against Ahmadi Muslims, leading to numerous cases of discrimination against them and even to a boycott of Ahmadi-owned businesses and companies. Ahmadis Muslims are dismissed as Mirzais (followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad) or Qadianis, i.e. after the town of Qadian where the Ahmadiyya movement began. The beliefs of Ahmadi Muslims are pejoratively dismissed as Qadianiat (thinking of Qadian).

As in the case of Christians, Ahmadi Muslims face charges of blasphemy brought against them by the police or by various powerful individuals; many of them are murdered or robbed of their property; and their places of worship are subject to attack. Also, there are demands in Pakistan to bar them from government positions. Perhaps the biggest attack on Ahmadi Muslims in recent years was the May 2010 attack in Lahore, in which Taliban suicide bombers targeted the city’s two Ahmadi mosques during the Friday prayers, leaving some 90 people dead and 200 wounded.[120]

Lahore Bar Association Bans Selling Of Juice And Other Goods From Ahmadi Muslim-Owned Firms In Courthouses; Islamic Clerics Investigate And Certify The Faith Of QMobile Owners


Certificate issued by clerics confirming the Muslim faith of QMobile owners (Roznama Ummat, January 14, 2012)

Like other minorities, Ahmadi Muslims face discrimination from all sections of Pakistani society, including the educated elite and government officials. In early 2012, the Lahore Bar Association (LBA), a representative body of lawyers, initiated a ban against selling the Shezan brand of juice, and other goods produced by companies owned by Ahmadi Muslims, in Lahore courthouses. According to a report,the decision was taken on the recommendation of Advocate Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, president of the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat Lawyers Forum, one of the numerous “End-of-Prophecy” groups that have sprung up in Pakistan over the years. LBA President Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali said that a team had been formed to enforce the decision, and vowed tough action against those found buying or selling Ahmadi-owned products on court premises.”[121]

In early 2012, a furor was sparked in Pakistan when it was discovered that mobile phones manufactured by the local company QMobile do not enable users to write the word “Muhammad” in Urdu or Arabic script. Islamic clerics immediately voiced a suspicion that the company was owned by Ahmadis, that the “Q” in its name stood for “Qadian” (a town associated with Ahmadis), and that it aimed to defame the Prophet. Islamic clerics called for a verification of the faith of QMobile’s owners to ensure that they were not Ahmadis. An investigation later revealed that the problem was due to a software glitch and that the company owners were mainstream Muslims. In order to clear its name, the company published an announcement in the Urdu-language Roznama Ummat which said (see the image above): “We apologize to our clients that they experienced difficulty due to a problem in QMobile’s software, due to which the name of ‘Muhammad,’ peace be upon him, could not be written. This issue has been resolved completely… This software problem had no connection to Qadianiat [beliefs of Ahmadi Muslims]. Praise Allah, we are Muslims and have complete faith that Muhammad was the Seal of the Prophets… [We] consider any [later] claimant to prophethood as a false, lying and accursed infidel…”[122]

The announcement was accompanied by a certificate – verifying the faith of QMobile owners – from the Aalami Majlis-e-Tahaffuz-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwwat (International Council for the Defense of the Finality of the Prophethood), an organization of Islamic clerics which has been leading an international campaign against Ahmadi Muslims. The certificate stated: “This is to verify that we have met with the owners of the [the company] and have investigated their beliefs. We have reached the conclusion that [they]… are Muslims and firmly believe that Muhammad… is the last prophet of Allah…”[123]

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority Blocks Ahmadi Website “Because Ahmadis… [A]re Not Allowed To Propagate Their Religious Views Under The Constitution Of Pakistan”

In July 2012, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) blocked access to the official website of the Ahmadiyya community, Alislam.org, operated from outside the country. A PTA official explained that the website was blocked “because Ahmadis… [a]re not allowed to propagate their religious views under the constitution of Pakistan.”[124]The move came after the Muttahida Ulema Board (United Board of Islamic Clerics) accused the website of containing blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad. Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistani Ambassador to the United States, commented that the move “reflects religious intolerance and violates constitutional guarantee of religious freedom.”[125]

Pakistani Religious Organization’s Pamphlet Justifies Killing Of Ahmadis As “Jihad”

The killing of Ahmadi Muslims is justified by many Islamic clerics. A pamphlet issued by All Pakistan Students Khatm-e-Nabuwwat Federation, one of the many End-of Prophecy organizations, the killing of Ahmadi Muslims is termed “jihad.” The pamphlet (see the image below) states: “The Qadianiat [beliefs of Ahmadi Muslims] are a deadly poison”; “Oh Muslim brothers, we must recognize these people”; “It is jihad to shoot these people in the market”; “Awaken… and achieve martyrdom by killing them.”[126]

This pamphlet is not an isolated case. Similar sentiments are articulated every day in religious gatherings organized by Islamic clerics across Pakistan.


A pamphlet issued by an “end-of- prophecy” organization calls to kill Ahmadis

Target-Killings Of Ahmadi Muslims Continuing; Ahmadi Muslim Leader: “Ahmadis Are Completely At The Mercy Of Assassins”

An ideological campaign to eliminate Ahmadi Muslims from Pakistan is underway through acts of target killings. During 2001-2005, at least 79 deaths of Ahmadi Muslims were recorded in acts of target killings.[127] In 2012, at least 11 cases were recorded. For example, in May 2012, Tariq Ahmad, an Ahmadi Muslim, was shot dead in Layyah district of Punjab.[128] In July, 2012, Mukarram Naeem Ahmed Gondal (52), leader of Ahmadi community in the Orangi Town area of Karachi and an assistant director in the State Bank of Pakistan, was shot dead.[129]Two other victims this year were Abdul Qudoos Ahmad (43), a respected schoolteacher, who was “tortured to death while in police custody” in the city of Rabwah, the headquarters of the Ahmadi movement in Pakistan,[130]and Aslam Bhatti (34), also a schoolteacher, who was targeted in a drive-by shooting in Karachi. [131] Several other Ahmadis were been attacked but escaped death.”[132] These cases are too many to narrate here.

These killings of Ahmadi Muslims illustrate a pattern continuing from previous years. For example, in September 2008, two Ahmadi Muslims – Yousuf in Nawabshah and Abdul Mannan Siddiqi in Mirpur Khas – were shot dead.[133] In Sheikhupura district of the province, Dilawar Hussain, a 42-year-old teacher, was shot dead in October 2011 while teaching a class at a primary school in the village of Dere Golianwala.[134] At Ferozewala in Sheikhupura district, Chaudhry Basheer Ahmed was shot in September 2011.[135] In Muzaffar Colony of Faisalabad city, 55-year-old Naseem Ahmad Butt was shot dead in bed in September 2011 for being an Ahmadi Muslim.[136]

In addition, there have probably been deaths in small towns and villages that have not been reported in the media. In April 2012,Abdul Quddus, an Ahmadi teacher, was taken into police custody under false charge and tortured to death at Nusratabad in Chiniot district of Punjab province.[137] The deaths in 2012 join numerous previous killings of Ahmadis in recent years. In a letter to human rights organizations, Syed M. Mahmood, an Ahmadi Muslim leader, expressed the community’s concern: “Ahmadis are completely at the mercy of assassins who are targeting and killing them with impunity and police and other law-enforcement agencies… [are] doing nothing to thwart their actions.”[138]

Teacher Fired, Students Expelled By Schools In Faisalabad District For Being Ahmadi Muslims; College Principal Rusticates 23 Ahmadi Muslim Students

In October 2011, schools in Dharanwali area of the Hafizabad district of the Punjab province expelled 10 students and fired a female teacher for being Ahmadis.Yasir Abbas, the principal at one of the schools, explained: “This is not my decision… the entire village unanimously pressed me to expel all Ahmadis from the school, or else they would forcibly shut the school down.”[139] Saleemuddin, a spokesman for the Ahmadi Muslims, explained that the Punjab government had allowed people to register for schools online and made it mandatory for students to disclose their religion.[140]

In June 2008, Professor Dr. Asghar Ali Randhawa, principal of the Punjab Medical College in Faisalabad, suspended 23 Ahmadi students from the college. He did so after some students from an Islamist organization led a campaign against Ahmadi Muslims and put up posters criticizing their faith. [141]

Ahmadi Muslims Targeted For Using Muslim Symbols; Police Remove Koranic Texts From Ahmadi Muslims’ Graves; Police Demolish Ahmadi Mosque At Clerics’ Urging

Since the law forbids Ahmadis to “act or look” like Muslims, they are targeted by the authorities and by civilians for building houses of worship that look like mosques or for publically displaying various Muslim texts or symbols on their shops and homes, or even on their graves. In July 2012, police in the Pakistani town of Kharian in Punjab province destroyed six minarets of a mosque belonging to Ahmadi Muslims, following a complaint filed by the Tehreek-e-Tahaffuz-e-Islam (Movement for the Defense of Islam), an organization of Barelvi clerics who are known for their intolerance of other sects of Islam.

However, the demolition was carried out without a court order. Police officer Raja Zahid described the demolition as a result of an “amicable and peaceful process,” while a media report noted: “This is the first time since 1984 that minarets of a place of worship of Ahmadis have been destroyed by the police, though a number of places have been sealed by authorities in the past.”[142]

In August 2012, members of an Islamic organization called Aalami Majlis-e-Tahaffuz-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwwat (International Council for the Defense of Finality of Prophethood) took law in their own hands and removed Koranic text and religious words from the shop of an Ahmadi family at Kot Abdul Malik in Sheikhupura district, and in doing so they were helped by the local police.[143] According to a media report, other than Koranic texts, the word “MashAllah” – or Allah willing – was also removed along with the shop owner’s father’s name “Muhammad Ali” which was inscribed at the gate of their residence next to the shop.[144] Zia, the shop owner, was reported as saying that threats had arriving long before the clerics arrived at his door.

In August 2012, police in a village near Hafizabad in the Punjab province capitulated to the demand of a fundamentalist group and removed Koranic verses and religious texts from Ahmadi Muslims’ graves.[145] About 650 Ahmadi Muslims have resided in the village from the days when Pakistan was not even created, according to a media report, which noted that despite opposition from Nasir Javaid, acting Emir of the Hafizabad Ahmadiyya Jamaat, and other Ahmadi Muslim leaders, police officials, instead of the defending the community, decided to remove the texts, thereby defiling the graves.[146] In the same month, members of an Islamist organization removed a Koranic text from the shop of an Ahmadi family in the Sheikhupura district, with the aid of local police,[147] and in Rawalpindi, the police banned Ahmadis from offering the annual Eid-ul-Fitr prayer at their own Ewan-e-Tawheed mosque after some clerics raised objections.[148]

Ahmadi Muslims Implicated In Blasphemy Cases; Ahmadi Mosque Leader Accused Of Blasphemy For “Referring” To Quotes From The Koran And Hadith

The instances of Ahmadi Muslims being implicated in blasphemy cases are part of a pattern. In the Sindh province, an Ahmadi imam and four employees of an Ahmadi women’s monthly were accused of blasphemy merely for quoting from the Koran andhadith.In a complaint filed with the police, a preacher in the town of Tando Adam said that any act of “naming and quoting” Allah and the Prophet Muhammad, or referring to the Prophet as “beloved master” by Ahmadis were “blasphemous” and offended the religious sentiment of Muslims.[149]

In November 2004 in Faisalabad, an Ahmadi was sentenced to life imprisonment after a local mosque leader accused him of blasphemy. Blasphemy charges have even been brought against Ahmadi children. In early 2009, several Ahmadi boys aged 12-16 were arrested on charges of blasphemy,[150] and were jailed in the town of Dera Ghazi Khan.[151] In Muzaffargarh district, Abdus Sattar was arrested on charges of committing blasphemy against Allah and Prophet Muhammad in March 2006.[152] Most such accusations are seen by local journalists as completely false, mainly originating from varying reasons of religious prejudice and even from personal enmity.

Addressing Ahmadis, Pakistani Cleric Zahidur Rashidi Cites Prophet Muhammad-Era Practice To Justify The Killing Of False Prophets, Offers Two Options: Repent And Accept Islam, Or Be Killed

In a January 2, 2012 article titled “Qadianis Should Join the Mainstream of Muslims,” noted Islamic scholar Maulana Zahidur Rashidi, secretary-general of the Pakistan Shariat Council, wrote of a conference he had attended marking the death of a Muslim youth in a clash with Ahmadi Muslims at Goleki village in Gujarat district. According to the article, Maulana Rashidi called upon Ahmadis to repent their “false” faith propagated by their spiritual leader Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and join the true Islam, stating:

“Addressing them [at that conference], I told them that at the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), four people had claimed to be prophets and had gathered a crowd of their followers; two of them were killed, while the others expressed repentance and accepted Islam. Those who were killed were Musailmah Kazzab and Aswad Unsa, while those who entered into the fold of Islam were Taliha bin Khawilad Asadi (RA) and a woman called Sajjah.

“The two came into the fold of Islam and spent their last days as good Muslims. I call upon the Qadianis to follow the path of Taliha and Sajjah, leaving the path of Musailmah and Aswad Unsa and repenting of their false faith, and come back into mainstream Islam; they will be our Muslim brethren.”[153]

Pakistan’s Only Nobel Laureate, Abdus Salam, Disregarded Due To His Ahmadi Origins, His Headstone Disfigured After Authorities Ordered To Remove The Word “Muslim” From It

Physicist Abdus Salam (1926-1996), one of the scientists who paved the way to the discovery of the Higgs boson, and Pakistan’s only Nobel Prize laureate, is forgotten and dishonored in Pakistan because he was a member of the Ahmadi community. As a Pakistani journalist reported, “The two-room bungalow, the birthplace of Pakistan’s only Nobel laureate, today stands empty, testament to the indifference, bigotry and prejudice surrounding the country’s greatest scientist.”[154]

Dr. Salam left Pakistan for England in 1974 after the passage of the law declaring Ahmadis non-Muslim. After his death in Oxford, his body was brought to Pakistan and buried next to his parents’ graves in the town of Rabwah. The epitaph on his grave initially read “First Muslim Nobel Laureate,” but later a Pakistani court ordered that the word “Muslim” be removed from the epitaph, leaving the nonsensical description “First Nobel Laureate.”

In a 2010 article, Pakistani columnist Masood Hasan commented: “Fourteen years after his death in Oxford, Dr. Salam rests in a modest graveyard near the Chenab River in Punjab, his grave disfigured on the orders of a lowly magistrate who had the word ‘Muslim’ gouged out of his tombstone. The royal orders were happily complied with. The town of Rabwah, of course, is already ‘christened’ Chenab Nagar. Maybe they should extend the farce further and call all those who inhabit this perpetually-threatened place ‘Chenabis.’ A magistrate can ‘do the needful,’ as the Babus [i.e. bureaucrats] say…

“It has been 31 years since he became our first and only Nobel laureate, and nearly 14 years since his death. The doctrinal differences over faith seem to have far more importance to this country than anything else. We will name no airport, or a road, or build a monument, an institution, initiate a scholarship – no, we will barely tolerate who he was. We are blinded by our bigotry and hatred. Will we seek forgiveness for how we treated one of the great, if not the greatest, sons of Pakistan? No, we won’t. Many Pakistanis will continue to deny this unique man, and therein lies our shame, except we have none. We lost it many years ago.”[155]

Conclusion

In all spheres of Pakistani society – including the administrative, military, police and judicial branches of government – minorities are experiencing discrimination, social avoidance, and hate crimes. This is a result of an interpretation of Islam that has been favored in Pakistan since its creation in 1947, an interpretation aimed at making Pakistan a nation of “true” Muslims only. This interpretation is reflected in the actions of local officials and in government policies, for example in the 1974 law that declares Ahmadis non-Muslim.

Where this interpretation fails at the level of government policymaking, it is still reflected in villages and city streets, leading to acts of discrimination, hate and violence. Almost all influential Islamic organizations in Pakistan approve this interpretation of Islam, including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and its parent organization Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan (JI), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), Sunni Tehreek (ST), and various Khatm-e-Nabuwwat groups.


Cartoonist: Sabir Nazar, viewpointonline.net.

Pakistani Columnist Dr. Mohammad Taqi: “The Sanitized Discourse And Muted Response To… [The Killings] Is Similar To What Happened In Nazi Germany”; “Present-Day Nazis In Pakistan Have Succeeded In Coercing Or Co-opting A Vast Majority Of Their Countrymen”

The growing attacks on all minorities in Pakistan are causing serious concern among liberal Pakistani thinkers. In an August 2012 article, Raza Rumi, director of policy and programs at the Islamabad-based think tank Jinnah Institute, spoke of the killing of Shi’ites in terms of “a genocide [that is] unfolding before us.”[170]

Leading Pakistani columnist Dr. Mohammad Taqi condemned the “muted response” to the growing massacres of minorities, observing: “The sanitized discourse and muted response to… [the killings of minorities] is similar to what happened in Nazi Germany. It seems that the present-day Nazis in Pakistan have succeeded in coercing or co-opting a vast majority of their countrymen into backing them. More vicious than the massacre at the Babusar Top [where Shi’ite Muslims were plucked out of buses and shot dead] was the muffled response of the Pakistani political leaders, rightwing intelligentsia and the military leadership….”[171]

Pakistani Journalist Amir Matin: “20% Of Pakistanis – The 15%… Deobandis Plus 5% Of Ahle Hadith [Who Represent The Dominant Version Of Sunni Islam In Pakistan] – Strictly Consider The Remaining 80% As Kafir, Even Willing To Subject Them To Death And Destruction”

In a recent article titled “Who Gets To Be A Muslim In Pakistan?” Murtaza Haider, a liberal academic and columnist, noted: “If Muhammad Ali Jinnah [the founder of Pakistan who belonged to a sect of Shi’ite Islam] were alive today, only half of Pakistan would consider him a Muslim. The ethnic, sectarian, and tribal fault lines have reached such depths that the nation once founded to be the homeland of Muslims is now bickering over who gets to be called a Muslim.”[172]

This question as to who is a true Muslim in Pakistan also affected Muhammad Ali Jinnah even after his death. When the founder of Pakistan died, Sunni Deobandi-Salafist clerics did not allow his “official” funeral to be led by a Shi’ite cleric. A Pakistani website observes that when Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his sister Fatimah Jinnah died, they “were given private Shi’ite burial rituals initially before the State [of Pakistan] they created swung into motion and [by ensuring a Sunni Deobandi funeral] made a sectarian issue of their burials. Jinnah’s state funeral was not allowed to be led by a Shi’ite cleric. That was a formal declaration that Pakistan is a Sunni State.”[173]

In an article in July 2010, Pakistani journalist Amir Mir commented on how the search for a true Muslim is dividing the country into various sects, observing: “In a way, a minority of Pakistan’s population has taken to declaring the rest as kafir [infidel]…. Most agree on the following composition of Pakistan’s population: 60% Barelvis, 15% Deobandis, 15% Shi’ites, 5% Ahle Hadith, and the remaining 5% constituting Ahmadis, Ismailis, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Parsis, etc. This means that 20% of Pakistanis – the 15% who are Deobandis plus 5% of Ahle Hadith [who represent the dominant version of Sunni Islam and enjoy the support of the Pakistani state] – strictly consider the remaining 80% as kafir, even willing to subject them to death and destruction.”[174]

* Tufail Ahmad is Director of MEMRI’s South Asia Studies Project (www.memri.org/sasp).

 

Endnotes:

[1] Business-standard.com (India), April 16, 2012. The original English of all media reports quoted in this dispatch has been lightly edited for clarity and standardization.

[3] Thedailystar.net (Bangladesh), January 24, 2008. Renowned Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir estimates the number of Bangla-speaking Muslims killed by the Pakistan Army at about three million. Bangladeshi government too puts the number at three millions, but some researchers put the figure at between 300,000 and 500,000, according to a BBC report. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18049515, accessed September 15, 2012.

[4] In Pakistani society, the term “minority” carries a pejorative connotation.

[5] http://dawn.com/2012/07/26/balochistan-case-sc-resumes-hearing-5/, July 26, 2012. A United Nations team is probing the Pakistani intelligence agencies’ role in abductions and killings in Baluchistan.

[6] Dawn.com (Pakistan), August 14, 2012.

[9] CIA’s World Factbook (cia.gov/library/index.html), accessed August 14, 2012.

[11] The News (Pakistan), August 2, 2009.

[12] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), August 1, 2012.

[13] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), August 1, 2012.

[14] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), August 1, 2012.

[15] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), August 1, 2012.

[16] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), August 1, 2012.

[17] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), July 10, 2012.

[18] Daily Times (Pakistan), September 16, 2009.

[19] Bbcurud.com (UK), May 29, 2004.

[20] Bbcurdu.com (UK), September 11, 2005.

[21] Bbcurdu.com (UK), April 4, 2007.

[22] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), March 15, 2008.

[24] Bbcurdu.com (UK), July 20, 2010.

[25] Daily Times (Pakistan), July 6, 2011.

[27] It should be noted that some sources claim she is older (14 or 16) and that she is not mentally impaired. Bbc.co.uk, August 27, 2012.

[28] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), August 18, 2012. Rimsha Masih was released on bail and a local cleric arrested for bringing the blasphemy allegations against her. This is perhaps the first such case when mass sentiment turned against the clerics temporarily.

[29] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), August 20, 2012.

[32] Rediff.com (India), April 28, 2012.

[33] Daily Times (Pakistan), March 28, 2012.

[34] Daily Times (Pakistan), March 28, 2012.

[35] Daily Times (Pakistan), March 28, 2012.

[36] Rediff.com (India), April 28, 2012.

[37] Dawn.com (Pakistan), November 24, 2010. Some media reports indicate that she has five children.

[40] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), February 15, 2011.

[42] Roznama Express (Pakistan), February 17, 2011.

[43] The News (Pakistan), March 3, 2011.

[44] The News (Pakistan), March 4, 2011.

[46] The News (Pakistan), October 24, 2010.

[47] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), July 20, 2012.

[48] Daily Times (Pakistan), May 3, 2010.

[49] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), August 4, 2012.

[50] Daily Times (Pakistan), January 17, 2004.

[51] Daily Times (Pakistan), March 2, 2006.

[52] Daily Times (Pakistan), February 4, 2006.

[53] Daily Times (Pakistan), May 11, 2007.

[54] Daily Times (Pakistan), September 12, 2009.

[55] Daily Times (Pakistan), September 19, 2010.

[56] Daily Times (Pakistan), March 23, 2011.

[57] Daily Times (Pakistan), May 1, 2011.

[58] Dawn.com (Pakistan), September 21, 2012.

[59] The News (Pakistan), June 13, 2012.

[60] Roznama Munsif (Pakistan), May 4, 2009.

[61] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), May 21, 2012.

[62] Dawn.com (Pakistan), March 29, 2012.

[63] The News (Pakistan), September 14, 2009.

[64] Daily Times (Pakistan), July 20, 2011.

[66] The News (Pakistan), July 9, 2010.

[67] The News (Pakistan), July 9, 2010.

[68] The News (Pakistan), July 9, 2010.

[69] The News (Pakistan), June 28, 2009.

[70] Roznama Express (Pakistan), June 3, 2009.

[71] Daily Times (Pakistan), May 1, 2009.

[72] Roznama Mashriq (Pakistan), February 22, 2010.

[73] Roznama Mashriq (Pakistan), February 14, 2011.

[74] TimesofIndia.com (India), March 18, 2010.

[75] TimesofIndia.com (India), March 18, 2010.

[76] The News (Pakistan), August 30, 2010.

[77] The News (Pakistan), August 30, 2010.

[78] The News (Pakistan), August 30, 2010.

[79] The News (Pakistan), August 30, 2010.

[80] The News (Pakistan), August 30, 2010.

[81] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), August 31, 2010.

[82] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), August 31, 2010.

[83] The News (Pakistan), June 13, 2012.

[84] The News (Pakistan), June 13, 2012.

[85] Daily Times (Pakistan), May 26, 2010.

[86] Daily Times (Pakistan), May 26, 2010.

[87] Daily Times (Pakistan), May 26, 2010.

[88] The News (Pakistan), September 20, 2009.

[89] The News (Pakistan), January 4, 2012.

[90] The News (Pakistan), March 1, 2012.

[91] The News (Pakistan), March 1, 2012.

[92] Daily Times (Pakistan), April 19, 2012.

[93] The News (Pakistan), October 12, 2011.

[94] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), August 10, 2012.

[95] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), August 10, 2012.

[96] The News (Pakistan), March 11, 2012.

[97] The News (Pakistan), March 11, 2012.

[98] The News (Pakistan), March 30, 2010.

[99] The News (Pakistan), March 30, 2010.

[100] The News (Pakistan), March 30, 2010.

[101] The News (Pakistan), March 26, 2012.

[102] The News (Pakistan), March 26, 2012.

[103] The News (Pakistan), March 30, 2010.

[104] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), May 25, 2010.

[105] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), May 25, 2010.

[106] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), May 25, 2010.

[107] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), May 25, 2010.

[108] The News (Pakistan), April 29, 2008.

[109] Roznama Nawa-i-Waqt (Pakistan), October 19, 2010.

[110] Daily Times (Pakistan), March 4, 2005.

[111] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), December 29, 2010.

[112] Dawn (Pakistan), September 3, 2011.

[113] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), August 9, 2012.

[114] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), August 9, 2012.

[115] Dailypioneer.com (India), November 22, 2011.

[116] Hindustantimes.com (India), August 13, 2012.

[117] The News (Pakistan), August 9, 2012.

[118] The News (Pakistan), August 9, 2012.

[119] Alislam.org (UK), accessed August 15, 2012. Ahmadis call themselves Muslims and therefore are described in this report as Ahmadi Muslims.

[120] Roznama Express (Pakistan), May 29, 2010.

[121] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), February 13, 2012.

[122] Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), January 14, 2012.

[124] The Nation (Pakistan), July 6, 2012.

[125] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), July 6, 2012.

[127] Bbcurdu.com (UK), September 10, 2008.

[128] Press.saapk.org, accessed August 20, 2012.

[129] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), July 19, 2012.

[130] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), April 1, 2012.

[131] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), June 26, 2012.

[132] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), July 19, 2012.

[133] Bbcurdu.com (UK), September 10, 2008.

[134] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), October 3, 2011.

[135] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), September 8, 2011.

[136] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), September 5, 2011.

[137] The News (Pakistan), April 5, 2012.

[138] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), September 10, 2011.

[139] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), October 8, 2011.

[140] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), October 8, 2011

[141] http://www.thepersecution.org/case/case007.html, accessed August 21, 2012.

[142] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), July 12, 2012.

[143] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), August 20, 2012.

[144] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), August 20, 2012.

[145] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), August 19, 2012.

[146] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), August 19, 2012.

[147] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), August 20, 2012.

[148] Tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), August 22, 2012.

[149] Daily Times (Pakistan), March 19, 2006.

[150] Bbcurdu.com (UK), January 29, 2009.

[151] Daily Times (Pakistan), February 7, 2009.

[152] BBCUrdu.com (UK), March 14, 2006.

[154] Dawn.com (Pakistan), July 30, 2012.

[156] CIA’s World Factbook (cia.gov/library/index.html), accessed August 14, 2012.

[157] Dawn.com (Pakistan), August 15, 2012.

[158] Dawn.com (Pakistan), August 16, 2012.

[159] Dawn.com (Pakistan), August 16, 2012.

[160] The News (Pakistan), February 29, 2012.

[161] Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), April 4, 2012.

[162] Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), April 4, 2012.

[163] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), September 21, 2011.

[164] The News (Pakistan), June 29, 2012.

[165] Pakshia.com (Pakistan), accessed August 16, 2012.

[166] The News (Pakistan), May 31, 2012.

[167] Pakshia.com (Pakistan), accessed August 18, 2012.

[168] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), August 17, 2012.

[170] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), August 20, 2012.

[171] Daily Times (Pakistan), August 23, 2012.

[172] Dawn.com (Pakistan), August 15, 2012.

[173] http://criticalppp.com/archives/222082, accessed August 14, 2012.

[174] http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4675.htm, October 14, 2010.

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