Religious Persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
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Home Human Rights Commission of Pakistan 2006
Excerpts from “State of Human Rights in 2006”


The final four months of 2005 and the year 2006 – the period this report covers— found much of the country caught in a state of bitter internal strife.

Pro-Taliban forces were permitted to exert their own writ over parts of the NWFP, where girls’ schools where forcibly shut down, video and music shops bombed and individuals threatened for in any way opposing enforced orthodoxy. Illegal FM radio stations run by clerics incited gangs to inflict violence on each other and terrorise people in many towns and villages where gang warfare broke out. Scores were killed as a consequence of such clashes.

The fact that organizations supporting ‘jihad’ (holy war) were still functioning was evidenced in the wake of the disastrous earthquake of October 8, 2005, which, according to official figures, claimed at least 73,000 lives. Many others were severely injured and millions lost their homes and lands.

Amidst growing anarchy and turbulence, some more rational notes were struck. In a judgement late in 2006, the Lahore High Court (LHC) held that the defilation of the Holy Quran was a crime against State, rather than against any individual, and as such a complaint could be brought only by the state. This promised relief in a situation where accusations of blasphemy, often as an outcome of petty rivalry, were increasingly common.

NOTE: This report covers the period from October 2005 to December 15, 2006. As far as possible, figures for 2006 and 2005 have been provided separately. HRCP’s annual report will from 2007 on cover the calendar year. ……

Kamila Hyat


Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
The climate of intolerance remained unchanged. Violent riots shook major cities after the publication in a Danish newspaper of cartoons perceived by Muslims as blasphemous.
Ahmadis remained effectively barred from voting.
There was an increase in the incidents of non-Muslim girls’ forced conversion to Islam.
The LHC ruled that defiling of the Holy Quran was a crime against the State rather than an individual and hence prosecution should be possible only on a complaint by the State.

Rule of Law
Administration of justice

Blasphemy clause interpreted

A Lahore High Court ruling that in case of disrespect to the Holy Quran a complaint could only be filed by a government or an authorized officer promised considerable relief for those who might be accused of this offence. The practice hitherto has been that whenever any party alleges desecration of the Quran, an FIR is promptly registered and the person accused of the crime is arrested and thrown in prison.

The court ruling came while it was examining the bail application of one Mohammad Yousaf who had been arrested under sec 295-A of the PPC and had already spent five months in Jail.

The case against him had been registered by an SHO who thought the allegation against the accused (that he had made remarks against the Holy Quran), made by a village prayer-leader, warranted his trial under one of the blasphemy provisions.

After a magistrate had declined to give him bail the accused came to the LHC for relief.

One of the grounds for bail advanced by his counsel was that he had a property dispute with the complainant’s party and they had initiated litigation against each other.

While allowing the bail plea the court declared that a bare reading of sec 295-A of the PPC with sec 196 of the CrPC was enough to show that an offence under sec 295A was not an offence against an individual, it was an offence against the state. As such courts should take cognizance of such matters only when the federal or a provincial government, or an officer authorized by them, granted the police permission to register a case.

Cases on religious grounds

An Ahmedi, Mansoor Ahmad from Hafizabad, was sentenced to life imprisonment for burning the Holy Quran and five new cases on religious grounds were registered during the last quarter of 2005 (that is, in addition to those covered in the State of Human Rights 2005). …

In the seven new cases registered against members of the Ahmediya community 21 people (one of them a woman) were named as accused: The charges in most cases included violation of the Ahmedi-specific provisions added to the Penal Code by Gen. Ziaul Haq. Four of these cases were registered in Punjab and three in Sindh.

The details of these new cases follow:

Cases against Ahmadis
Name /s
Arrested or
M. Latif Butt
Chenab Nagar, Punjab
Mirza Masroor Ahmad
Mirza Khalil Ahmad
Khurshid Ahmad
Sultan Ahmad Dogar
Mst Umatur Rashid
Tando Adam, Sindh
295/A,B,C, 298/C
Printed an article in a magazine
Maula Buksh
M. Akbar
Haji Khas Kheli
Dr. Mannan Siddique
Mirpur Khas, Sindh
298/C 341/34
Not arrested
Asghar Ali
Naeem Akram
Prof Iftikhar Ahmad
Sialkot, Punjab
Zaheer Ahmad
Waqar Ahmad
Fayaz Ahmad
Sialkot, Punjab
Burnt the pages of Holy Quran
Sultan Dogar
Agha Saifullah
295/B 298/C
M. Tariq
Tando Adam, Sindh
Hurt religious feelings by scratching
the stickers bearing
anti-Ahmedia slogans in a bus.

Fundamental freedoms
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

… It is the will of the people of Pakistan to establish an order … wherein shall be guaranteed fundamental rights, including equality of status, of opportunity and before law, social, economic and political justice, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship and association, subject to law and public morality

Constitution of Pakistan

Subject to law, public order and morality (a) every citizen shall have the right to profess, practise and propagate his religion; and (b) every religious denomination and every sect thereof shall have the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions.

Article 20

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 1

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 18

No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice.

No one shall be subject to discrimination by any state, institution, group of persons, or person on the grounds of religion or other belief.

UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of
Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief

Articles 1(2) and 2(1)

There was no improvement in the environment of intolerance in the country despite official claims to the contrary.

Violence perpetrated on the grounds of religion increasingly took the form of attacks on minority Muslim sects, particularly the Shias. Hostility towards non-Muslim citizens continued, with discrimination imposed by State and the consistent failure to act against those guilty of carrying out acts of violence or discrimination encouraging such attitudes.

The US State Department in its annual report on international religious freedoms released in September 2006 said that that despite some attempts, the government failed to protect the rights of religious minorities. The report noted discriminatory legislation and a failure to take action against societal forces hostile to those who practised a faith other than Islam fostered religious intolerance and acts of violence and intimidation against religious minorities

Discrimination by State

The gravest act of discrimination by the State against a specific group took the form of laws that barred Ahmadis from freely practising their faith, from calling themselves Muslim and from preaching their faith.

Early in 2006, the Punjab Housing and Town Planning Agency, a public sector body, advertised the auction of plots for low-income earners in newspapers in the Jhang area. A note in the auction notice barred Ahmadis from participating in the bidding. An affadavit as to religious belief was handed out at the bidding, and anyone taking part required to sign it. The notice banning Ahmadis from buying land had also been pasted on walls in Chiniot and Rabwah (renamed Chenabnagar by the Punjab government).

Ahmadi shops were attacked in Rahimyar Khan in February, during protests against cartoons perceived by most Muslims as blasphemous, which had been published in a Danish newspaper.

In April, local authorities in Kasur dug up the grave of an Ahmadi girl, Nadia Hanif, 17, buried in a Muslim graveyard, ten days after her death and moved her body to an Ahmadi cemetery under pressure from local extremist elements.

Ahmadis were for all practical purposes barred from voting. The listing of the community on a separate voting list, which effectively categorized them as non-Muslims, led Ahmadis to boycott local government polls held at the end of 2005. While the government maintained a joint electorate had been restored, in practice separate lists were usually maintained for non-Muslims. In some cases, separate polling stations were allotted to them, thus largely defeating the purpose of a joint electorate by keeping minorities marginalized.

The State promoted violence by failing to act against those attacking non-Muslims or their properties [See sections on Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus.]

The voices that as usual prevailed.Blasphemy laws, which provided the death penalty for defiling the name of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and life imprisonment for defiling, damaging or desecrating the Holy Quran, were used against non-Muslims – although the number of instances in which they were abused to settle petty scores with other Muslims had risen sharply over the past years.

There were reports of a worsening in the overall situation for minority communities in the NWFP, where the MMA-led government continued its policies of enforcing so-called Islamic law. Taliban-backed extremist groups gained ground in some parts of the NWFP and posed an increased threat to non-Muslims living in these areas. The central government made no attempt to protect these citizens.

Members of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) kept up their demand for increased representation for all religious minorities in the Senate.

While the interior ministry, in March 2006, ordered action against publishers of hate material, it was observed that inflammatory pamphlets, CDs and other material remained in circulation — most notably in the NWFP.

The State did not act against those attacking places of religious worship belonging to non-Muslims, with the failure to take punitive measures only adding to the sense of insecurity faced by minorities.

Growth of intolerance and curbs on religious freedoms

The growth of intolerance in society was reflected by the angry protests in February 2006, over the publication of cartoons perceived as blasphemous, published in a Danish newspaper. While the protests had political and social dimensions, they also reflected an decrease in levels of tolerance.

In November 2006, students of the Islamia University Bahawalpur and other colleges staged a protest against a book, with allegedly blasphemous content, kept at the central library of the institution. The objectionable book was seized by the University administration.

Levels of intolerance were demonstrated by incidents such as an attack on two elderly women in Multan, who had been spotted eating during the Muslim month of fasting, Ramazan, in October 2006.

It was increasingly difficult for persons belonging to faiths other than Islam to gain admission in educational institutions, obtain jobs or attain promotion. …

Sectarian violence

Some of the worst acts of intolerance took the form of sectarian attacks. At least 110 people were killed between September 2005 and December 2006 in such violence, including attacks on processions, suicide blasts and shootings. The worst incidents took place early in 2006 in Hangu and Karachi.


The Ahmadis faced the most severe discrimination among minority communities in the country, both on the basis of the laws in place against them and social attitudes.

Anti-Ahmadi laws specifically prohibited Ahmadis from calling themselves Muslims or posing as Muslims, from referring to their faith as Islam, from preaching or propagating their faith, from inviting others to accept the Ahmadi faith and from injuring the religious feelings of Muslims. The interpretation of these draconian restrictions meant that, as in previous years, Ahmadis faced penalty for beginning letters with traditional words from the Holy Quran, from displaying verses in their shops or for a range of other actions. Groups opposed to Ahmadis, mainly the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwat (TNKN), were able to operate with apparent impunity and were able to hold public meetings in Rabwah (re-named Chenabnagar by the Punjab government). Ahmadis, who constituted the vast majority of the population in the town, were prevented from holding public gatherings.

Some of the many acts of violence against Ahmadis during the reporting period were as follows:

On May 7, 2006, Dr Mujib-ur-Rahman Pasha, 43, was murdered, just after 9.00pm at night outside his clinic in Sanghar, Sindh, by an armed assailant who had covered his face and was on a motorcycle. The doctor was the son of Pir Fazlur Rahman, a former Ahmadi community leader in Sanghar. There were no reports regarding the arrest of the killer.
In June 2006, police arrested seven Ahmadis from a village near Sialkot for their alleged involvement in the burning of the Holy Quran at the local Ahmadi place of worship in the village. After reports regarding the incident were spread with obviously mischievous intent at a fair taking place in the area, an infuriated mob attacked the property of Ahmadis in the village. Ten houses, several shops and a tractor were burnt, and three Ahmadis — Nawaz, Waqar and Zaheer — were severely beaten up. The local Ahmadi place of worship was also burnt and ten Ahmadi families were forced to flee the area. According to a spokesperson for the community, the incident was triggered by the burning of old magazines and records. Ahmadi leaders pointed out the police failure to extend protection had aggravated the situation. (Ahmadis hold the Holy Quran to be Divine revelation, as do Muslims, and cannot poissibly desecrate it).
During the same month, a dozen Ahmadi families from a village in Daska were forced to flee after a mob attacked their homes, claiming a Holy Quran had been desecrated. An HRCP team which carried out a fact-finding in July found police had initially promised protection as tensions rose, but then failed to offer it. Police also told Ahmadis not to return to the village. Some of the families were not able to go back even as 2006 closed.
In July, 2006, police registered a criminal case against four Ahmadis under anti-Ahmadi laws for preaching in a village near Sialkot. The four accused included Professor Iftikhar Ahmad, the president of the local Ahmadi community.
A few days later, in Dera Ghazi Khan, a police sub-inspector accompanied by some constables raided the city’s Ahmadi mosque, noted the names of those present and collected a number of issues of the local Ahmadi newspaper. He then booked several of those present in a case for violating anti-Ahmadi laws. The community said the charges were baseless.
Police raided the office of an Ahmadi newspaper, Al-Fazal, in Rabwah in September 2006, arrested the printer and a journalist and charged them with a range of offences under the Anti Terrorism Act (ATA) and anti-Ahmadi laws and sealed the premises. The journalist, Abdul Sattar Khan, was later released. Police claimed the raid was carried out as part of a crackdown on literature promoting hatred and stated the newspaper was violating the law by describing Ahmadis as Muslims. Spokespersons for the Ahmadi community denied the charges and condemned the attack on a newspaper that had been established in 1911, almost a century ago.

Victims of blasphemy laws

The abuse of the country’s blasphemy laws (comprising sections 295 B, C and 298-A, B, C of the Pakistan Penal Code), continued, with the provisions of Section 295-C frequently used to victimize persons to settle personal scores or disputes over property, finances or other matters. Over the past five years, there was an increase in the number of Muslims facing accusations of blasphemy.

A minor change made in October 2004 in the administration of blasphemy cases, stating each case needed to be investigated by police before anyone was booked, made no difference on the ground.

According to the National Commission for Peace and Justice (NCPJ), an NGO engaged in monitoring the rights situation of Christians in the country, there were 746 cases of alleged blasphemy in 2005. 107 persons were accused of committing blasphemy. According to the NCJP report, published in March 2006, 55 percent of the people accused in 2005 under the country’s blasphemy laws were Muslim, 18 percent Ahmadi, nine percent Christian and six percent Hindu. The figures showed that members of minority communities were disproportionately targetted, given that they made up only five percent or less of the overall population.

There was however some hope of an improvement in the situation. In a ruling delivered in November 2006, the Lahore High Court, while hearing the case of a man from a village near Sialkot accused of blasphemy, said that the defilement of the Holy Quran was an offence not against an individual but against the State. Consequently, no case could be registered by the police against an individual accused of the offence unless the federal or a provincial government was the complainant. The judgement was significant given that most blasphemy cases involved accusations of desecration of the Holy Quran.

Despite the ruling, new cases of blasphemy continued to be brought against people for defiling the Holy Quran, on the complaints of individuals. ……

Delays in reaching a decision in such cases meant persons accused of blasphemy could remain under-trial, in jail, for years. They frequently faced considerable peril.


The recent LHC ruling regarding registration of blasphemy cases must be implemented in full. The ruling may also be ratified by the Supreme Court, so that it is followed in all provinces.
The joint electorate should be made truly joint in all respects, with no exceptions whatsoever and no community excluded.
Incitement to violence by any person or group must lead to penalty under existing laws. If necessary, the relevant laws may be strengthened.
Religious tolerance should be taught as a subject at all police schools.
Sermons in mosques, especially Friday sermons, should be delivered from a written text, a copy of which should be submitted to the designated / relevant authority for ensuring that hatred against other sects or religions is not preached. Any deviation from the text should be dealt with firmly to ensure religious harmony. This practice has been followed in other Islamic countries.

Political participation

The state shall encourage local government institutions composed of elected representatives of the areas concerned and within such institutions special representation will be given to peasants, workers and women.

Constitution of Pakistan
Article 32

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 1

Local government elections


Despite a restoration of the joint electorate, in some cases separate polling booths for Muslim and non-Muslim voters were retained in Lahore. The Ahmadis continued to be denied a joint electorate, whereas non-Muslim candidates in many cases were allotted degrading symbols such as a dog, rat or snake. [See also Chapter on Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion],


Joint electorate must be restored for all citizens at all levels.