Report of the fact finding mission to Pakistan

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Endorsements

This report has been produced and commissioned jointly by the Asian Human Rights Commission and the International Human Rights Committee.

The report has been written by independent parties who are not associated with the Asian Human Rights Commission or the International Human Rights Committee and have not been paid any compensation for their contribution. In this regard the Asian Human Rights Commission and the International Human Rights Committee gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the delegates of the mission which include independent journalists from Sweden and Holland and Nilmini Roelens LLM Solicitor and XX for the initial drafting of this report.

Key Findings

  • The Constitutional amendment of 1974 designating Ahmadis as Non-Muslims laid the foundation for many years of hardship and persecution for this minority Muslim sect

  • The amendment to the penal code in 1984 prohibiting the expression of their Muslim identity further entrenched the position of Ahmadis

  • The separate electoral system for Ahmadis renders the community an exposed and disenfranchised community

  • Absence of the necessary political will (largely due to fear of reprisal from but at times also due to sympathies with orthodox clerics) prevents any progress in improving the Human Rights violations against Ahmadis through law reforms or provision of the necessary backing and resources

  • Law enforcement agencies are frequently unsympathetic and unwilling and often unable to provide protection to Ahmadis due to pressure from orthodox clerics and from mob violence

  • Ahmadis in Pakistan live in fear and are denied their most basic and fundamental human rights and rights of religious freedom

  • Ahmadi ladies are doubly disadvantaged with the restrictions and curtailment of their activities. Effectively: (1) societally within a gender repressive Pakistan and (2) denial of congregational prayers and other communal activities due to the security situation pertaining to Ahmadis

  • The Judiciary is intimidated and placed under pressure by clerics and lawyers who share fundamentalist ideologies

  • Ahmadis are harassed at all levels (primary to higher education) within the educational system in both the state and private sectors

  • There is little freedom of expression in the media and journalists who reports issues openly sympathetic to Ahmadis do so at risk to themselves

  • Hate propaganda against Ahmadi Muslims in media, on the streets on posters and distributed through pamphlets and at large gatherings are endemic and continue unabated and uncensored fuelling the persecution of Ahmadis

  • Religiosity permeates most aspects of life and all strata of society and the proliferation of madrassas perpetuates the anti-Ahmadi sentiments within society

  • The Constitution and the laws of Pakistan discriminate against Ahmadi Muslims

  • Impact on Ahmadis – Daily restrictions placed on Ahmadis are taking a psychological toll on many children, women and men. This is something which needs to be explored further

Recommendation

Following our observations the mission had identified a number of areas in which there is much needed improvement to ensure that some progress is made towards assuring the basic human rights of the Ahmadi community in Pakistan.

Clearly little progress can be made whilst the mindset remains highly charged with an “overzealous” outlook which is based on violence. It is equally clear that until more liberal and sensible politicians pool together their strength and find the political will required to resist the pressure from the fanatical elements in the orthodox clergy headway cannot be made.

Whilst training and encouragement may treat some of the dystopiac symptoms of the country only an abatement of the sources of the funding for madrassas and long term investment in secularisation and freely available state education to remove the core reasons that make individuals become radicalised will alleviate the propagation of the fundamentalist thinking and eradicate the terrorism that plagues the nation.

Whilst we realise in today’s climate it is unlikely that a wholesale reform of the Blasphemy laws would be “unrealistic” we believe that failing short of that for the time being the Government should entertain at least the following measures so that the process of reform and modernisation can begin.

The global threat from terrorism and Islamic radicalisation closer to home as evidenced by the attack on the Parisian magazine Charlie Hebdo on 9 January 2015 and numerous incidents around the world will make it more pressing that the international community pays close attention to the need for urgent action to check the ever rising tide of fundamentalist ideology.

We have identified the following core essentials by way of long term and short term recommendations on the one hand to the state of Pakistan and on the other to the international community.

Long Term

To the international community

  • 1. Repeal articles of the Constitution of Pakistan so that Muslims and Non-Muslims have equality of treatment as definition of a part of the population as Non-Muslim has prepared the way 91 for the persecution of all those who are designated as Non-Muslims.
  • 2. Repeal several sections of Pakistan’s Penal Code which forbids Ahmadis from the peaceful practise and propagation of their faith.
  • 3. Invest in state education to avoid the poor turning to madrassas as educational options for the young.
  • 4. Work towards a more secular state education system and ensure teachers are trained to avoid inflammatory remarks against minorities and minority religions.
  • 5. Positively promote religious tolerance in schools by including the study of other faiths as part of the curriculum as well as Islamiyat.
  • 6. Permit Ahmadis to hold peaceful gatherings in public and to undertake their annual gatherings and sporting tournaments free of fear by having police presence to avoid attacks and clashes.

Short Term Recommendations

To the international community

  • 1. Take note of what is happening to religious minorities such as the Ahmadis in Pakistan and carry out more public awareness campaigns.

  • 2. To ensure there is only one common voting list in Pakistan irrespective of one’s faith or religion.

  • 3. Assist in the release of Ahmadis kept in prison under the Blasphemy or Anti-Ahmadi laws.

  • 4. It speedily processes the applications of those Ahmadi Muslims fleeing Pakistan so that they are recognized as refugees.

  • 5. An allocation is made for Ahmadi Muslims to be taken under the quota assistance by member states.

To Pakistan

  • 1. Positively encourage and require the Pakistani government to take steps to amend and repeal the Blasphemy laws and other persecutory measures in the Pakistan Penal Code.

  • 2. Abolish the separate electoral list and ensure all Pakistani citizens have the unfettered right to vote, irrespective of ones faith or religion.

  • 3. Return the nationalized schools and colleges of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in accordance with the government’s own general policy in this regard.

  • 4. Take punitive measures against all those individuals who incite to murder or incite violence.

  • 5. Train law enforcement agencies to prevent and deal with mob violence against Ahmadis and other religious minorities.

  • 6. Provide rapid back up and support to the police by using the elite forces or armed forces where mob violence or terrorist attacks against religious minorities are taking place to rapidly quell any such violence or attacks.

  • 7. Take concerted action to locate and bring to justice all perpetrators.

  • 8. Censor incitement to violence on television and ensure all religious programmes are pre-recorded to enable this.

  • 9. Promote freedom of press and a press standards agency is empowered to ensure this and to avoid inflammatory material being disseminated.

  • 10. Outlaw pamphlets, posters or bill boards that promote religious intolerance and spread hatred and violence particularly those endorsed or affiliated to the State.

  • 11. In the spirit of the National Action Plan:
    a) disallow all anti-Ahmadiyya rallies, Jalsas, processions in Chenab Nagar (Rabwah) held in the name
    of Khatme Nabuwwat (or similar organisations); and
    b) ban all hate literature and speech that incites sectarian emotions and encourages violence.

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