December 6, 2012, 3:49 am
LONDON — On Monday, a dozen masked gunmen said to be affiliated with the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba broke into a graveyard in an elite neighborhood of Lahore, the historic capital of Punjab Province. They tied up the guard, a caretaker and about 20 visitors, and then vandalized 120 gravestones.
Anti-Ahmadi sentiment is so pervasive among Pakistanis that even members of the community who should be hailed as national heroes are vilified.
It was a graveyard for Ahmadis, a minority sect that identifies itself as Muslim but is rejected by most Pakistanis as heretical for believing there was a prophet after Muhammad. The vandals destroyed gravestones inscribed with Koranic verses; they frown on Ahmadis’ using Muslim prayers in epitaphs.
As Pakistan grows increasingly intolerant of minorities, Ahmadis are becoming prime targets of both violence and widespread discrimination.
In 2008, within 48 hours of a television broadcast featuring a popular televangelist and clerics who argued that Ahmadis should be killed, two members of the community were shot dead in separate incidents. In the most egregious attack to date, Pakistani Taliban simultaneously attacked two mosques in Lahore in 2010, killing 93 Ahmadis.