Fatal attack on a house of Ahmadi in Murh Balochan, district Nankana Sahib. An Ahmadi Dr Tahir Ahmed age 31 died as a result while his father is in critical condition fighting for his life. Two other members of the same family who gathered for prayer are injured.
Targeted attacks on Ahmadis have been increased, but still, no strict actions have even been taken against the perpetrators.
There have been several targeted killings of Ahmadi’s in Pakistan over the past 4 months. Why are religious minorities particularly vulnerable to blasphemy laws and violence in Pakistan? Find out in this week’s episode of USCIRF Spotlight.
According to local reports, two Christians, a mother and son, were killed in an incident of religious hatred in a village located in the Gujranwala district of Pakistan.
On Monday, November 9, Yasmeen Masih and her son, Usman, were shot dead by Hassan Shakoor, their Muslim neighbor. According to Sardar Masih, a relative of the deceased, the Christians were killed over a dispute that turned religious.
Weeks prior to the killings, Shakoor’s mother, Ishrat, blocked the sewer line coming from the Christians’ home. According to Sardar, the Muslim family did not like waste water flowing by their home from the house of an ‘untouchable’.
Due to widespread religious discrimination in Pakistan, Christians are often associated with untouchability. Offensive terms, like choora, are used by Pakistan’s Muslim population to denote this untouchable status for Christians.
On November 9, Ishrat called Yasmeen out of her house and started abusing her for unblocking the sewer line coming from the Christian home. During the dispute, Ishrat called her son, Hassan, who opened fire on Yasmeen. Usman, Yasmeen’s son, was caught in the cross fire as he tried to rescue his mother. Both Christians were shot multiple times and were killed on the scene.
First Information Report (FIR) 635/20 has been registered against Ishrat and Hassan at Ahmed Nagar police station. However, no arrests have been made to date.
The Christian mother and son were shot 21 times in front of the children.
Usman Masih was holding his wife’s hand till the moment of his death. People watched him to death for 20 minutes but no one came forward to help.
Ever since Pakistan occupied Gilgit Baltistan, there has been a massive reduction in Shia population, falling down to more than half when compared to 1948, according to Barrister Hamid Bashani, a native from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and a Human Rights Advocate.
Addressing a webinar on demographic change in Gilgit-Baltistan, Barrister Bashani said that G-B people have been agitating against the abolition of state subject law by Pakistan which has adversely affected the demographic character of G-B.
These changes, he said, can be gauged by observing Shias who constituted more than 80% of G-B population in 1948 have now been reduced to less than 40%.
“The locals have agitated, protested and frequently raised demands seeking constitutional and political rights.” These protests, he said have been met with brute force.
“Making a mockery of the system, the aspiring candidates are ‘pre-screened’ to ensure entry of only those who support annexation with Pakistan and can contest elections. Voices for Rights in Gilgit Baltistan are suppressed by law enforcement agencies and the nationalist leaders are subjected to torture and imprisonment for peaceful protests,” he said.
Barrister Bashani further said that on September 14, 2012, the G-B legislature assembly passed a resolution demanding complete provincial status in Pakistan, which was rebuffed with the legislative assembly of AJK passing of a resolution (11 December 2014) rejecting GB resolution.
Referring to the UN Resolutions, Junaid Mir, President JK Workers Party said that Pakistan has been claiming J&K status as UN-recognized international dispute and that India cannot unilaterally change the status of the state including its constitutional status, external boundaries and the rights of people of J&K.
Dr. Q A Aashob, JK Civil Society leader said that it was for this reason that despite apprehension that the move would wipe out Pakistan’s moral high ground and goodwill cultivated over last one year; would ease international pressure against India; and if formalized, render resolution of J&K issue more distant, Pakistan is forced to undertake the measure.
Under Chinese pressure which would like to have a clearer status of G-B in order to not only safeguard its investments in the CPEC but also acquire a decisive hold in this strategically important territory so essential to its access to the Arabian Sea.
Ashok Bhan, an eminent Jurist and geopolitical expert, said Gilgit-Baltistan has an area of 72,496 sq. Kms, five times more than that of PoJK with a population of approx. 1.8 million, Gilgit Baltistan has been under illegal occupation of Pakistan since 1947. Under the Karachi Agreement (April 28, 1949), the PoJK govt. under duress ceded the control of G-B to Pakistan, which not only separated Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) from PoJK but also gifted Sakshgam Valley (area of 5,180 sq. kms.) to China in 1963.
“Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s announcement to accord provincial status to G-B is another punch on the wounds of people of GB.”
Making a mention of the constitutional provision of Pakistan under Article 257, Bhan said that the Article states that “When the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir decide to accede to Pakistan, the relationship between Pakistan and that State shall be determined in accordance with the wishes of the people of that State”.
He added that Pakistan has always tried to project G-B separately from PoJK. Despite PoJK Interim Constitution 1974 referring to G-B as part of PoJK, PoJK Legislative Assembly passing a resolution for the integration of G-B with PoJK and demands by various sections of the society in this regard, Pakistan never re-united G-B with PoJK. It also abolished the state subject rule in G-B in 1974 allowing Pakistani Sunnis to settle there, thereby changing the demographic profile of the state by converting the Shia majority into minority over the years.
Source: Al Arabiya
The plight of Christians suffering from persecution by Muslims takes an uglier form when trusted neighbors are involved.
The woman and her 25-year-old son were killed in front of their home. Nobody in the village helped them. For human rights activists, the fact is “a huge example of intolerance and hatred that spreads against Christians”, also nourished in schools. Central and state government’s silence and failure to defend minorities.
Normative Islam is based on supremacy. The absolute loyalty to Islam and hatred and disavowal of unbelievers, especially at any sign of threat or confrontation, is nothing new.
“Punjab, Christian mother and son, killed by Muslim neighbours in quarrel,” by Shafique Khokhar, Asia News, November 12, 2020:
Gujranwala (AsiaNews) – On November 9, Yasmeen and her only son, Usman Masih, 25 (photo 2), were shot dead by two of their Muslim neighbours, Hassan Butt (photo 3) and Khizer Butt. At first, some media reported that the killing was due to a case of blasphemy, but later it emerged that the reason was more trivial: a heated discussion between two women, Yasmeen and the mother of the two killers, Ishrat Bibi (photo 4).
Mariyam Kashif, a social activist and Catholic teacher, denounces the brutal murder as “a huge example of intolerance and hatred that spreads against Christians”, also nourished in schools. For some time now Christians, a small minority in the country, have been asking for greater guarantees from the state and a reform of study programs, to remove all aspects of hatred and contempt.
Shabeer Masih, Yasmeen’s husband and Usman’s father, spoke with AsiaNews about the incident. On the day of the shooting, Yasmeen left the house around 10.30 and passed Ishrat Bibi, who was holding a stick and began to fight and beat her neighbour. Two months earlier the two had quarrelled over the water drain in the street.
At one point Ishrat Bibi called her two sons, Hassan Shakoor Butt and Khizar Shakoor Butt who, having come out with their guns, fired 20-21 bullets at Yasmeen. The latter’s son Usman came out of the house and seeing his lifeless mother went to help her, but he too was hit by shots.
Shabeer Masih says that his son lived for about twenty minutes, asking for help, but no one in the village lifted a finger; a car passed by, but no one tried to take the son to the hospital (photo 1). Usman had become the father of a little girl just a week ago and had another three-year-old daughter. “The whole family was very friendly and had good relations with the people of the village,” adds Shabeer crying.
On the contrary, according to several testimonies, Ishrat Bibi is known as a bully and contemptuous woman. She had arrived in Gujranwala village three years ago, the wife of Shakoor Butt, a twice married man who lived in Basti Qudratabad Wazirabad.
At Ahmed Nagar Police Station, Shabeer Masih filed a complaint against Ishrat and Hassan, and the two were arrested.
On 10 November, hundreds of Christians and representatives of civil society were present at the funeral of Yasmeen and her son. The Gujranwala Justice and Peace Bureau is helping the family and offering them legal assistance.
Human rights activist Daud Bhatti has condemned this brutal attack against members of a minority and claims that this type of violence is increasing day by day. “The government and the state – he says – are silent on the issue of minorities, and this is a sign of their negative intentions. This poor family has the right to justice and the guilty must be punished according to the law”….
11/17/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – In October, a 13-year-old Christian girl named Arzoo Raja was abducted as she played outside of her family’s home in Karachi, Pakistan. Arzoo’s parents reported the abduction to local police but were told two days later that their daughter had willingly converted to Islam and married their 44-year-old Muslim neighbor, Ali Azhar.
Since then, Arzoo’s case has made headlines in Pakistan and around the world.
Unfortunately, Arzoo’s case is not unique in Pakistan. According to a 2014 study by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, as many as 1,000 Christian and Hindu women and girls are abducted, forcefully married, and forcefully converted to Islam every year.
Many victims are minors taken from their families, sexually assaulted, married to an assailant, and held in captivity justified by falsified marriage and conversion documents. Violence and threats are used to compel victims to make statements in court supporting their captors.
Despite the odds stacked against them, some victims resist and escape to freedom. Reunited with their families, these survivors often have to go into hiding to maintain security.
International Christian Concern (ICC) recently interviewed one of these survivors to get a more in-depth view of abductions, forced marriages, and forced conversions in Pakistan. The details of the abduction, including names, have been changed or left out to maintain the survivor and her family’s security.
“I will never forget what I went through,” Maria Bibi told ICC. “Although I was able to rejoin my family after two months, the wounds of this inhuman act will stay with me until the last breath of my life.”
In early 2019, Maria, a 15-year-old Christian girl, was abducted from a relative’s house in Pakistan’s Punjab province by an adult Muslim man named Iqbal. After the abduction, Maria was raped multiple times over several weeks and kept in Iqbal’s custody.
Maria’s father filed a report with local police soon after the abduction. However, local police took more than a week to officially file a report and start the investigation into Maria’s disappearance.
After approximately a month in captivity, Iqbal took Maria to a mosque where she was told by three men she must recite the Islamic proclamation of faith. When she refused, the men beat her and forced her to place thumb impressions on several blank papers. The three men then performed a marriage ceremony and again forcefully put her thumb impression on a document used as a falsified marriage certificate.
The next day, Maria was taken to the local court. Before giving her statement, Iqbal told Maria that if she did not say she had converted to Islam and married him of her own free will, he would kill Maria’s parents and siblings. According to Maria, Iqbal made it seem like he already had some of her siblings in his custody.
In court, Maria gave into Iqbal’s threats. She claimed she was 20-years-old, converted to Islam, and married Iqbal of her own free will. The fake marriage certificate and conversion documents were submitted to the court, and Maria was renamed Ayesha.
With extraordinary bravely, however, Maria was eventually able to resist Iqbal and his threats. In a subsequent court hearing, Maria claimed that she was forcefully converted, forcefully married, raped, and abducted by Iqbal.
Within a week, Maria’s new testimony was recorded in front of a judge, and police were ordered to investigate the claims of forced marriage and forced conversion. However, even though the marriage and conversion were in doubt, Maria remained in Iqbal’s custody.
Police attempted to interview Iqbal, but he and his family fled, leaving Maria locked in a room in their house. Maria was eventually rescued by neighbors who broke into the locked room after hearing her cries for help.
Free, Maria called her parents. She was soon reunited with them and taken into protective custody by local police.
After more than two months in captivity, the Lahore High Court found that Maria was abducted, forcefully married, and forcefully converted. The court went on to order that Maria return to her parents and that Iqbal be arrested.
Since gaining her freedom, Maria and her family have lived in hiding. They have changed where they live, their phone numbers, and even the names they use in public. The family faces continuous threats from Iqbal’s relatives and supporters, claiming that Maria should be reunited with Iqbal and not stay with a Christian family.
“This should not happen to a girl of any caste or creed,” Maria shared with ICC. “There should be a law in Pakistan that protects girls from religious minority communities.”
“Kidnapping girls, abusing and converting them against their will is like the law of the jungle,” Maria continued. “The kidnappers are misusing religion for their pleasure. The authorities must protect religious minorities, and there must be a campaign or orientation session for police to learn how to deal with these cases without bias.”
Since Maria has returned to her family, dozens of similar incidents have been reported by Christians across Pakistan. Famous cases like that of Maira Shehbaz, Huma Younas, and Arzoo Raja have dominated headlines in Pakistan for months. As Maria suggests, more decisive action must be taken by authorities in Pakistan to curb this abuse. Until this is done, abductions, forced marriages and forced conversions will continue to be perpetrated against the country’s young and vulnerable.
A spokesman for Pakistan’s Ahmadi community said he believed Mahmoob Khan was killed because of his faith.
Gunmen shot and killed an 82-year-old Ahmadi man on the outskirts of Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar, officials said on Monday, the fourth-such alleged targeted killing of a member of the minority group in recent months.
The attackers shot Mahmoob Khan on Sunday as he stood at a bus terminal, said Saleem ud Din, a spokesman for Pakistan’s minority Ahmadi community.
Ud Din said he believed the gunmen had attacked Khan because of his faith. He demanded that the government must take “decisive action” against perpetrators.
“One after another, Ahmadis are being targeted in Peshawar while the government has repeatedly failed to protect and stop the violence against the members of the Ahmadiyya Community,” the spokesman said in a statement sent to Al Jazeera.
Police confirmed the shooting took place but declined to offer any motive.
Last month, a professor from the Ahmadiyya sect was killed by his colleague following arguments on religion.
The Ahmadi faith was established on the Indian subcontinent in the 19th century by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, whose followers believe he was a prophet. Many Muslims claim Ahmadiyya beliefs are heretical to Islam because they believe Muhammad was the last prophet.
Pakistan’s parliament classified Ahmadis as non-Muslims in 1974. Ahmadis have repeatedly been attacked by armed groups since the law was passed, drawing condemnation from human right groups.
Scientist Abdus Salam who was also from the community, who shared the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics, has largely been ignored in Pakistan due to his religious identity.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) in May called the Pakistani government’s exclusion of members of the Ahmadiyya religious movement from a commission on safeguarding the rights of minorities “absurd”.
“The Ahmadis are among the most persecuted communities in Pakistan and to exclude them from a minority rights commission is absurd,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW, a US-based rights group.SOURCE : AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES