The Gujranwala riot
Gujranwala (Punjab); July 27, 2014: Ms. Bushra Bibi and her two granddaughters, aged 8 years and 7 months, died when extremists set fire to Ahmadi homes in Gujranwala whilst local police stood by and watched.
Further, Ms. Mubashara, who was 7-month pregnant, suffered a miscarriage on account of exposure to heat, suffocation and shock of the violence.
Eight others, mostly women and children, were treated for burns, asphyxiation, etc; a few were injured severely.
Anti-Ahmadi extremists led by mullas attacked Ahmadi homes on the false pretext that an Ahmadi youth had defaced a picture of the Sacred Mosque in Makkah on the Facebook. The clerics made announcements on sound amplifiers in mosques to gather hundreds of goons against the peace-loving innocent Ahmadis.
The violent mob attacked Ahmadis’ homes and shops, ransacked and looted them, and set them on fire after spraying them with petrol. Nearly half of the homes in this neighborhood were gutted. The perpetrators of these crimes were seen dancing (Bhangra) on TV screen on this occasion. They also started a fire in the Ahmadiyya prayer-centre in this neighborhood.
In one home, Ahmadis, unable to flee, took refuge on the first floor. The religious thugs entered the house, went up, locked the family and lit fire from outside the room. This resulted in death of three persons and serious injuries to many others trapped inside.
Initially anti-Ahmadi elements accused the Ahmadi youth of blasphemy; it was rebutted. This resulted in an argument and a petty quarrel. However, soon thereafter, mullas took the lead, assembled an agitated crowd and the attack started at about 8:30 p.m. The lynch mob that numbered in hundreds dispersed well after midnight. The police were present at the site but took no effective action to block or stop the riot.
|Two scenes of the riot. In both pictures police officials are seen at peace and harmony with the mob watching the blaze.|
It is said that the chief minister subsequently told the administration to take notice of the situation. However, the administration officials at that time were present at the site, and the police had granted laissez faire to the mob. The policemen could be seen in perfect harmony and peace among the rabble. It was the same chief minister in 2010 who had not the courtesy to offer condolences and sympathy to Ahmadis over the death of 86 worshippers who were killed in a simultaneous attack in two Ahmadi mosques in his provincial capital.
Fire brigade and ambulances arrived but were not allowed to perform by the mob. The police did not help them either, as also they did not stop the looters from indulging in plunder and arson.
All this happened in the holy month of Ramadan in which Muslims are expected to be helpful, kind and tolerant. Also, it was only one day before the festival of Eid, and death and destruction was the ‘gift’ offered to Ahmadis by the mullas and the administration. There is good reason to believe that the shocking riot was pre-planned. Gujranwala-based Deobandi mulla Zahid-ur-Rashidi is one of the top clerics in the policy and planning team of the rabidly anti-Ahmadiyya Khatme Nabuwwat organisation. He runs a madrassah in Gujranwala, and on July 31, 2014 he openly chaired a meeting of approximately 200 mullas (including some Shia ulama) over this issue, where a set of demands was agreed upon for presentation to the police.
The police registered a case under Anti-terrorism clause ATA 11-W and PPC 324, 295-A, a blasphemy clause, against Mr. Aqib Saleem and Mr. Atiq Ahmad, the accused Ahmadi youths, in FIR 553/14 in Police Station Peoples Colony, Gujranwala on July 28, 2014. If declared guilty, they could be imprisoned for 10 years.
This neighborhood has a sizeable presence of the Shia community; they extended little help to Ahmadis in their plight, in fact they supported the gang leaders and the mob action.
Encouraged by the inaction of authorities, a mulla of a local mosque later took pledge on loudspeakers from his flock during the Eid congregation that they would deliver even worse to other Ahmadis (elsewhere).
As for the accusation, the Supreme Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya community said, “It has been falsely claimed that this attack was provoked by a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. This allegation is completely untrue and without any foundation whatsoever. If those who perpetrated this attack truly felt that one person had provoked them then they should have sought his arrest, but instead they chose to burn alive an elderly lady and her two granddaughters. In truth this was an entirely unprovoked assault on all forms of human decency….”
The role of the media on this occasion deserves a mention. The TV channels that are very prompt in ‘Breaking News’ of even non-events were shy of reporting this event that was reported by foreign media too. Some local channels initially reported it as a clash between two groups. Some insinuated that the mob reacted in response to firing from the other party. Hardly anyone mentioned that Ahmadis were the target of this shocking and devastating attack. The Urdu press conserved its space in reporting this outrage against Ahmadis. The English press, however, took due notice and the dailies Dawn, Daily Times, The Express Tribune, Pakistan Today and The News reported the story adequately and commented fairly.
Political leaders took notice of the barbarity of the attack and expressed condemnation, but only in the social media; the politically bold MQM issued a statement conveying sympathy for the victims; it was run on TV tape. The ruling PML-N however decided to be careful in due condemnation of the extremist and sectarian bigots.
Some twitter messages in the social media were hateful. “Ahmadis deserved what they got,” someone tweeted. Others insisted that they deserve death (Wajib-ul-Qatl). There were, of course, many comments in support of the victims.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slammed Ahmadis’ killings in Gujranwala and expressed ‘shock’ and ‘disgust’ over the violence that ‘represents brutalization and barbarism stooping to new lows’.
The Ahmadi population of the affected neighborhood, scores of them, had to flee from their homes and take refuge in towns where they could find some security. Their livelihood and daily lives have been very badly affected. Their dead could not be buried in Gujranwala; their coffins had to be transported to Rabwah for interment. Their return to their homes is yet to be facilitated by the authorities.
Gujranwala is the city where more Ahmadis than the total of all in other cities in Pakistan were killed in anti-Ahmadi riots in 1974. The present attack was styled somewhat on Gojra lines where 7 Christians were burnt alive by a vicious mob sometimes ago. Gojra is also located in the Punjab province.
Mr. Saleem Ud Din, the Ahmadiyya spokesperson, demanded an immediate, impartial and transparent inquiry and due punishment to the involved culprits.
Ulama assume charge to defend the attackers. The daily Express, Lahore of August 8, 2014 reported that the Joint Khatme Nabuwwat Movement Coordination Committee demanded that the authorities take most serious notice of the defiling of the picture of the Ka‘ba in Makkah and the guilty be befittingly punished. A joint meeting was held under the chairmanship of (mulla) Zahid-ur-Rashidi of Gujranwala, and was attended by Ulama Karam and leaders of many politico-religious parties.
It appears that these blood-thirsty clerics were not content with the mulla-led havoc caused and imposed on vulnerable Ahmadis on July 27, and decided unabashedly to maintain an aggressive attitude, defend the criminals and further intimidate the victims. In this they were set to browbeat the administration and the judiciary.
According to the daily Express, the meeting was attended by senior leadership of JUI, JUP, JI, Majlis Ahrar Islam, Jamiat Ahle Hadith, Tanzim Islami, Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat, Aalami Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat, Tehrik Hurmat Rasul and International Lawyers Forum, Pakistan. Justice (Retd) Nazir Ahmad Ghazi was appointed chairman of the Legal Committee (to defend the culprits).
The attendance of these leaders at the meeting showed that these parties remain committed to violence, to religious thugs and denial of rights to the marginalized sections of the society. Some of these parties occasionally talk of human rights, tolerance and unity etc, but it is obvious that thereby they pay only lip service to the higher social values; otherwise their sectarian, extremist and violence-prone policy and commitment remain unchanged.
Mulla Zahid-ur-Rashidi is the same cleric who at the turn of this year 2013/2014 visited South Africa and India, and called for formation of a vast anti-Shia front in the region. He seems to thrive on sectarian violence, extremism and disunity – and in this he is not alone.
It is regrettable to point out that the Gujranwala incident that caused waves in human rights circles worldwide failed to persuade the Punjab political leaders and administration to review their policy concerning religious extremists and sectarian bigots in their province.
A subsequent medical report
The Administrator Tahir Heart Institute (THI) Rabwah, one of the top medical facilities in the Punjab related the following in one of his addresses in London a few weeks later:
“…We can all recall the tragic Gujranwala incident in Pakistan. Violent and insane protesters in the name of Islam burnt a number of Ahmadi houses, looted property and martyred innocent women and children. Among them was a pregnant brave lady – Mubashara, who lost her full term baby and herself suffered grievous suffocated lung injury – a condition called Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome. It carries a very high mortality. On ventilatory life-support her life hung in balance. But with Huzoor Aqdas (Khalifa tul Masih V) and Jamaat’s prayers, she got a second lease of life. As she walked out of the portals of THI, she smilingly remarked, “Dr Nuri, Jazakumalla (May God reward you). I’ve witnessed the proof of Allah’s existence.”
“Similarly, two poor Ahmadis, both victims of the Gujranwala incident, were ignorant of their heart condition. The mental and physical trauma, thus suffered, triggered heart attack and brought them to THI. One underwent urgent CABG surgery and the other angioplasty with stent deployment. With tears in their eyes they remarked, “We always knew Allah was there, somewhere up in the Heavens, but now we have seen He exists and resides within our hearts.”
An analytical comment and comparison with another barbarity
The daily Dawn published the news on November 6, 2014 that Kasur “Police arrested on Wednesday 50 villagers who were part of a mob which reportedly burnt alive a Christian couple in a brick kiln in Kot Radha Kishan for allegedly desecrating pages of the Holy Quran. The woman, mother of three, was pregnant…. Police and witnesses told Dawn that announcements had been made from mosques on Tuesday asking villagers to gather at the Yousaf brick kiln where 25 year old Shama and her husband Shahzad Masih worked as bonded labourers. Over 1,000 charged people from three villages took out the couple from a room (where they had taken shelter) after tearing apart its roof. The mob tortured the couple before putting them into the kiln’s furnace…. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif took notice of the incident and the latter constituted a three member committee comprising the secretary of minority affairs, chairman of CM’s inspection team and additional IG to investigate the matter…. Police registered a case against 660 villagers, including 60 who have been nominated in the FIR. Police also blocked all routes leading to Chak 59 and Klarkabad…. On Wednesday, police produced 43 of the arrested people before an anti-terrorism court which remanded four of them in police custody and sent 39 others to jail on judicial remand.”
This barbaric and cruel incident is not the first of its kind in Punjab or in Pakistan. The attitude of the state and the society to such condemnable incidents in fact encourages them. The state’s tolerance towards such persecution is part of a long term pattern of state complicity at all levels – executive, legislative and judicial. The riot in Gujranwala against Ahmadis only three months earlier and the state’s response to that will throw adequate light on the raison d’etre of this attack on Christians.
It is noteworthy that after the Gujranwala tragedy neither the Prime Minister nor even the Chief Minister made any statement to condemn the atrocity. No high level committee was formed to investigate the riot. No arrests were made although some of the mullas who incited the mob were named in the FIR. The police obliged the religious zealots by registration of a counter-FIR against the Ahmadi youth and arrested him; he has not been granted bail yet, although the charge of blasphemy has not been upheld by any enquiry. None of the affected has been facilitated to come back and resettle in his/her home.
Immediately after the riot in Gujranwala, mullas representing major politico-religious parties assembled in a meeting and got organized to defend the criminals involved in the riot. A few weeks later, they expressed satisfaction over the official reaction to the incident (in that none of the accused was arrested).
The daily The News reported the Prime Minister to have said after the Kot Radha Kishan. “A responsible state cannot tolerate mob rule and public lynching with impunity.” However he had said nothing over the Gujranwala riot. In fact, as described above, the state tolerated the mob action and the public killing, providing impunity. It is arguable that a firm and open administrative response to the Gujranwala incident would have deterred the mob leaders in Kot Radha Kishan.
Mulla Tahir Ashrafi has held the police responsible for failure to act in Kot Radha Kishan. However, he was not forthcoming candidly over the Gujranwala riot. Zahid-ur-Rashidi, another top cleric, opted to become patron of the Co-ordination Committee to defend the criminals who were responsible for the murder, loot and arson in Gujranwala. There are also press reports that Jamaat Islami leaders made a sympathy visit to Kot Radha Kishan. Three months earlier Mr. Bilal Qudrat Butt of Jamaat Islami volunteered to become a member of the maniacal Co-ordination Committee. If this is not, what else is hypocrisy? All these mullas are well aware of the Quranic injection: “…whosoever killed a person – unless it be for (killing) a person or for creating disorder in the land – it shall be as if he had killed all mankind and whoso saved a life, it shall be as if he had saved all mankind….” (5: 33/34)
The authorities in District Kasur are known for their permissive and slipshod attitude towards protection of members of vulnerable communities. Early last year, mullas mounted an intensive hate campaign against Ahmadis of Shamsabad. They attacked the president of the local Ahmadi community and injured him grievously. He was rendered unconscious and had to be hospitalized. They beat up members of his family. Consequently, the Ahmadis were virtually under house arrest and the police warned them to vacate their houses. Rana Ishaque of the ruling PML-N and the DPO extended their support to the attackers. The Ahmadi president and his family had to flee for safety. Their plight was reported to the well-known Mr. Najam Sethi, the then Chief Minister of the Punjab. He did little to rehabilitate the persecuted family. The religious thugs remained free and got the message that they could lynch the so-called minorities without risk. There were other noteworthy incidents in this district, but this one should suffice as a sample.
Last but not least, ‘liberal’ politician Mr. Imran Khan of PTI chose to issue no public statement on the Gujranwala incident. He was discreet enough to release only a sentence on the Twitter. The Kot Radha Kishan incident occurred on November 4; Imran addressed a big crowd in Rahim Yar Khan five days later and he said not a word about the shameful incident of Kot Radha Kishan. It took him another few days to figure out the electoral benefits and harms of a public statement, when he spared a few seconds for the lynched couple in his long speech in Nankana Sahib. And he called all the suppressed classes and minorities to attend his fateful rally in Islamabad on November 30!
The daily The Nation put the issue straight, bluntly and precisely in its editorial on October 29, 2014, divinating the tragedy of Kot Radha Kishan (extract):
Blaspheming Against Humanity
Perhaps the country’s courts, police, Parliament and the public at large should take responsibility for crimes committed against individuals in blasphemy cases. Judges who send both sane and mentally challenged individuals to jails despite insufficient evidence, police officials who negotiate with and protect zealots instead of taking them to task, parliamentarians whose lips remain sealed as tragedies unfold and the people who struggle to express outrage over crimes committed in the name of religion – everyone is responsible and no one is willing to acknowledge it. How we deal with such issues as a country is utterly disgraceful. And when someone actually dares to take a stand, like Salman Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti and Rashid Rehman – we shoot them dead and become heroes, aspiring more evil and carnage. The country’s elected Prime Minister will not side with the fallen nor will those who wish to oust him. Changing faces, it would appear, will not change the fate of victims.
No wonder, the Peshawar massacre occurred a few weeks later that stunned almost the entire population.
Murder in Rabwah of Dr Mehdi Ali Qamar, a Canadian-American cardiologist
Rabwah (Chenab Nagar); May 26, 2014: Ahmadiyya community central office in Pakistan issued the following press release (Translation):
Pakistan-born American doctor Mehdi Ali Qamar murdered in Rabwah. He had come here to serve people of country of his origin.
The incident is outcome of religious hatred and part of the ongoing anti-Ahmadiyya target-killing campaign: Spokesman Jamaat Ahmadiyya
Chenab Nagar (Rabwah): (PR) Ahmadi cardiac surgeon Dr. Mehdi Ali Qamar was shot dead this morning on May 26 in foreground of a Rabwah graveyard.
As per details, Pakistan-born U.S. doctor Mehdi Ali Qamar was out with his family walking to the graveyard for prayers when two unidentified men riding a motorcycle fired gunshots killing him on the spot. Eleven empties were recovered from the site. Dr. Qamar had come only two days before for temporary service at the famous Tahir Heart Institute, Rabwah. He was 50. Dr. Qamar was a charitable gentleman who had no vendetta with anyone. He left behind a wife and three sons.
The Ahmadiyya spokesman of the Pakistan Jamaat, Mr. Saleem Ud Din strongly condemned the murder. “Brutal murder of this doctor who served fellow human beings without discrimination is most painful,” he said. Murder of a doctor who had recently come to serve his compatriots is a crime against humanity. This hurtful incident is part of the on-going anti-Ahmadi killing campaign. “Anti-Ahmadi activists openly publish hate material that calls for murder of Ahmadis,” he said. In the past hateful leaflets declared that treatment in Tahir Heart Institute was haram (forbidden in Shariah). “In order to put a stop to murders in the name of faith it is essential to put a ban on hate-promoting literature, and those who issue fatwas legitimising murder of innocent people should be brought to justice,” he said. The spokesman demanded that authorities trace the killers of Dr. Mehdi Ali Qamar and punish them as per law. END
The attitude of the police was not commendable. Rather than pursuing and apprehending the criminals involved in immediate aftermath of the incident they preferred to look for some easy answer. The Asian Human Rights Commission made it part of the title of their Case Report:
Pakistan: An Ahmadi humanitarian activist is shot dead – the police show no sign in investigating the case. M AHRC-UAC-079-2014
Earlier, a Khatme Nabuwwat group in nearby Sargodha had issued the following hateful leaflet (shown here partly) against the Tahir Heart Institute Rabwah where Dr Qamar had come to work:
Fatwa: All schools of Muslim Ulama (sic) have given the edict that Mirzais (Ahmadis) are Kafir (infidels) and Zindique (apostates) for their beliefs and worship. All relationships with them, social, business, familial and friendships are haram (forbidden in Sharia). Any Muslim who maintains any relationship with these people is a transgressor, sinner and hell-bound. One who considers them to be Muslim, is himself a Kafir (infidel).
Note: In Chenab Nagar, Qadianis have a famous hospital, (Tahir Heart Centre); visiting this hospital for medical advice or treatment is Haram (forbidden) and a gunahe kabeerah
Shubban Khatme Nabuwwat, Sargodha Pakistan 0300-9606593; 0321-6024664; 0300-8651074; 0301-6729986
It is relevant to mention that the administration and the police took no notice of this vile hateful propaganda.
This murder received attention of major media houses all over the world. More than 30 news sources reported the incident. A few headlines are placed below:
U.S. Doctor Is Killed by Gunman in Pakistan.
New York Times on May 26, 2014 on nytms/1mtGZAO
Ahmadi cardiologist shot dead in Rabwah. Dr Mehdi arrived Pakistan a few days ago on mission to serve humanity. BBC May 26, 2014 at 12:19 GM
US doctor killed in Pakistan sectarian attack. Volunteer cardiologist Mehdi Ali Qamar becomes victim of latest attack on country’s Ahmadiyya minority community. Al Jazeera
Pakistan: An Ahmadi humanitarian activist is shot dead
The police show no interest in investigatng the case
Asian Human Rights Commission urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-079-2014
Pakistan: depuis quand Rabwah est une ville sure pour les Ahmadis?
Le Huffington Post Posted as Pakistan 26.5.2014 14:29
American doctor shot dead in Pakistan in suspected sectarian attack
The guardian.com.UK edition 26 May 2014
Ahmadi doctor shot at Rabwah Newsweek. Posted May 26, 2014
Pickerington Cardiologist Murdered in Pakistan
nbc4.com by Associated Press Posted on May 26, 2014
Cold blooded murder of Dr Mehdi Ali: World charities’ condemnation
This terror attack is on a poor society: Dr Asif Rehman
The daily Mashriq; 28.5.2014
The New York Times in nytimes.com added the following comment in ‘Asia Pacific’ section on 14/05/27:
“It was the second year that Dr Qamar had volunteered at the Tahir Heart Institute, a hospital specializing in cardiac treatment that is run by the Ahmadi community and treats patients of all faiths. In recent months, religious extremists distributed pamphlets in the area warning Muslims against using the hospital.
“Visiting a doctor or receiving treatment in that hospital is forbidden in Islam and an unforgivable sin,” said one such pamphlet. Mr. Din said the police and other law enforcement agencies had failed to act against those orchestrating the campaign.”
Qasim Nauman of Dow Jones Company Inc. wrote an article on the incident and mentioned the following on http://online.wg.com/article/BT-CO-20140526-703394 html:
“Zohra Yusuf, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent campaigning group, said that every religious minority in Pakistan is persecuted, but the Ahmadiyya community faces the worst treatment. Several local-language newspapers publish anti-Ahmadi material but there is no action against them, she said.
“Shantanu Sinha, a cardiologist in Lancaster who worked with Dr Qamar for the past 10 years, described him as a religious person who gave generously to his local community in Ohio. Dr Qamar worked at a vein care center called Vanishing Veins Ohio and at a cardiology office known as Cardio Vascular Specialists near the local hospital.
“He was one of the most honest, ethical and not-a-bad-bone-in-his-body kind of person,” said Dr. Sinha, adding that Dr. Qamar returned to Pakistan to provide free cardiac care. “He was very giving.”
“An Ahmadiyya community’s spokesman, Saleem Ud Din said: Dr Qamar had arrived in Pakistan on Saturday for a week of volunteer work at the Tahir Heart Institute, a hospital run by the sect.
“Dr. Qamar regularly visited Pakistan, bringing with him medical equipment and supplies he collected in charity drives in the U.S,” said his childhood friend Sultan Mubashir. “Dr. Qamar wrote poetry in his spare time, and was planning to publish a collection of his poems,” Mr. Mubashir said.
“I was friends with him for 44 years and I can’t remember us having an argument, let alone a fight,” Mr. Mubashir said. “How can anyone want to kill him? Ninety percent of our patients at the hospital aren’t Ahmadis. He didn’t care about your faith, he just wanted to help.”
Dr Ali was more than a cardiologist. He was a philanthropist, a social worker, a poet and a calligraphist. He won many professional awards; he was rated one of the outstanding and eminent cardiologists and physicians in the US. It seems that in him, one of Pakistan’s finest sons opted to take up US nationality and serve Pakistanis after acquiring excellent education and expertise in the West, only to be shot dead by religious bigots in the land of his origin.
The prestigious Daily Times, Lahore published an editorial on May 27, 2014 with the title: We have let down the Ahmedi community. The full text of this editorial is here.
We have let down the Ahmedi community
Pakistan is being torn apart by one of the greatest evils known to man: a slow genocide instigated by hate and warped religious ideology. Ratcheting up our attacks against the typically docile Ahmedi community, the latest fatality comes from Chenab Nagar, Punjab, where a renowned heart surgeon, the 50-year-old Dr Mehdi Ali, was gunned down by ‘unknown’ assailants while visiting the cemetery containing graves of his family members. What was his crime? Being a visible part of the Ahmedi community. Dr Mehdi Ali was settled in the US and was on a volunteer visit to Chenab Nagar — also known as Rabwah, the traditional hometown of the Ahmedi community — to help heart patients at a local state-of-the-art hospital he had helped build. He leaves behind his wife and children, forever scarred by the truth: Pakistan is no place for good men.
We are now entering a very dark and fearful point in our history where man is murdered for his beliefs and blasphemy charges abound for every slight. Religious and sectarian rifts have become so deep that right and wrong, and the actual teachings of our peaceful religion have become blurred and meaningless. The hospital in Chenab Nagar, built by the Ahmedi community, is known to be well-equipped and leagues ahead of the government (and many private) hospitals across Pakistan. So much so that reports have indicated that some members of the clergy in the area, usually so hateful of the Ahmedi community, have sought treatment there for themselves and their families while pleading with the hospital’s doctors not to reveal their ‘sin’. Hypocrisy knows no bounds here it seems. This daylight murder of the good doctor comes only days after another Ahmedi was shot dead in a police station, again in Punjab. These attacks are becoming all too frequent and much more sinister. Where deviants would be satiated with death threats and having Ahmedis jailed for the gall to call their houses of worship mosques or greet each other with the typical Islamic greeting, they are now moving on to murder in almost every scenario.
There has to come a time when the government stops dragging its heels on this issue and starts taking affirmative action against this ‘religious’ cleansing. The Ahmedis, despite being declared by the state as non-Muslims, deserve the protection of the state and to have their rights as citizens fully protected. The culprits must be found and punished, not allowed to get away scot-free as they usually do. The blasphemy law, which is often used against the Ahmedi community in false cases, must be amended in the very least to offer safeguards against those who are falsely accused. We cannot just sit back while innocent people die because of a sick ideological mindset. The Ahmedis are hard working, peace-loving citizens; they deserve much better than this.
Almost a month later the daily Dawn published a story in its issue of June 23, 2014:
“US doctor killed in Pakistan remembered
“Groveport: A memorial service in central Ohio has honoured an American cardiologist shot and killed last month in Pakistan in front of his wife and toddler.
Police say two gunmen riding a motorcycle shot Mehdi Ali Qamar as his family left a cemetery after visiting relatives’ graves.
The 51 year old doctor was from the Ahmadi community.
About 100 relatives, friends and colleagues gathered on Saturday south of Columbus to remember Mr. Qamar, a resident of Pickerington.
Speakers at the memorial remembered Mr. Qamar as a man dedicated to serving humanity – AP.
The daily Jang published an op-ed by US-based Azim M Mian on June 11, 2014 on this subject. An extract (translation):
…Pak-American doctors, members of the New York chapter of APPNA held a protest demonstration in front of the Pakistan Consulate in NY. A representative delegation of the chapter led by its president Dr Pervez Iqbal arrived to present a memorandum to the Consul General who had been informed two days earlier of their intentions. However the Consul General and the Vice Consul did not bother to receive this Memorandum from these distinguished, honoured, educated Pakistani doctors but left it to a staff member to receive it. What impression will that leave with Pakistanis about the attitude of Pakistani officials appointed abroad to serve the overseas Pakistanis?
Ahmadi murdered for his faith
Karachi; February 8, 2014: Mr. Razi-ud-Din S/O Mr. Muhammad Hussain Mukhtar was shot dead by unidentified assailants at 2:30 p.m. in Orangi Town. He was 27 years old. He is survived by a widow, a daughter of two years and parents.
Mr. Din worked in a factory. He left for work at approximately 2:30 p.m. His wife and nephew were with him. He had not gone far when two men on motorcycles fired at him. One of the bullets hit his neck and damaged his windpipe. His nephew rushed home to inform others, while his wife took him to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. Despite best efforts of the doctors, he did not survive.
Mr. Saleem Ud Din, the spokesperson of Jama‘at Ahmadiyya, expressed grief at his killing. He said that last year seven Ahmadis had been killed on account of their faith, six of them in Karachi. He stated that in Orangi Town, three members of the Kiyani family were killed in sectarian attacks; Mr. Din was also related to the same family. He added that groups and organisations who associate themselves with Khatme Nabuwwat openly issue fatwas declaring Ahmadis ‘deserving death.’ Moreover, opponents of the Ahmadiyya Jama‘at regularly publish and distribute hate literature that incites people to boycott and even murder Ahmadis. However, authorities take no notice of this. As a result innocent Ahmadis continue to get killed. He urged the authorities to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice at the earliest.
Ahmadi youth killed
Rawalpindi; January 14, 2014: An Ahmadi youth, Arsalan Sarwar S/O Mr. Muhammad Sarwar, aged 17 was killed by unidentified religious bigots at about 1 a.m.
Sarwar was busy in decorating the street for the coming event of the 12 Rabiul Awwal, the Holy Prophet’s birthday. He and his companions saw a suspicious vehicle at the corner of the street. The men in the vehicle fired several shots at them when the youth tried to raise alarm to warn other people. One bullet hit Sarwar in his forehead, and he died in the hospital three hours later.
Murdered while in police custody
Sharaqpur, District Sheikhupura; May 16, 2014: Mr. Khalil Ahmad had been detained by the police on a fake blasphemy charge and was in police lock-up. A youth entered the police station and shot him dead. The following Press Release from the Ahmadiyya central office provides essential detail.
Ahmadi arrested under baseless allegation of blasphemy gunned down in police custody
Ahmadis who believe in all the Prophets could never think of blasphemy: Spokesman Jamaat Ahmadiyya
Chenab Nagar: (PR) Mr. Khalil Ahmad, an Ahmadi who was arrested on baseless allegation of blasphemy has been killed in police custody in police station Sharaqpur, District Sheikhupura. We strongly condemn this barbarous act. This murder in police custody raises questions. The perpetrators should be brought to justice after a sound inquiry. As per details, a few days ago, over a trivial conflict the miscreants incited the village folk on loudspeakers. Thereafter the police registered a case under PPCs 295-A, 337-2 and 427 against four Ahmadis – Ghulam Ahmad, Ihsan Ahmad, Mubashir Ahmad and Mr. Khalil Ahmad. They arrested Mr. Khalil Ahmad.
A court accepted plea for bail of the three accused while Mr. Khalil Ahmad remained in the custody of the police in Police Station Sharaqpur. On Friday, one Saleem Ahmad entered the police station and shot dead Mr. Khalil Ahmad who was under detention. The police arrested the killer. Mr. Khalil Ahmad was 65 years old. He left behind a widow, two sons and two daughters.
Mr. Saleem Ud Din the spokesman of Jamaat Ahmadiyya expressed great grief over the incident and condemned it squarely. Blasphemy laws have become a tool with religious extremists who use them extensively to settle personal scores, he said. Had an impartial inquiry been held prior to registration of the case, it would have become clear that people were being agitated over a baseless petty squabble. Subsequent to the detention of the accused, it was the responsibility of the police to protect him; they were careless, and a precious life was lost, Mr. Saleem Ud Din said.
The Jamaat Ahmadiyya spokesman demanded an impartial inquiry in this incident of murder in police custody. The killer and the planners of this incident should be punished severely in accordance with law, he said. END
The killer entered the police station after permission, went to the cell of his target and fired a pistol shot at him from close quarters. The bullet hit Ahmad in the neck and went out from the other side. He died on the spot.
Sharaqpur is only 35 miles north-west of the Punjab capital.
The Punjab Police has a reputation of finding a culprit if they apply themselves to it. The killer youth came from a madrassah run by a banned outfit. It should not be difficult to find out his sponsors and motivators. They are the ones who hold the key to murders such as this one and assassinations of people like Governor Taseer, Minister Bhatti and Advocate Rashid Rehman.
The authorities should not miss this opportunity to bring such criminals to justice, as therein lies the peace of the society and the stability of the state.
Follow up: Two days later the sponsors of the murder sent approximately 20 youth to the residence of the deceased where a number of Ahmadis had gathered for offering condolences to the bereaved family. These urchins were riding two trucks, motor cycles and rickshaws. They had come as show of force and defiance. Ahmadis dispersed to avoid a confrontation. However, the police arrived, rounded up the miscreants and took some action.
Ahmadi killed for his faith – in Nawabshah, Sindh again
Rabwah: The Ahmadiyya central office issued the following press release on July 17, 2014:
A young Ahmadi Imtiaz Ahmad killed because of religious hatred in Benazirabad (Nawabshah)
His uncle Seth Mohammad Yousaf was also shot dead in 2008 just because of his faith: Spokesman Jama‘at Ahmadiyya
Chenab Nagar: (PR) A young Ahmadi Imtiaz Ahmad was killed because of religious hatred in Benazirabad (Nawabshah) on 13 July 2014 at around 4.30 p.m. in busy Trunk Bazaar. Imtiaz Ahmad owned a furniture shop and was standing in front of it when unknown assailants opened fire at him and the bullets pierced through his head and exited through the other side.
His uncle Seth Mohammad Yousaf was also shot dead in 2008 after a TV program aired by Geo News anchor Aamir Liaqat Hussain that instigated hatred. Seth Mohammad Yousaf was district Amir of Nawabshah at the time of his death. After the attack on Seth Mohammad Yousaf attacks on Ahmadis in the area increased manifolds.
Imtiaz Ahmad left behind ailing parents, wife and three sons. His dead body will be brought to Rabwah for burial.
The spokesman of Jama‘at Ahmadiyya in Pakistan Saleem Ud Din expressed his condolence on the sad incident and pointed out that the hatred and persecution of Ahmadis is increasing day by day and so far during just past year 7 Ahmadis have been killed because of their faith in Pakistan. Out of these 7, six Ahmadis were killed in Sindh. Saleem Ud Din said that during last few years five Ahmadis have been killed only in Nawabshah, Sindh. After the controversial and discriminative laws promulgated in 1984, 9 Ahmadis have been killed and not a single culprit has been brought to justice ever. This clearly shows how little the government and authorities are concerned about the safety and security of Ahmadis. The hate filled material is openly published and distributed, wall-chalking is openly visible and picture of it could easily be tracked down on social media.
Saleem Ud Din urged the authorities to clamp down on hate material and show some seriousness in tackling this issue and ensure security and safety of Ahmadis in Pakistan.
An Ahmadi medical practitioner Mubashar Ahmad Khosa killed in his clinic in Mirpur Khas, Sindh
Hate material declaring Ahmadis ‘worthy of death’ is distributed during conferences held in the name of Khatme Nabuwwat
Rabwah; September 23, 2014: Ahmadiyya central office issued the following press release:
Chenab Nagar (PR): Yesterday, 22 September 2014, Mubashar Ahmad Khosa, a well-known Ahmadi medical practitioner was killed by two unknown assailants in Mirpur Khas, Sindh. He was attending to patients at his clinic when two unknown assailants came in and fired at him repeatedly before fleeing on a motorbike. Mubashar Ahmad was rushed to hospital but succumbed to his injuries on the way. He was 50 years old. He is survived by a wife, two sons and two daughters. His remains will be brought to Rabwah for burial.
Expressing his grief at this tragic murder, the spokesperson of Jamaat Ahmadiyya, Mr. Saleem Ud Din said that every year in the month of September conferences in the name of Khatme Nabuwwat are convened throughout the country, during which hate material declaring Ahmadis to be worthy of death is regularly distributed. Despite this the authorities continue to turn a blind eye to such inciteful activities against Pakistan’s Ahmadi population. In 2008, another Ahmadi doctor, Abdul Mannan Siddiqi was also assassinated in September in a targeted attack. His murderers have still not been brought to justice. The Jamaat, he said, finds sanctuary in God alone in the face of these injustices. Addressing Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party which rules in the province, he asked how much longer Ahmadis have to endure such persecution in the name of religion. He demanded that the assailants be pursued with full force of the law and tried for their crimes.
Ahmadi murdered in cantonment town
Kamra, District Attock: An Ahmadi, Mr. Latif Aalam Butt was shot dead in Kamra, District Attock on October 15, 2014. Ahmadiyya head office issued a press release which is reproduced below:
A well-known Ahmadi Latif Aalam Butt killed outside his house in Kamra, District Attock, Punjab
This murder is part of a continuing cycle of religiously motivated attacks against Ahmadis
Chenab Nagar (PR) Yesterday, 15 October 2014, Latif Aalam Butt, a well-known Ahmadi was killed outside his house in Kamra, District Attock. He was returning home from his stationery shop, when unknown assailants repeatedly fired at him. He died at the scene. He had owned the shop since his retirement from the Pakistan Air Force. He was 62 years old. He is survived by a wife, four sons and a daughter. He was a very kind, loving and pious man who harboured no enmity against anyone. His remains will be brought to Rabwah where they will be laid to rest.
Saleem ud Din, the spokesperson of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, expressed great grief and sadness at the murder. He said that the incident represented a continuation of religiously motivated violence against Ahmadis. Ahmadis are constantly on the receiving end of vicious threats and edicts of death. They are told that unless they turn away from their beliefs they will face persecution. He added that Ahmadis would not be intimidated by such cowardly attacks. He said, “We believe in a Supreme Being who is our helper and He himself will deal with these transgressors.” He added that in order to stop such incidents, the government should ban hate material against Ahmadis and take measures against those who distribute it. He demanded the arrest of those responsible for this crime so that they could swiftly be brought to justice. He also said that hundreds of Ahmadis are killed for their faith yet no one is ever charged for their murder which suggests a grievous degree of negligence on the part of the authorities.
To-date 246 Ahmadis have been killed for their faith since the promulgation of the anti-Ahmadi Ordinance XX. The authorities have taken no action to put a stop to such murders, at their source. Their insensitivity to such sectarian crimes has resulted in a more wide-spread sectarian conflict all over Pakistan.
An Ahmadi shot dead after a hostile and malicious programme on GEO TV and a sectarian rally
Rabwah; December 27, 2014: Ahmadiyya central office issued the following press release on the event.
Ahmadis in Gujranwala once again target of hate mongers. Ahmadi youth becomes latest victim.
A conference held a few days ago instigated participants to take actions against Ahmadis.
On 22 December 2014 participants in Geo TV’s morning show instigated hatred against Ahmadis, which should not be ignored.
Hate speech and instigation to violence is taking lives of Ahmadis in Pakistan: Spokesman Jamaat Ahmadiyya
Chenab Nagar (PR): Today early in the morning soon after Fajar prayers an Ahmadi Luqman Shahzad was murdered while he was on his way from home to his farm.
This is the latest incident of violence in Gujranwala where a few days ago a conference was organised, and the speakers as usual used bad language against Ahmadis and instigated participants to take strong actions against them.
The spokesperson of Jamaat Ahmadiyya Pakistan Saleem Ud Din said, “instigation to hatred and violence against Ahmadis is normal and acceptable in Pakistan where pamphlets, brochures, street banners openly instigate hatred and violence against Ahmadis.”
Saleem Ud Din further added that “A national TV channel Geo on 22 December had participants calling Ahmadis enemies of Pakistan who should be taken to task, without any fear of its consequences on the lives of innocent Ahmadis. Last time in 2008 the same channel with the same host aired a programme that called for death to Ahmadis, and two prominent Ahmadis were shot dead in next two days of the programme.”
Saleem Ud Din asked if there was no law in this country that keeps a check on these hate mongers and anchors who spew hatred or give space to hate mongers openly.
It is high time that Pakistani government and law enforcement institutions take notice of this open hatred and instigation to violence and bring the culprits to book. Nobody should be allowed to spew venom against anyone on the basis of religion; only this way we can bring this menace of terrorism to end, he said.###
Asian Human Rights Commission rightly took note of a sectarian rally that had taken place in the locality a few days earlier. In its statement AHRC-215-2014 issued on December 29, 2014 it said, “The murder in cold blood was the result of an anti-Ahmadiyya Conference that was held in Gujranwala where instigation and incitement to kill Ahmadis was the prime message of the mullas. The hate mongers were allowed to organize the conference by the government, given the current law and order situation, speaks volumes about the state’s resolve to bring stability to Pakistan.”
The daily The Nation wrote a readable editorial on December 29, on this murder; it is produced here.
December 29, 2014
After the massacre in Peshawar on Dec. 16th, which left over a hundred schoolchildren dead, the country’s foremost analysts have painstakingly tried to pinpoint both historical and recent reasons that led to the carnage. It is a complicated, rather convoluted exercise with a great web of interconnected triggers. And though there is rarely a single reason for such tragedies, there are some that can be narrowed down. The fatal shooting of a young Ahmadi man Luqman Ahad Shehzad is one such incident.
In 1974, the Constitution was amended to declare Ahmadis as non-Muslim. Going a step further, it became a crime for Ahmadis to pose as Muslim or “offend” a Muslim’s feelings. Since then, there have been scores of incidents of violence against Ahmadis, with attacks in Ahmadi mosques in May 2010 alone leading to 86 deaths. This year, 11 Ahmadis have been brutally killed for the crime of being Ahmadi alone, notably in July, by a mob that took the lives of two children and a woman.
Perhaps what is even worse than the amendment to the ’74 Constitution are platforms that allow for its constant publicity. As though it wasn’t bad enough that countless Muslim clerics across the breadth of the country get to scream their violent opinions from their pulpits, now they get prime-time slots on popular television shows hosted by a particular brand of extremist showman.
In 2008, a show hosted by Aamir Liaqat featured Muslim scholars who declared Ahmadis to be Wajib-ul-Qatl, or deserving of murder. Within a day of the show being aired, two Ahmadis were murdered; one of them a physician and the other a community leader. Aamir Liaqat took no responsibility for the attack, and as the public is wont to do, the incident was soon forgotten; buried beneath a tirade of other controversies and a ridiculous brand of entertainment almost exclusive to Pakistan. Last Monday, this same man hosted a show featuring a notable Muslim cleric Syed Arif Shah Owaisi who strongly denounced Ahmadis and accused the Ahmadi community of blaspheming against the Prophet (pbuh) of Islam. Five days later, Luqman Shehzad, a leader of the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya (JA) was shot in the back of the head. It is impossible not to draw a correlation for the second time.
Why are these violence preaching clerics allowed on television at all? Why are show-hosts who stand so exposed one controversy after another, not held accountable for the tragedies that unfold in the name of their entertaining? Why are they granted dignity and treated with respect and position? Who edits these shows, and why has there been no apology for this editorial disaster? The year ends with yet another tragedy, because as we fight a war against terrorism on all physical fronts, we cannot recognise the place where it truly roosts.
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