PAKISTAN: Court sentences Ahmadis to death

Three Ahmadis were sentenced to death on blasphemy charges by the Islamabad court of sessions on 12 October 2017, for allegedly tearing down a poster outside their place of worship. Incidentally, the sentence came within hours of a hate speech delivered on the floors of the National Assembly, by the son-in-law of deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who stated that Ahmadis are a threat to Pakistan’s national ideology.

The three men, Mubashar Ahmad, Ghulam Ahmad and Ehsaan Ahmad, together with Khaleel Ahmed, tore down posters outside the Ahmadi mosque on 11 May 2014, calling on the people of Bhoiwaal village to kill Ahmadis and ostracise them. A case no. 219/14 was registered against them at the Sharkpur police station, District Sheikhupura under Section 295 A of the Pakistan Penal Code, which provides punishment for “Deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feeling of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs”.

Five days later, on May16, local resident Mr. Muhammad Saleem entered the police station and shot dead Khaleel Ahmad. The other three accused were then shifted to a jail in Sheikhupura.

Three years later, the court added Section 295 C (Use of derogatory remarks in respect of the prophet) during the hearing, and announced death sentences for all three Ahmadis. Moreover, the Court fined them two hundred thousand Rupees each. In case of non-payment they would receive six month jail sentences.

According to the 1995 census, Ahmadis make up a mere 0.25 percent of Pakistan’s population. And yet, the State fears their presence and deems their existence a threat to national ideology. The State has appointed its ‘Counter Terrorism Force’ to terrorize the hapless community and to restrain them from professing their religion.

While politicians and civil servants use official platforms to spew hatred against the beleaguered community, the Pakistan government continues to deny its persecution of the Ahmadis to the international community. In a conference held recently at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.S., Mr. Aizaz Chaudhry, vehemently denied any ‘state sponsored’ persecution of the Ahmadiyya minority, stating, “I do not agree with you that there is State sponsorship of such activity. Far from that, all citizens of Pakistan are equal in their rights under the Constitution.”
Contrary to Mr. Chaudhry’s statement of equality, the promulgation of the anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance has led to the demolishing of 27 Ahmadiyya mosques, while 33 mosques have been sealed off. A further 21 Ahmadiyya mosques have been set on fire or damaged, and 17 mosques have been forcibly occupied.

Other tactics used to persecute and harass the community include transforming Ahmadi towns. For instance, the Punjab Provincial Assembly in 1999 changed the name of Rabwah town to Chenab Nagar, and allocated hundreds of housing projects to non-Ahmadi settlers, to transform the town and drive away the Ahmadis.

As if social, economic, legal and religious persecution was not enough, the masses have been instigated to kill Ahmadis as a service to religion. These spiteful murderers are then celebrated as heroes. Many Ahmadis accused of blasphemy have been killed in jail by police officers. Not a single person responsible was ever caught or punished. In 2008, during a live broadcast, religious scholar Dr. Amir Liaquat encouraged his audience to kill the infidels as a service to Islam. Two Ahmadis were gunned down within hours of the broadcast.

According to records kept by the Ahmadiyya community since 1984, when blasphemy laws were amended to include several Ahmadi-specific clauses, more than 250 Ahmadis have been killed. Pakistan continues to deny Ahmadi Muslims the basic right to self-identity. The notorious and draconian second amendment in the Constitution, added to appease the orthodox clergy, is the only kind in constitutional history, whereby a group of people lost their rights to even exist. With its passage, Pakistan became the first and only country to judge the faith of its citizens. In order to be eligible for Pakistan’s ‘Muslim’ passport, citizens are required to condemn the Ahmadis.

Furthermore, Ordinance XX, of Pakistan’s Penal Code criminalizes the daily lives of Ahmadis for ‘posing as Muslims’. Thousands of Ahmadis have hence been jailed for the ‘crimes’ of praying, saying the salaam (Muslim greeting), saying the Kalima (Islamic creed), reading the Quran, and so forth.

According to a statement by Law Minister Mr. Rana Sanaullah, “It is our duty to protect minorities of the country, but for the Ahmadis, they will first have to stop claiming to be Muslims. There is no other way around it.”

Denied the freedom of speech, of religion, of assembly, and virtually every single right guaranteed under the Constitution, the Ahmadiyyas find no redressal from any pillar of the state. With no right to political representation either, the community is virtually voiceless.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has long demanded that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws be abolished. These laws were made and amended during the military regime of General Ziaul Haq, with the aim of spreading bigotry and religious hatred among the different Islamic sects. 
The AHRC also advocates legislators to review the Sections 295 C, 298 B with all sub-classes and 298 C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). These sections of the PPC are the main sources instigating fundamentalists to take the law into their own hands and annihilate religious opponents. The government should ensure that all laws are in line with Pakistan’s constitutional and international human rights obligations.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-136-2017
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Administration of justice, Death penalty, Judicial system, Prosecution system, Rule of law,