Pakistan

The Persecution of the Ahmadis in Pakistan. 3. The Bhutto and Zia Years

by Massimo Introvigne — As we have seen in the previous articles, after the bloody Lahore riots in 1953, the Ahmadis went in Pakistan through a period in which, while they were still harassed and discriminated, they were somewhat protected from major violence. Things changed with the rise to power of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Educated in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, this wealthy lawyer served as a minister in most of the military-controlled governments that ruled Pakistan since the coup of 1958. In 1967, having been excluded from the government of Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan, Bhutto founded a “socialist Islamic” political party called Pakistan People’s Party, whose motto was “Islam is our faith, democracy is our policy, socialism is our economy.” After the ruinous secession of Bangladesh of 1971, and Pakistan’s defeat in the war with India, the military called Bhutto, whose party enjoyed widespread national support, as the nation’s only hope to avoid further bloodshed. He served as President of Pakistan from 1971 to 1973, and as Prime Minister from 1973 to 1977.

The Persecution of the Ahmadis in Pakistan. 2. The Lahore Riots of 1953

by Massimo Introvigne — Because of the theological peculiarities discussed in the first article of the series, the Ahmadis were regarded as heretics by the other Muslims and persecuted since their foundation. Their bloodiest persecution was, however, a consequence of the foundation of Pakistan as a state for the Muslims of former British India. The persecution of religious minorities should not have happened, and was not part of the original project of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the father of modern Pakistan. When he was elected President of the Constituent Assembly in 1947, Jinnah promised to the citizens of Pakistan: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the state….

The Persecution of the Ahmadis in Pakistan. 1. Who Are the Ahmadis?

by Massimo Introvigne — One of the oldest and bloodiest persecutions of a religious minority in the world today is targeting the Ahmadis in Pakistan. In this series, we will examine where this persecution comes from and who fuels it. First, we will have a look at who the Ahmadis exactly are.

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908) was born and lived for most of his life in Qadian, Punjab (for which his followers are sometimes called Qadianis). In the years 1880-1884 he wrote the four volumes of the work Barahin-i-Ahmadiyya, intended to show the superiority of Islam on other faiths, and particularly on Christianity, welcomed by many Islamic circles. In 1889, he announced to have received a divine revelation, around which a community of followers gathered.

Statistics about victims of blasphemy laws (1987-2021)

Presentation by lawyer Akmal Bhatti, director of the Minorities Association of Pakistan (MAP) to the press conference “Is Suspension Of Pakistan’s GSP+ Status Overdue?” at the Press Club Brussels, hosted by Human Rights Without Frontiers – Brussels, 9 September 2021

By Akmal Bhatti — HRWF (21.09.2021) Since 1987 to August 2021, 1,865 people have been charged under the blasphemy laws, with a significant spike in 2020, when 200 cases were registered. Punjab, the province where most Christians of Pakistan live, is leading with 76% cases and 337 people in prison for blasphemy. The largest number of inmates is in the Lahore District Jail (60). Also, at least 128 people have been killed by mobs, outside any judiciary process, after being signalled as having committed blasphemy or apostasy, without any chance to have access to an investigation, and nobody has been arrested for their murder.

Local Police disguised as civilians desecrate another Ahmadiyya mosque in Faisalabad, Pakistan as part of continued state-sponsored persecution of Ahmadis

By CAPLC — A few months ago, we reported about the demolition of the minarets and domes of the various Ahmadiyya mosques in Pakistan carried out under the supervision of local police authorities. Unfortunately, we again regret to report another destruction and demolition in a rural settlement called 261 R-B, Adhwali district Faisalabad, Pakistan. This profane act was orchestrated by the local police itself disguising themselves as civilians.

European Parliament: Pakistan Blasphemy Law Incompatible with Trade Benefits

by Massimo Introvigne — On April 30, 681 members of the European Parliament voted in favor of a motion censoring Pakistan for its human rights and religious liberty violations. Only three MEPs opposed it. The motion focuses on Pakistan’s law on blasphemy, and on the case of the Christian couple Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel. They were arrested in 2013 and sentenced to death in 2014 for blasphemy. The case originated from messages insulting Prophet Muhammad sent to a Muslim cleric using a SIM card registered in Shagufta’s name. However, the couple denies any knowledge of the messages, and claims that the SIM card was purchased and used by an unknown person who impersonated Shagufta when registering it.

Pakistan: Adventist Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy

by Massimo Introvigne — Is life imprisonment an adequate punishment in Pakistan for sending an SMS critical of Prophet Muhammad? No, said last week the Lahore High Court: only the death sentence would do. Sajjad Masih Gill is a 35-year Seventh-day Adventist from the district of Pakpatan, in the province of Punjab. In 2011, he was accused of having sent blasphemous SMS defaming Prophet Muhammad and arrested. The police did not find any evidence in his cell phone that the SMS had in fact been sent, but said it had been able to trace the messages back to his phone number through a cellphone tower. He and his lawyers maintained he had simply been framed as part of a crackdown on the Adventist community.

Catholic Girl Forcibly Converted in Pakistan Seeks Asylum in the UK

by PierLuigi Zoccatelli — More than 1,000 Christian and Hindu girls, many of them under age, complain every year that they have been kidnapped, forced to marry their captors, and compelled to sign statements that they have converted to Islam. To his credit, Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered in December 2000 an investigation into this disturbing phenomenon. However, incidents continue to happen, and local courts often side with the kidnappers, based on the formalistic argument that, once it happened, a conversion to Islam cannot be renounced, without committing the capital crime of apostasy.

PAKISTAN: Christian acquitted of ‘blasphemy’ after six years on death row

Barnabas Fund (06.10.2020) – Pakistani Christian Sawan Masih was acquitted of “blasphemy” charges by the High Court in Lahore on 5 October, after enduring more than six years imprisoned on death row.
His defence lawyer, Tahir Bashir, told the court that the case against the father-of-three was fabricated by his Muslim accuser in March 2013 because of a property dispute in Joseph Colony, the Christian area of Badami Bagh in Lahore where Sawan Masih lived. The accusation triggered riots that left hundreds of Christians homeless.

Request to UNHCR to review the guidelines about the Pakistani Christians refugees matter

The European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB) supports Lord David Alton’s request addressed to UNHCR - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - to review the guidelines about the Pakistani refugees matter.
According to Lord Alton, the UNHCR is denying the existence of an ongoing persecution against Pakistani Christians, reducing such dramatic situation to a case of simple discrimination.