May 2011

 

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Pakistan’s Ahmadis Still Suffering a Year after Lahore Attacks

Nasim Malik

 

The 86 dead Ahmadis are still awaiting justice a year after they were
massacred during Friday prayers in Lahore.

A year after the terrifying and horrendous massacre of 86 members of the Ahmadiyyah Muslim community on May 28, 2010, in Lahore the world remains deeply in shock, appalled by this act of religious terrorism, cold-bloodedly covered up by the government of Pakistan.

The 86 murdered were part of a Friday worship service in Darul Zikr mosque in Lahore and Baitul Noor mosque in Model Town in another part of the city. During the course of this carnage, nearly 150 others were seriously injured.

The next day the security forces arrested six terrorists who confessed that they had carried out the attack on the Darul Zikr mosque, but no action to this day has been taken against anyone. Both the mosques are in close proximity to police stations that could clearly hear the gunshots and explosions, but they did not arrive at the mosques until the terrorists had exhausted all their ammunition. Even when they appeared, the police did not allow the emergency services to enter the mosques, which could have saved many innocent lives of the worshippers.

Meanwhile, the families of the victims of this carnage have received no support or assistance from the government, and the widows and orphans have been left to suffer and care for themselves.

The government of Pakistan has usurped the fundamental human rights of the Ahmadis in Pakistan—the right of religious freedom—by declaring them non-Muslims in 1984. This was perpetuated by the infamous Ordinance XX promulgated by Gen. Zia ul Haq under which Ahmadi Muslims can be sentenced to death or imprisoned for practicing the Islamic faith or using Islamic scriptures or epithets.

More than 200 Ahmadi Muslims have been murdered in Pakistan for following their faith since 1984, and several hundred have been prosecuted and imprisoned under the infamous blasphemy laws.

Pakistan today is infected with Islamists persisting in their hardline interpretation of Islam based on force and violence to promote their objectives and promote terrorist activities that result in a frightful loss of innocent lives on a daily basis.

The federal government has taken no bold nor effective steps to curb and eliminate the activities of extremists who are continuing to erode the very values on which Pakistan was established.

The political parties in Pakistan too have shown no inclination to confront the religious bigotry, extremism and violence that has shattered the social and economic fabric of society.

Pakistan is a signatory to the U.N. Human Rights Charter and its ancillary declarations, but its attitude and treatment of minorities, particularly Ahmadis, is deplorable.

Ahmadis, who are now well established in 198 countries around the world, have earned an international reputation as being a very tolerant, law-abiding and peace-loving community. In Pakistan, however, they have been treated horribly, unjustly and discriminately to the extent they cannot even vote, but they have never protested or acted against the State of Pakistan.

Ahmadi generals and soldiers have shed their blood in the country’s wars to protect the nation’s integrity, but today the government of Pakistan does not show the slightest regard for their rights, safety and security.

The May 28 massacre last year bestows an undeniable slur of cruelty and atrocity upon Pakistan, and its continued injustice and violation of the fundamental rights of Ahmadis will not vanish in vain. It is thus time that the government of Pakistan sanely attends to its obligations towards all its citizens without discrimination to save itself from the path of destruction upon which it is treading. It is now time for the government of Pakistan to act.

* Nasim Malik was a member of Sweden’s Parliament and can be contacted by e-mail at <Nasim.Malik@kalmar.se>.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is a regional non-governmental organization monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984. More information is available on AHRC’s web site at <http://www.ahrchk.net/index.php>.
The views shared in this article do not necessarily reflect those of AHRC, and AHRC takes no responsibility for them
.