Monday, May 31, 2010

VIEW: The Second Amendment

---Daily Times, Pakistan
Monday, May 31, 2010

VIEW: The Second Amendment — Yasser Latif Hamdani

The Second Amendment laid the foundations of intolerance and religious tyranny in Pakistan, which has manifested itself in other ways. Since then our state has been in a downward spiral

The violence against the Ahmediyya community underscores the bigotry that has become the hallmark of our beloved homeland. A community — already sacrificed at the altar of political expediency — has now been made to pay the ultimate price.

Amongst the dead, which included retired army officers and other contributors to Pakistani society, was reportedly the youngest brother of Chaudhry Zafarullah Khan. For those who are unaware of who Chaudhry Zafarullah was, he was the author of the Lahore Resolution, Pakistan’s first foreign minister and Pakistan’s advocate before the Boundary Commission. In other words, this community has paid for such crimes as their valiant contribution to the Pakistan Movement, their significant role in the development of Pakistan and the fact that Pakistan’s only Nobel Prize was bagged by them. Yet what happened on Friday was waiting to happen, given the neglect and at times outright bigotry that our governments, both federal and provincial, have been guilty of on this count starting with the PPP government in 1974.

Things were not always like this. It bears remembering that in 1944 when a group of Muslim divines approached Jinnah to persuade him unsuccessfully to turn all Ahmedis out of the Muslim League, Jinnah was resolute against such bigotry. He responded to them by saying, “Who am I to declare non-Muslim a person who calls himself a Muslim?” It was for this reason that many religious parties and even self-styled freedom fighters like Mirza Ali Khan (Faqir of Ipi) denounced the Muslim League as a “bastion of Qadiyanism”. Yet such was the force of character of our founding father that he not only stood against such bigotry but without any fear appointed the leading Ahmedi Muslim at the time to shoulder the most important responsibility for the Muslims of South Asia, i.e. of arguing Pakistan’s case before the Boundary Commission. So long as the Quaid’s colleagues were at the helm, there was some semblance of common sense that prevailed on this issue. When in 1953, the Majlis-e-Ahrar and the Jamaat-e-Islami, both groups that had opposed the creation of Pakistan, started a mass agitation movement to have Ahmedis like Chaudhry Zafarullah turned out from the government and excommunicated from Islam, Khawaja Nazimuddin, himself a devout Muslim, refused to bow under their pressure. His government fell a few weeks later and the establishment stepped in to sweep up the mullahs with extreme prejudice.

In 1974, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was determined to hang on to power by hook or by crook. Though not a bigot himself, Bhutto was ill-advised by his law minister Abdul Hafeez Pirzada. As a result, the PPP stabbed in the back the one community that had helped them in winning the 1970 elections, by putting a question to parliament that it had no authority to determine. As a result Bhutto managed to hang on to power for another three years. The usurper who replaced Bhutto, General Ziaul Haq, took bigotry against the Ahmedis to another level altogether with his unconstitutional and inhumane Ordinance XX of 1984 specifically targeting this community. His bigotry was upheld by our independent judiciary in Zaheeruddin v The State, where the dispensers of justice compared Islamic symbols with Coca Cola’s intellectual property in an argument that defies all legal sense and logic to justify the ban on the Ahmedis from using any Islamic symbols — symbols that are central to their faith.

Martin Lau, a leading legal scholar of religious freedom in common law jurisdictions, has argued in his paper on Zaheeruddin v The State that Pakistan has abolished religious freedom for Pakistanis, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, through this judicial precedent. My own view is that the very idea of Pakistan as a bastion against the tyranny of the majority was killed the day our parliament decided to take it upon itself to excommunicate a sect from Islam. The Second Amendment laid the foundations of intolerance and religious tyranny in Pakistan, which has manifested itself in other ways. Since then our state has been in a downward spiral. The Gojra incident, violence against Shias, and now the massacre of the Ahmedis is only symptomatic of the real sickness that emerges from the 1974 Amendment. Pakistan shall continue to be on the wrong side of history as long as the Second Amendment remains in the constitution of this republic.

The time has come for the PPP government to undo this great injustice done to not just a minority sect but to Pakistan itself. All roots of Pakistan’s current existential crisis with Islam emerge from that one foul act that was brought about on the ill-advice of Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, who is now challenging parliament’s sovereignty, the same sovereignty he had argued 36 years ago as being absolute. It is now up to the PPP to make a clear choice. Will it continue to defend a dubious legacy or will it come out decisively against religious bigotry?

History beckons President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani to clear the name of Pakistan’s largest political party by undoing what it did in 1974. In this they must be supported unwaveringly by the MQM and the ANP — for they claim to be the guardians of secular liberal politics. The Sharif brothers must also atone for their sins — of having spoken from both sides of their mouths — by supporting this move. Even the religious parties, the Jamaat-e-Islami foremost amongst them, must state unwaveringly that while they may not consider the Ahmedis Muslims, they are willing to leave this final judgement to God.

If they manage to undo this grievous injustice and act of inhumanity, the ladies and gentlemen in our parliament will secure for themselves a permanent place in Pakistan’s history as the visionaries who restored Jinnah’s Pakistan, which is to be built on the ideals of justice, fair play, impartiality and complete equality for all citizens of Pakistan.

Yasser Latif Hamdani is a lawyer based in Islamabad. He can be reached at


COMMENT: We are in it together

---Daily Times, Pakistan
Monday, May 31, 2010

COMMENT: We are in it together — Dr Syed Mansoor Hussain

The Ahmedis have never done anything to harm Pakistan, and yet those that opposed the creation of Pakistan are at the forefront of accusing them of being anti-Pakistan

After the Friday massacre in Lahore, I kept asking myself, how and why we have come to this point. I grew up in the Lahore of the late 50s and 60s. My family was not very religious but neither were they very liberal. I went through a typical upper middle class education for that time, English medium schools, followed by a couple of years in Government College (GC) and then five years in the King Edward (KE) Medical College.

During those years, I had of course heard about the Ahmedis and very probably had friends and classmates who were Ahmedi as there were Shias, Sunnis, and even some Christians, but never gave it a thought. The first time this sectarian anger against the Ahmedis came to the fore in my life was when as a second year student in KE, a classmate of ours died in a tragic swimming pool accident.

We decided to have a funeral prayer (namaaz-e-jinaza) for our classmate on the college campus. Suddenly out of nowhere appeared a bunch of students who belonged to the Islami Jamiat-i-Talaba (IJT) trying to convince us that the deceased was an Ahmedi and a funeral prayer should therefore not be held for him. Fortunately, a majority of students in our class ignored these IJT types and went ahead to offer the prayers.

My earliest memories of Lahore as a child were of processions, riots leading to curfews and eventually something called a Martial Law. Many years later when I went back and read about the early history of Pakistan, I realised that those riots were part of the anti-Ahmedi movement led by anti-Pakistan religious groups like the Ahrar and the Jamaat-e-Islami. Part of my reading included the ‘Munir Report’ written by Justices Munir and Kayani about those ‘disturbances’.

In that report I also found out that the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) government in Punjab led by Mian Mumtaz Daultana had aided and abetted this movement. Indeed that report was an eye-opener and is perhaps a great example of the erudition and the objectivity of the senior judiciary in Pakistan. In my opinion any serious student of the history of Pakistan must read that report.

The decade of the 60s ended with the fall of the military dictatorship of General and then Field Marshal Ayub Khan, leading to the second military dictatorship in the history of Pakistan led by General Yahya Khan. Whatever one might say about the 13 years under these two generals, Pakistan was very much a country infused by a pluralist religious ethos. Sectarianism existed but was very much in a muted and undercover form.

Towards the end of 1971 I left Pakistan for the US. When I left Pakistan it still had two wings, East and West Pakistan; however, soon the country went through a violent rupture. During the next decade, things changed a lot. The Ahmedis were declared non-Muslims by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB), their mosques became ‘prayer houses’ and they were forbidden to call themselves Muslims.

Then came the evil decade of Islamisation in which Pakistan changed entirely. Religiosity of an extreme sort became the accepted norm, and virtually all Muslims not subscribing to an extremist vision of Islam became pariahs. The Ahmedis were pushed into a corner and became completely ostracised. The 1953 agitation against them had finally succeeded. All members of religious minorities who could, fled the country including the Parsees, the Christians, Hindus, and the Ahmedis.

For three decades I lived and worked in the US. Other than the family members of the close friends I made during those years, half were probably Jewish and the rest divided between Christians of different denominations, Indians including Hindus, Sikhs and a couple of Jains, and some Muslims from Pakistan. For me religion became the least important barometer of friendship. Frankly, for most of my professional life in the US, if I had to depend on somebody, it was the Jews followed by the Indians with the Pakistani sorts being quite unreliable as a group.

When I returned to Pakistan some years ago, another General was in charge, and ‘enlightened moderation’ was the slogan being touted by the General and his acolytes. Sadly, whatever the facade was, the reality was that Talibanisation and religious extremism were being pushed by the ‘establishment’. All claims of enlightened moderation were completely exposed when the attempt to take off the ‘religion’ column in the Pakistani passports failed. Like ZAB, Musharraf might have been a religious moderate, but he also gave in to the religious extremists to save his job.

The last few years have seen an escalation of both religiosity as well as religiously-motivated terrorism in Pakistan. It is true that many external factors are stimulating the extremist revival, the most important being the US-led invasion and occupation of first Afghanistan and then Iraq. But that does not absolve us in Pakistan from the charge of letting this menace grow.

It happened due to the collusion of the people in power and flourished because many ordinary Pakistanis support the violent and extreme vision of Islam that is pushed by the Taliban and their ilk. Of course the new democratic governments both at the Centre as well as in Punjab have made appropriate noises but they just do not have the gumption to come out openly against religious extremism and those that pander to it. Unless the ordinary people rise up against this menace, it will never be checked.

As far as the attack on the Ahmedi places of worship (cannot call them ‘mosques’ because that is against the law) is concerned, that is particularly despicable. People aggregate to worship Allah, and they become victims of an attack by those that claim to serve Allah. As far as I know the Ahmedis have never done anything to harm Pakistan, and yet those that opposed the creation of Pakistan are at the forefront of accusing them of being anti-Pakistan.

Syed Mansoor Hussain has practised and taught medicine in the US. He can be reached at


Violence against us enjoys ‘legal sanction’: Ahmadis

---The News International, Pakistan
Monday, May 31, 2010, Jamadi-us-Sani 16, 1431 A.H.

 Violence against us enjoys ‘legal sanction’: Ahmadis

Monday, May 31, 2010
By our correspondent


AHMADIYYA Community Director Mirza Ghulam Ahmed has alleged that all violent acts against the community members enjoy ‘legal sanction’.

Addressing a press conference at the community’s worship place in Garhi Shahu on Sunday, he lamented that since 1974, those associated with the Jamaat had been facing prejudicial treatment, and were even losing their lives at the hands of terrorists.

He said that 95 innocent people lost their lives in the attacks on two centres of the community where they had gathered to offer prayers, and asked wasn’t it the duty of the provincial government to protect them?

Mirza Ghulam Ahmed said the Ahmadiyya community was declared non-Muslim in 1974 by the government through a constitutional amendment and since 1984, the members of the Jamaat had not been able to hold a major gathering. He said the last gathering of the community took place in 1983 and afterwards, their public activities were banned, but those who wanted to eliminate the community members were allowed to hold event. He said the government had also imposed a ban on their prayer call.

To a question about the findings of investigation of Friday tragedy, Mirza Ghulam Ahmed said that so far the Punjab government had not taken the community on board regarding the matter. He said the Ahmadiyya community had played a great role in the Pakistan Movement and later defended the homeland against any aggression. He said the members of the community fought battles for the country and sacrificed their lives but unfortunately, they were declared ‘Wajibul Qatal’ by different elements of the society. He also protested against the display of banners against the Ahmadiyya community, saying a planned campaign against the Jamaat continued unabated.

To a query about the involvement of the Research and Intelligence Wing (RAW) in the Friday carnage, he said he did not think it proper to comment on it. He said the community members were living in India as well as in Pakistan and they had affiliation with their respective countries. The community also issued the list of people who lost their lives in the attacks on the worship places.

Meanwhile, the message of Head of the Ahmadiyya Community Mirza Masroor Ahmed was also circulated among the media persons.

Mirza Mansoor Ahmed condemned the Friday’s terror attacks in Lahore as barbaric. The message further stated that the situation in Pakistan was extremely grave and for decades, Ahmadis had not been able to live in peace, in fact they were living in constant danger.

Mirza further said, ‘The Ahmadiyya is a peace-loving Jamaat, thus there will be no improper reaction from any Ahmadiyya.’ Reporters also visited the site attacked by the terrorists.


Ahmadi man stabbed to death in Narowal

Daily Dawn, Pakistan                               | Provinces

Ahmadi man stabbed to death in Narowal
   Monday, 31 May, 2010

Shoes of members of the attacked Ahmadi community lie outside the building's entrance in the Garhi Shahu area of Lahore. A British businessman Muhammad Bilal was among those who lost their lives in the attack. — Photo by AFP

LAHORE: An Ahmadi man was stabbed to death by an enraged man in Pakistan on Monday, just days after gun, grenade and suicide attacks targeting the religious minority killed more than 80 people, police said.

The stabbing took place in the town of Narowal, some 100 kilometres northeast of Lahore, where suspected militants wearing suicide vests burst into prayer halls on Friday and killed 82 worshippers.

“In the morning, a man identified as Abid Butt climbed the wall of the house of a local Ahmadi family and stabbed Naimatullah, 55, and his son Mansoor Ahmed,” local police station chief Riaz Sangha told AFP by telephone.

Naimatullah died of knife wounds and his son was rushed to hospital, he added.

The attacker escaped, the officer said.

Sangha quoted residents as saying that the assailant threatened to not leave any Ahmadi alive.

Salimuddin, a spokesman for Lahore’s Ahmadi community “strongly condemned” what he called a “targeted killing”.

Pakistan declared Ahmadis non-Muslims in 1974 and 10 years later they were barred from calling themselves Muslims.

A US State Department report on human rights says that 11 Ahmadis were killed for their faith in 2009.

Religious violence in Pakistan, mostly between majority Sunni Muslims and minority Shias, has killed more than 4,000 people in the past decade.

©2010 DAWN Media Group. All rights reserved

Briton killed in Lahore attacks on Ahmadi’s

Daily Dawn, Pakistan                               | World

Briton killed in Lahore attacks on Ahmadi’s
   Monday, 31 May, 2010

Shoes of members of the attacked Ahmadi community lie outside the building's entrance in the Garhi Shahu area of Lahore. A British businessman Muhammad Bilal was among those who lost their lives in the attack. — Photo by AFP

LONDON: A British man was killed in attacks on two places of worships in the Pakistani city of Lahore which killed more than 80 people, the Foreign Office said on Sunday, reports AFP.

“I can confirm that a British national died in the attacks on Friday,” a Foreign Office spokeswoman said, without giving further details.

Reports said the victim was Muhammad Bilal, a 58-year-old married father of three children, from Southfields in southwest London.

The businessman had set up a medical clinic and provided financial help to the poor of Lahore, his relatives told British media.

The victims were killed when militants wearing suicide vests burst into prayer halls at the Garhi Shahu and Model Town mosques, firing guns, throwing grenades and taking hostages.

They targeted members of a religious minority — Ahmadis, who have been declared non-Muslim by Pakistan.

©2010 DAWN Media Group. All rights reserved

Pak Minority Body Demands Action Against Extremists

Outlook, India
Pak Minority Body Demands Action Against Extremists
M Zulqernain/ Lahore | May 31, 2010

Pakistan’s minorities are feeling more vulnerable than ever before after the deadly attacks on Ahmedis and want the government to deal with Taliban and hardline religious elements with an “iron hand,” an organisation representing them has said.

“We urge the government to take effective measures to check the increasing influence of Taliban in Pakistan, especially the province of Punjab where they are targeting any sect at their will,” the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance said in a statement.

The APMA condemned in the strongest terms the “cowardly attack” by terrorists on two mosques of the minority Ahmedi sect in Lahore that left 95 dead and over 100 injured last week.

“Minorities today in Pakistan are more vulnerable than ever before,” it noted.

APMA office-bearers Naveed Amir Jeeva, George Paul, Akmal Bhatti and Shamoon Raheel demanded that an immediate operation should be launched to eliminate centres where Taliban are training terrorists.

“Taliban have become a threat for the solidarity of Pakistan. (We urge) followers of all faiths and religions in the country to join hands to resist Talibanisation and foil the nefarious designs of terrorists who are out to destabilise Pakistan,” APMA said.

Jeeva regretted that successive incidents at Bamniwala, Kasur, Gojra, Sambrial and Lahore in Punjab had proved that the government is not serious about discharging its constitutional obligation to provide security to the life and property of minorities in the province.

Paul said gruesome acts by terrorists have caused loss of precious human lives, promoted a sense of insecurity among minorities and provided an opportunity to the anti-state lobby in the West to ruin the image of Pakistan across the globe.

APMA said provincial government should ensure that all worship places of minorities have adequate security in order to avoid occurrence of any untoward incident in the future.

Meanwhile, Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyyah Pakistan spokesman Saleemuddin said: “The brazen attacks were not just acts of terrorism but the deadly culmination of years of sectarian hatred, violence and odious campaigning aimed squarely against the Ahmadiya Jamaat”.

He said Ahmedis have been declared ‘Wajjibal Qatal’ (fit to be killed) and reviled in public and civil life.

“Popular sentiment has been so forcefully positioned against Ahmedis in Pakistan that it is considered an Islamic obligation and an act of great merit to kill and murder members of the Jamaat,” he said.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Murder of another innocent Ahmadi in Pakistan

Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat International
30th May 2010

Murder of another innocent Ahmadi in Pakistan
Murder inspired by Lahore attacks

It is with great regret and sadness that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat confirms that following the Lahore attacks on Friday, another Ahmadi, Mr Nehmatullah of District Narawal, Pakistan was today martyred due to his faith. It appears that this pre-meditated murder was directly inspired by the Lahore attacks.

Full details have not yet been received. However what is known is that the deceased was attacked whilst sleeping during the night with his wife next to him. He was attacked with a knife and died soon after.

One of the sons of Mr Nehmatullah recognised the assailant as he tried to flee and thus the assailant also attacked him with a knife. The son of Mr Nehmatullah survived and has been moved to a hospital where he is being treated. The extent of his injuries is not yet known.

The village in which the deceased lived is populated with three Ahmadi families. After hearing recently in a Friday sermon that Ahmadis were ‘Wajibul Qatl’ the assailant was allegedly openly preaching that he would murder Ahmadis. The term ‘Wajibul Qatl’ is being used increasingly in Pakistan in regard to Ahmadis and translates as deserving to be killed.

Following the Lahore attacks on Friday the assailant also allegedly said openly that he would personally make sure that no Ahmadi was left alive in his village.

The deceased is survived by his wife, three sons and three daughters.

This incident shows again that Ahmadis are facing a time of great uncertainty and danger in Pakistan. The International Community and Media are all urged to take action to help safeguard and protect the lives of Ahmadi Muslims.
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Press Secretary AMJ International

Death toll rises to 94 following Lahore terrorist attacks

Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat International
30th May 2010

Death toll rises to 94 following Lahore terrorist attacks
Ahmadis have turned towards God with patience

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat confirms that thus far 94 Ahmadis have been martyred in the terrorist attacks that took place in Lahore two days ago. Some media outlets, particularly in Pakistan are wrongly claiming that the figure is less. The number of those who have been seriously injured is more than 125.

27 people died at the Baitul Nur Mosque in Model Town, the remaining fatalities occurred at the Darul Zikr mosque in Garhi Shahu.

The deceased include Judge Munir Ahmad Sheikh, the Amir (President) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat in Lahore; Major General Nasir Ahmad, the President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Model Town; Mr Mahmud Shad, a missionary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat and a number of other senior community officials.

The majority of those martyred have been taken to Rabwah where more than 90 graves have been dug at the community’s graveyard. The martyrs are being buried in groups and thus far over fifty burials have taken place. Plans for a large scale burial of all the victims at one time were abandoned due to security concerns.

As a mark of respect market traders and other shops in Rabwah have remained closed since the attacks.

The Press Secretary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Abid Khan said:
“It is not only the family members of the deceased who have been left bereaved but in fact every Ahmadi the world over is feeling great sadness at this time. Despite what has happened no Ahmadi has taken to the streets in protest; no Ahmadi has displayed anything but patience. We, under the guidance of our spiritual leader, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, have instead turned towards God and prayed for the victims, for their bereaved relatives and for the long term peace and prosperity of Pakistan. We will continue with this example no matter what is thrown at us in the full certainty that God is with us and always will be.”
22 Deer Park Road, London, SW19 3TL UK
Tel/Fax: 020 8544 7613 Mob: 077954 90682
Email: press at
Press Secretary AMJ International

Up-date on the massacre of Ahmadi worshipers in Lahore

Ahmadiyya Foreign Missions Office, Vikalat Tabshir, Pakistan
URGENT — Human Rights
May 29, 2010

Up-date on the massacre of Ahmadi worshipers in Lahore

Lahore, Rabwah; May 30, 2010: The death toll from the terror attacks on the two mosques of Ahmadiyya community in Lahore is 94, and not 79 as given by the police to the press. The number of injured, however, is much higher than was assessed initially; their number exceeds 125. Among the casualties, 27 dead and 34 injured were in the Model Town mosque, while the rest resulted in the carnage at the mosque in Garhi Shahu.

The dead include Judge (R) Munir Ahmad Sheikh, the Amir of the Lahore Ahmadiyya community, Major General (R) Nasir Ahmad, president of the Model Town chapter, Mr Mahmud Shad, a missionary, Mr Ejaz Nasrulla, a nephew of Late Sir Muhammad Zafrullah Khan, former President of the International Court of Justice at Den Haag, Mr Muhammad Aslam Bharwana, a senior railway official and a number of community officials.

Most of the dead, when alive, had opted to be buried in Rabwah, therefore soon after the attack, over 90 graves were dug up in the town’s graveyard. The dead were buried after their funeral prayers in groups. Fifty burials have taken place. The program of a joint big burial ceremony was abandoned for security concerns.

Rabwah wears a sad look. Markets, trade centers and shops remained closed, as the dead bodies kept arriving from Lahore. Funeral ceremonies still continue.

The community, however, did not take to the street, take out processions or stage a protest in Rabwah. It is not the practice with Ahmadis. Instead, they have turned to God and continue to pray for themselves and the countrymen in general. They were guided by a statement from their supreme leader, the Khalifa tul Masih V: “The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat is a peace loving true Muslim Jamat. Thus there will be no improper reaction from any Ahmadi. Our salvation lies in our supplication to God Almighty and we believe that He has, and always will, help us”. The head of the Pakistani community, Mirza Khurshid Ahmad echoed the same sentiment in a press conference on May 29.

As for the terrorists, Tehrik Taliban Punjab has claimed the responsibility. It is confirmed by those who survived the massacre in Garhi Shahu that the terrorists faced no resistance from the police during their attack, and had sufficient time to even examine the dead bodies in the main hall and kill those who were still alive. They shouted slogan of Khatme Nabuwat Zinda bad, (Long live End of Prophethood). According to eye witnesses, four of them managed to escape after the carnage.

The attack commenced at 13:40, and the police eventually entered the mosque at 16:10. As such, the terrorist had two and half hours to finish the job they came for.

The federal government and human rights concerns have confirmed that the provincial government had been informed of terrorist threat to the Ahmadiyya community. The Ahmadiyya headquarters had kept the provincial and federal governments regularly informed of the activities and open threats of the anti-Ahmadiyya clerics, and warned against the sort of tragedy that eventually materialized in Lahore.

The incident has evoked unequivocal condemnation from all sections of the society in Pakistan, including Mr Nawaz Sharif, Mr Shahbaz Sharif and leaders of politico-religious parties.

Ahmadis claim 95 killed in Lahore attack

Daily Dawn, Pakistan               | From the Paper > Front Page

Ahmadis claim 95 killed in Lahore attack
   By Faisal Ali
   Sunday, 30 May, 2010

A police official shows guns and ammunition on Saturday, May 29, 2010 recovered from militants who stormed the Garhi Shahu mosque on Friday, in Lahore. — Photo by AP.

LAHORE: The death toll from the terror attacks on two places of worship of the Ahmadiya community in Lahore rose to 79 on Saturday. The figure was 74 on Friday.

However, a spokesman for the Jamaat-i-Ahmadiya Pakistan told Dawn that 95 people of the community had lost their lives in the strikes at Model Town and Garhi Shahu.

Punjab police spokesman DIG Akram Naeem Bharoka told reporters that 79 people had died and 107 injured in the bloody carnage.

Police obtained a 20-day physical remand of 17-year-old Abdullah alias Mohammad from an anti-terrorism court. The bomber was caught by worshippers and is in the custody of the Crimes Investigation Agency.

The other bomber, 20-year-old Mooaz from southern Punjab, who was earlier identified as Ameer Moavia, is being treated at Jinnah Hospital. He has been unconscious since Friday and underwent a CT scan.

Police arrested three suspects on information provided by Abdullah, of Rahim Yar Khan. Abdullah identified the two other men who blew themselves up in Garhi Shahu as Darwaish of Swat and Mansoor of Waziristan.

He told investigators that he and three others were sent for the two missions by Badar Mansoor, the head of the Punjabi Taliban group in Waziristan.

A police official said that Abdullah had provided valuable information to the investigators about other members of the network.

The Civil Lines police picked up six Afghan nationals on Friday night. DIG Bharoka said initial investigations suggested that four militants had reached Batti Chowk in Lahore from Miramshah via Bannu on May 21 and gathered at a nearby mosque.

They were taken by two facilitators to their potential targets for scouting out the place same day. They then left for Tableeghi Markaz in Raiwind, where they stayed under the pretext of attending Ijtima.

According to the DIG, the attackers stayed at Masjid Ibrahim on Ferozpur Road on May 26 and went to Batti Chowk on May 27, where their facilitators were already present.

One of the facilitators took Abdullah and Mooaz to Model Town and the other left for Garhi Shahu with Darwaish and Mansoor for a second scout-out. On May 28, the four men and their facilitators again converged on Batti Chowk and left for their targets on motorcycles. The attackers were provided heavy weapons, suicide jackets, magazines and detonators.

DIG Bharoka said the two facilitators, one of them identified as Rana, had provided logistic and weaponry support to the assailants.

Abdullah told the investigators that his younger brother Badar worked for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and he himself got training from one Munir.

The DIG said that arrest of the two bombers had unearthed their network’s link with the TTP and police would be able to reach others. He said that militants were in the habit of forming new groups.
©2010 DAWN Media Group. All rights reserved

A murderous mindset

Daily Dawn, Pakistan                           |      Columnist
A murderous mindset
   By Huma Yusuf
   Sunday, 30 May, 2010

Pakistan is currently leading 56 other Islamic countries in an anti-defamation of religion campaign. But it is too ironic, indeed insulting, to see our government lobby for the rights of religions on the world stage when it cannot defend the rights or lives of its own people at home. - Photo by Reuters.

As soon as I heard that gunmen had attacked two Ahmadi houses of worship in Lahore, I posted a despairing comment on my Facebook page, condemning the violence and wondering out loud why we, as a nation, had let it come to this.

Only later was I struck by the irony of my action: I had logged on to a website recently banned for carrying blasphemous content to decry the murder of members of a community that has for too long been persecuted on charges of blasphemy. But the point of my comment was not to be ironic — it was simply the closest I could get to screaming out loud.

Even as the attack was unfolding, law-enforcement officers started pointing fingers at the Taliban and its affiliated terror groups. But we can no longer pretend that Friday’s attacks were the extreme actions of a lone terror group. Instead, attacks of escalating horror and violence, growing in their scope, against the Ahmadi community are the most terrible articulations of a widespread social sentiment — that members of this community are, because of their religious beliefs, lesser people. For letting this ill-conceived notion flourish over the decades, Pakistanis are collectively complicit in the attacks.

On a practical level, the attacks are another tragic failure by the state to protect its citizens. The government is aware of the increasingly religiously motivated nature of terror attacks in Pakistan, and had been warned of the possibility of organised violence against Ahmadi targets in Punjabi cities. Friday’s ambush comes on the heels of the blatant persecution of the Ahmadi community in Faisalabad through robberies, kidnappings and target killings in March and April. In this context, it is appalling that the government had not provided better security for the mosques.

But more than an inquiry into the anti-terror capacity of the Lahore police, Friday’s attacks demand soul-searching at all levels of the state and society. The fact is, young men, not automatons, carried out Friday’s attacks. They were no doubt brainwashed into thinking that they were attacking the sites of worship of ‘infidels’, a label that is consistently used by extremists to dehumanise minorities and other vulnerable groups.

In a way, the attackers were fed the same rhetoric that Pakistanis have been heartily chewing on in the past few weeks — the idea that some views, practices or people are anti-Islam and blasphemous, and should therefore be obliterated. This basic idea is manifest in the sweeping ban against Facebook and other websites believed to host sacrilegious content, in the murder of a former ISI official accused of having links to the Ahmadi community and now in the slaughter of over 70 people at prayer.

It may seem inappropriate to compare these disparate events, but the logic deployed in each instance has been the same: wherever a difference of opinion or a divergent belief is detected, it must be snuffed out, no matter what the toll on human life, human rights, freedom of belief, freedom of expression and social harmony. This is the premise of the endemic and institutional intolerance that has Pakistan in a death grip.

Immediately after the attacks, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif declared that the “entire nation will fight this evil”, by which he meant terrorism. One wishes he had the courage to correctly identify the ‘evil’ that Pakistanis must collectively battle as the intolerance and hatred that have become hallmarks of our national character.

Political rhetoric aside, the ferocity of Friday’s attacks demands a concrete and drastic government response. It has been well documented over the years that growing intolerance of minority beliefs is a consequence of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws. These have been used to justify censorship, settle personal vendettas, facilitate land grabs and inflict violence on minorities. Crying blasphemy, as Fauzia Wahab well knows, is also becoming a political tactic to silence dissent in a mockery of the basic principles of democratic dialogue. Most dangerously, accusations of blasphemy fuel the mob mentality that has hijacked social interaction in this country.

Given that this is the broader religio-political context in which Friday’s attacks occurred, there is no question that the government must repeal the blasphemy laws on an urgent basis. In August 2009, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced the establishment of a committee to review “laws detrimental to religious harmony”, which was understood to include the blasphemy laws. Nothing came to pass from that process. Subsequently, in February, the government announced that it would implement procedural changes to laws that can be exploited to create ‘violence and disharmony’ in society. Sadly, no changes have been implemented and the battle cry of blasphemy is increasingly invoked. Now, there is no more time for dithering on this issue.

Moreover, the government should reconsider lobbying the United Nations for international legislation against blasphemy. Pakistan is currently leading 56 other Islamic countries in an anti-defamation of religion campaign. But it is too ironic — indeed insulting — to see our government lobby for the rights of religions on the world stage when it cannot defend the rights or lives of its own people at home. Indeed, how can the powers that be champion blasphemy laws in the name of protecting religious freedom, when those same laws are being used to incite hatred, foster extremism and justify the persecution and even murder of innocent Pakistanis?

The fact is, if our government truly rejects Friday’s violence, it should take all the necessary steps to address the root causes of discrimination against religious minorities. Chasing down those who planned, financed and executed Friday’s attack is just a stop-gap measure — the government must now take the bold step of showing Pakistanis as well as the international community that intolerance and hatred can have no place in our society. In addition to outlawing the blasphemy law, the government must support open debate, interfaith dialogue and school and madressah curriculum reform with an eye to dispelling misconceptions about different religions and sects.

Sadly, that’s a tall order, which cannot come to pass for a host of reasons: shameful historical precedent; the resurgence of banned Punjabi sectarian outfits pursuing an independent agenda; the political clout of religious parties; and Pakistan’s aspirations to be a major player within the Muslim world. But if we don’t address systemic intolerance and the violence and human rights abuses that it engenders, someone else will.

In 2002, the US House of Representatives introduced a resolution urging Pakistan to repeal its blasphemy and anti-Ahmadi laws. If the situation worsens, it may place similar demands on Pakistan again. But if the impetus to quell religious intolerance comes from an external power, it will never be effective. This is one evil we have to ward off ourselves.
©2010 DAWN Media Group. All rights reserved

Culture of intolerance

Daily Dawn, Pakistan                 |   From the Paper > Editorial

Culture of intolerance
   Sunday, 30 May, 2010
Officials visit the Garhi Shahu mosque which was stormed by militants on Friday, in Lahore, on Saturday, May 29, 2010. - Photo by AP.

Friday’s gruesome attacks on Ahmadi worshippers in Lahore were a tragic reminder of the growing intolerance that is threatening to destroy our social fabric. Bigotry in this country has been decades in the making and is expressed in a variety of ways. Violence by individuals or groups against those who hold divergent views may be the most despicable manifestation of such prejudice but it is by no means the only one. Religious minorities in Pakistan have not only been shunted to the margins of society but also face outright persecution on a regular basis.

Take the police force, which is notorious for terrorising the poor. Even within that section of society, however, it reserves its harshest treatment for non-Muslims, for the simple reason that brutal or coercive acts directed against minorities are even less likely to get policemen into trouble. There is no shortage of more insidious means of discrimination either. To this day many job applications require candidates to state their religion. Has the irrelevance of this query never struck the organisations in question, or is it part of a screening process designed to weed out ‘undesirables’? Now let’s venture down to the basic building blocks of society, from institutions to households. In many middle-class and affluent Muslim homes, separate eating utensils of distinctly poorer quality are reserved for domestic staff. But there’s more: a further distinction in entitlement is made between Muslim and non-Muslim employees.

None of this is surprising in a country whose statute books are riddled with discriminatory laws, where jingoism is drummed into the heads of schoolchildren and where radio and television talk show participants can casually state that “we are all Muslims here in Pakistan”, which is patently not the case. This is a country where a non-Muslim cannot, by law, become president or prime minister. The blasphemy laws continue to be abused to settle personal scores, evade debts owed to non-Muslims and to grab their land by forcing them to flee in the face of violence. The state, meanwhile, remains largely unmoved by the plight of minorities — and that isn’t surprising either for it is a party to this persecution.

Tackling the terrorists who kill almost at will isn’t the only job at hand. The culture of intolerance has become ingrained in Pakistan and wide-ranging measures are required to change our collective mindset. Textbooks need to be revised and the perils of both brazen and covert narrow-mindedness must be publicly debated. It would also help if major religious parties came forward to condemn atrocities such as Friday’s attacks on Ahmadis in Lahore. But that is perhaps asking for too much.
©2010 DAWN Media Group. All rights reserved

Lahore carnage: Punjab still in state of denial

Daily Dawn, Pakistan                |     From the Paper > National
Lahore carnage: Punjab still in state of denial
    By Ismail Khan
    Sunday, 30 May, 2010

Punjab is still in a state of self-denial. As gunmen, lobbing hand grenades and firing automatic weapons killed 79 worshippers, all that television anchors and those sitting inside the television studios were keen to find out from their reporters covering the carnage in Model Town and Garhi Shaho was the ethnic identity of the assailants.

“How were they dressed?” asked one newscaster. “They were wearing shalwar kameez,” the reporter responded. “And they looked like Pathans,” the reporter added. Even after the police claimed clearing up the two places, anchors remained curious. “Are they locals,” asked a senior anchor who conducts a 50-minute show on one of the leading news channels.

Well, they must be disappointed. The main suspect in custody, Abdullah, turns out to be a Chachar from Rahim Yar Khan. Does this make the crime the gunmen have perpetrated by less? Had the perpetrators turned out to be Pakhtuns, which everybody in the electronic media so keen to find out and establish, would that have made the bloodbath any more tragic?

Sadly, the Punjab and for that matter the mainstream media, dominated by many television anchors who happen to be from Pakistan’s largest province, have still not gotten it.

Those who indulge in such acts may speak different languages, they may have different ethnic origins and they may come from different regions, they are one when it comes to their ideology. When they fight, they don’t fight as Punjabis and Pashtuns. They share goals and they share ideology.

It is plain and simple. They want to pull down the present system and establish an Islamic state. They oppose Pakistan’s pro-U.S policies and its support to Washington in the war on terror and therefore, consider all those representing the state as legitimate targets.

They want to wage ‘jihad’ in Afghanistan and therefore, view any attempt by Pakistan to stop them from going across to wage war against the US and Nato forces as deviation from the basic tenants of Islam.

And last but not the least, they consider minority sects as heretics and deviants and therefore, their killing for them is kosher.

But had the newscasters stopped at identifying the ethnic origin of the attackers, they would still have saved the day for themselves. But wait a minute. A newscaster asked a reporter about the security on the many other places of worship of the Ahmadi group in Lahore. And can you beat this? The reporter gave out the locations of all the places where Ahmadis offer their prayers.

Another reporter went a step further and identified some of the wounded officials as Ahmadis. Much like the gunmen who went on a shooting binge, the television anchors and reporters also had a field day and got away with it too.

But that’s how it was attempted to link up the twin-attacks in Lahore to a particular ethnic origin, in this case the Pashtuns.

Watch the news coverage after the DIG Lahore’s press conference and nowhere has this been mentioned as to where the assailants belonged to. All that all the television channels said was where they came from. To their consolation, the assailants did train in Miramshah and travelled to Bannu via Lahore. No mention of who the mastermind Rana was. Clearly as the name suggests, he was not a Pashtun either.

That was just one disturbing dimension of the gory episode broadcast live from Model Town and Garhi Shahu.

But what perhaps was more striking was the way the police behaved during the entire duration of the bloody incident.

Dozens of policemen armed with semi-automatic weapons and guns were seen rushed to the scenes of the bloodbath. They were seen huddled together either behind a wall or some other cover, without firing a single bullet.

More surprising was the way the two assailants were so openly shooting from a minerate and from behind a wall of the Ahmadis’ Jumaat Khana. In fact, the lone gunman standing, raising both hands with Kalashnikov holding in one, a sign of triumph in clear view of all, including the television camera. A sniper could have easily pulled him down but it seemed the Lahore police did not have one in place.

And then to cap it all, the celebratory gunfire by the Lahore police, which has now become their hallmark, every time they finish their job. What was there to celebrate? The death of seventy-nine people?

Manawan was the first such instance when the police were seen shooting in the air to express their jubilation after clearing up the place. Clearly, such acts betray a sense of relief after obvious tense moments. No one has raised any question over what has now become a behavioural pattern of the Lahore police.

Punjab’s capital finds itself in the eye of the storm. Its time it learns lessons from the past episode and starts looking inside than looking in other directions. Self denial wouldn’t do. Its time it acknowledges that the war on terror is as much their as it is the others. It needs to understand the origin of this scourge and not the ethnic origin of the perpetrators of such attacks.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

94 Ahmadi worshippers slain, 80 injured in sectarian terrorist attacks on two Ahmadiyya mosques in Lahore

---Ahmadiyya Foreign Missions Office, Vikalat Tabshir
FLASH — Human Rights
May 29, 2010

94 Ahmadi worshippers slain, 80 injured in sectarian terrorist attacks on two Ahmadiyya mosques in Lahore

Lahore; May 29, 2010: In a meticulously planned attack, sectarian terrorists carried out a slaughter of Ahmadi worshippers who had gathered for Friday worship in two major Ahmadiyya mosques in Garhi Shahu and Model Town of Lahore. Absence of any effective police presence enabled them to succeed in their gory operation, as planned. Ninety-four worshippers died and eighty were injured, according to the latest information.

The attacks were timed to be simultaneous. Two or three attackers targeted the Model Town mosque while a larger contingent attacked the bigger Garhi Shahu mosque. The terrorists killed or injured the few community guards and stormed the main assembly halls. When inside, the attackers used hand grenades and sprayed bullets indiscriminately on the worshippers. At Garhi Shahu they availed plenty of time to expend their ammunition. Many more casualties occurred when they blew themselves up.

The police arrived in due course and apparently took their time to ensure a safe and smooth intervention. As a result, little timely rescue and evacuation efforts were made which resulted in death of many injured due to bleeding. According to media reports two police officers were injured slightly at the initial stage at the Garhi Shahu site.

Two terrorists were apprehended by Ahmadi youth in Model Town mosque, stopping them from blowing themselves up. This contained the damage. They were handed over to the police.

According to press reports, three heads of suicide bombers were recovered from the Garhi Shahu mosque.

Almost a month ago the Governor of Punjab made a public statement that the province is on knife-edge as extremists take hold, and he accused politicians of backing banned groups as minorities suffer violence and intimidation. The Federal Interior Minister also said that his ministry had warned the Punjab government of possible terrorist attacks.

PAKISTAN: The tragedy continues — the killing of more than eighty Ahmadis by Muslim extremists

---Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong

Asian Human Rights Commission — Statement

PAKISTAN: The tragedy continues — the killing of more than eighty Ahmadis by Muslim extremists

May 29, 2010

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

PAKISTAN: The tragedy continues — the killing of more than eighty Ahmadis by Muslim extremists

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has repeatedly drawn the attention of the world’s community to the blatant abuse of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan. This ongoing abuse is neither investigated properly nor remedied by the government who are effectively depriving them of their fundamental freedoms and Human Rights. The Ahmadi Muslims do not have the right to vote under the eighth amendment of the 1973 Constitution and have no freedom to practice their faith, belief, practice or worship. In spite of its claim to be a democracy the government of Pakistan has shown no inclination to repeal its disgraceful laws and regulations against the Ahmadi Muslims.

The AHRC has repeatedly urged the government of Pakistan to repeal such laws which encourage fundamentalism, extremism and the resulting terrorism in the country. It is a well known fact that the fundamentalist and extremist Mullahs and religious fanatics are the root cause of the murder, persecution and harassment of scores of Ahmadis throughout Pakistan. This is tantamount to a crime against democracy and humanity.

It is with sadness that we report this latest heinous act of terrorism against the Ahmadis which took place during the time of their Friday congregation on May 28 in their principal mosque on Allama Iqbal Road and another mosque in Model Town in Lahore. While the Friday worship service was being conducted the two mosques were attacked by the anti-Ahmadiyya hooligans supported by the extremist groups and protected by the government authorities. The worshipers were attacked with hand grenades and sprayed with bullets. The attackers also included suicide bombers who detonated suicide vests inside the mosques killing over eighty worshipers and injuring hundreds.

This is the culmination of events in which fundamentalists have been allowed free reign by the government of Pakistan. For a number of days now fundamentalists have been holding religious conferences with the intent of inciting the masses against the Ahmadis and openly challenging the government.

It is a haunting tragedy which could have been avoided if the government of Pakistan had fulfilled its duty towards the safety and security of its citizens regardless of their religious affiliations. The AHRC once again urges the government of Pakistan to restrain from its shameful treatment of Ahmadis who are respected as a peace loving and law abiding community all over the world. Pakistan which is already in the clutches of terrorism should take immediate steps to avoid further destruction of its State and subjects.

What we have seen by this latest catastrophe is defacto state sponsored terrorism and a frightening vision of things to come. As long as the government sits by idly making empty claims of democracy and moderation, religious extremists will continue to commit these atrocities. For too long now the government has stood by passively and let these atrocities continue. The government of Pakistan now needs to stand up and adopt a zero tolerance approach to deal with this issue once and for all by giving Ahmadis the same rights enjoyed by other citizens of Pakistan instead of capitulating to the demands of extremists.

The AHRC also urges the international community to take notice of this event so as to ensure that Pakistan complies with its obligations under International Laws and Regulations, particularly the United Nations Charter on Human Rights. Systematic and sustained pressure needs to be put on Pakistan to ensure it compliance with these obligations rather than let it continue in its present course of denial.

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.


A Massacre In Lahore

---Outlook, India                          International / Opinion

May 29, 2010

A Massacre In Lahore
Though the Ahmadis had been subjected in the past to persecution and atrocities by the Sunni extremists, the May 28 attacks are the most brutal acts of terrorism directed against them since Pakistan was born in 1947
B. Raman

Eighty persons were killed and over 120 others injured in two acts of terrorism directed against Ahmadi worshippers in two mosques belonging to their community in Lahore on May 28, 2010. Among those killed were former sessions judge Ameer Ahmad Sheikh, the Amir of the Ahmadia community in Lahore Ejazul Haq, and Major General (retd) Nasir Ahmad.

Though the Ahmadis had been subjected in the past to persecution and atrocities by the Sunni extremists, these were the most brutal acts of terrorism directed against them since Pakistan was born in 1947. There had been worse acts of terrorism directed against the Shias, who are in a much larger number and much more influential politically and economically in the Pakistani society, but the Ahmadis, who are a marginalized community with no political or economic power, had been spared such acts of terrorism till now.

The two commando-style terrorist attacks were staged at the time of Friday prayers in the two Ahmadi mosques located in the Garhi Shahu and Model Town areas of Lahore. Since the Ahmadis are treated as non-Muslims in Pakistan because they do not recognize Prophet Mohammad as the only Prophet of Islam, their places of worship are not recognized as mosques.

These attacks have, therefore, been described by the Pakistani officials and media as attacks on places of worship and not mosques. The Ahmadis, who regard themselves as Muslims despite their reverence for the founder of their community as another Prophet, look upon their places of worship as mosques no different from other mosques. Thus, the two incidents were two more instances of brutal attacks by Sunni extremists on another group of Muslims worshipping in mosques. However, in Pakistan, to describe the Ahmadis as Muslims and their places of worship as mosques would be considered blasphemous. There are five million Ahmadis in Pakistan’s total population of about 180 million.

Seven heavily armed terrorists throwing hand-grenades into the packed gathering of worshippers and opening fire with assault rifles forced their way into the Garhi Shahu mosque. Two terrorists raided the Model Town mosque. While the worshippers in the Model Town mosque beat back the raiding terrorists before the police intervened, the worshippers in the Garhi Shahu mosque were kept hostage for nearly three hours by the terrorists before they were rescued by the security forces.

The security forces are reported to have captured two of the nine terrorists involved in the two attacks. Three allegedly blew themselves up and the remaining four were killed in the exchange of fire. According to the Daily Times of Lahore, the attackers also fired shots and hurled a hand grenade at a nearby mosque of Ahl-e-Hadees, adjacent to the City Law College.

A TV channel quoted the Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah as saying that one of the captured terrorists belonged to Rahim Yar Khan district and used to be a student of a madrassa in Karachi and that the other terrorist captured is a Pashtun.

On March 8, a suicide bomber had rammed his car packed with explosives into a Federal Investigation Agency building in Lahore, killing 11 people. On March 12, two suicide bombers had attacked Pakistani Army vehicles in a military cantonment in the city, killing more than 50 people. There were no major terrorist incidents in Lahore in April.

A statement disseminated from London through the Internet on behalf of the international Ahmadiya community said:
“The attacks are the culmination of years of un-policed persecution of the Ahmadiya Muslim Jamaat, which is a minority sect in Pakistan. In 1974 legislation was passed that declared Ahmadis to be ‘non-Muslim’ and in 1984 further legislation was passed in which the practice of the faith was outlawed. At regular intervals since then Ahmadis have been attacked but today’s attack is the most cruel and barbaric. All Ahmadis, who are based in 195 countries, are peace loving and tolerant people and yet they are continually targeted by extremist factions. During his Friday Sermon at 1pm today (May 28) the Head of the Ahmadiya Muslim Jamaat, His Holiness Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, said: “Today two of our mosques in Lahore were attacked by extremists. At the moment we do not have full details of what has happened. It is clear though that a number of our Ahmadis have been killed and many others have been injured. These people had merely come to the mosques to offer their Friday prayers and yet became victims of a heinous terrorist attack. May God grant patience to the bereaved and elevate the status of those who have been martyred.”
A report disseminated from Lahore by the Associated Press said:
“Ahmadis are reviled as heretics by mainstream Muslims for their belief that their sect’s founder was a saviour foretold by the Quran, Islam’s holy book. The group has experienced years of state-sanctioned discrimination and occasional attacks by radical Sunni Muslims in Pakistan, but never before in such a large and coordinated fashion.”
The AP report further said that before the attacks the suspect from Rahim Yar Khan had stayed at a centre belonging to the Tableeghi Jamaat.

Geo TV reported that the Punjab province branch of the Pakistani Taliban had claimed responsibility, but the authenticity of the claim is yet to be established.

On April 17, 2010, Dawn of Karachi had reported an increase in kidnappings for ransom and murderous attacks on members of the Ahmadiya community in the industrial town of Faislabad in the Punjab. A member of the local Ahmadiya community had alleged that the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) headed by Prof.Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, which is the political wing of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), was responsible for these incidents and that the local police were not taking action against those involved. Faislabad is a stronghjold of the LET. Abu Zubaidah of Al Qaeda, now held in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, was captured in 2002 from the house of an LET activist in Faislabad. The Ahmadis have been alleging that the JUD and some members of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) of Mr.Nawaz Sharif, former Prime Minister, have been acting in tandem in attacking the members of the community in Punjab. In this connection, they have named Syed Saqlain Shah, a member of the National Assembly, his uncle Syed Iqbal Shah, a former member of the Punjab Provincial Assembly, and Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, senior Vice-President of PML (N).

The LET, which is close to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), never indulges in acts of terrorism in Pakistani territory. It is doubtful whether it would have carried out the terrorist attacks on the Ahmadis despite its past acts of atrocities and intimidation against them. A strong suspect is the Sunni extremist Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), which has been involved in acts of terrorism in Pakistani territory for many years. Like the LET, it too is close to Al Qaeda and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

Two other suspects are the Jaish-e-Mohammad, whose leader Maulana Masood Azhar, had served for some years in the LEJ, and an organization mysteriously calling itself the Asian Tigers with no allusions to Islam or the Holy Koran, which looks upon the Ahmadis as American agents. The Asian Tigers were allegedly responsible for the recent kidnapping and execution of Sq. Leader Khalid Khawaja, a retired officer of the Pakistan Air Force, who had served for some years in the ISI. After his retirement, he used to hobnob with a number of jihadi terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, the TTP, the JEM, the LET and the LEJ, and had come under suspicion in connection with the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, the US journalist in the beginning of 2002. The Asian Tigers had accused him of being an agent of the US and the Ahmadis. Not much is known about its origin and background. It is possible that the LET or Ilyas Kashmiri’s 313 Brigade also operate under the name Asian Tigers in order to avoid attracting the suspicion of the ISI and the US.

B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies.

UN calls for minorities’ protection in Pakistan

---Daily Dawn, Pakistan                                Front Page
UN calls for minorities’ protection in Pakistan
Saturday, 29 May, 2010

People take cover outside one of two places of worship stormed by gunmen in Lahore on May 28, 2010. Gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed two Pakistani places of worship in Lahore, killing around 74 people, officials said. — AFP Photo/Arif Ali

GENEVA: UN rights experts on Friday urged Pakistan to do more to protect religious minorities after an attack at two places of worship in the country that killed some 80 people.

“The government must take every step to ensure the security of members of all religious minorities and their places of worship so as to prevent any recurrence of today’s dreadful incident,” three UN experts said in a statement.

“In Pakistan and elsewhere, Ahmadis have been declared non-Muslims and have been subject to a number of undue restrictions and in many instances institutionalised discrimination.”

“This emboldens opinion makers who wish to fuel hatred and perpetrators of attacks against religious minorities.”

The statement was from Asma Jehangir, a special rapporteur on freedom of religion; Gay McDougall, an independent expert on minority issues; and Philip Alston, a special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

The international Red Cross also condemned the Lahore attacks, calling them part of an alarming wave of attacks on civilians.

“The ICRC strongly condemns such deliberate attacks against civilians, of which the only purpose can be to spread terror among the population,” said Jacques de Maio, the International Committee of the Red Cross head of operations for South Asia.

“These attacks form part of a highly alarming, unacceptable series of attacks on civilians in Pakistan,” he added in a statement. —AFP

©2010 DAWN Media Group. All rights reserved

Worshippers slaughtered in deadly ‘final warning’

---The Independent, UK                             World

Worshippers slaughtered in deadly ‘final warning’

Saturday, May. 29, 2010 By Omar Waraich in Islamabad and Jerome Taylor

Pakistani commandos carry an injured worshipper from one of two mosques stormed by gunmen in Lahore
Pakistani commandos carry an injured worshipper from one of two mosques stormed by gunmen in Lahore
Qamar Suleman had just left his house for Friday prayers in Lahore’s Garhi Shahu neighbourhood when gunfire and explosions erupted at the end of his street.

As a member of the Ahmadis, a heavily persecuted minority Islamic sect that hardliners deem to be heretics, he instantly feared the worst.

He ran towards the Darul Zikr mosque, where scores of his friends and relatives were gathered, arriving just in time to see the gunmen claim their first victims. “The first people they shot were the boys outside the mosque who were in charge of security,” he told The Independent. “They were just young boys. They weren’t armed in any way.”

It was part of a brazen double-pronged assault yesterday on the Ahmadi sect. Suicide bombers and men wielding AK47s and grenades stormed two Lahore mosques within minutes of each other, slaughtering more than 70 people and injuring some 120.

Police said that at least seven attackers were involved, including three bombers and a gunman mounted atop a minaret who sprayed bullets into the crowds of worshippers below. “It was like a war going on around me,” said Luqman Ahmed, who was at the second mosque in the Model Town neighbourhood. “I kept on praying, ‘May God save me from this hell.’”

The attack on that mosque, near the centre of Pakistan’s second city, ended fairly quickly, with commandos storming the building to find scores of dead bodies on different floors. Two of the four gunmen are thought to have escaped.

In Garhi Shahu, the death toll is thought to be higher. Three militants held several people hostage inside the mosque in a siege that lasted four hours. “They fought the police for some time, but on seeing they were being defeated they exploded themselves,” said Sajjad Bhutta, Lahore’s top police official.

The attacks were a brutal reminder that despite Pakistan’s recent offensive in the tribal areas near the Afghan border, militants still have the ability to strike deep inside the country.

The identity of the attackers remains unclear, though it is widely suspected to have been the work of Punjabi extremists linked to the Pakistani Taliban and associated with al-Qa’ida.

“This was the work of local militants,” Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab, told The Independent. However, police said at least one of the attackers was a Pashto-speaking teenager from the tribal areas.

Several media outlets also received a text message of responsibility from the Pakistani Taliban and the “Punjabi wing” of al-Qa’ida, a hitherto-unknown group. “This is a final warning to the [Ahmadis],“ said the chilling message, “Leave Pakistan or prepare for death at the hands of Muhammad’s devotees.”

The Ahmadi sect is perhaps the worst treated of Pakistan’s long-suffering minority groups. In the 1970s, bowing to pressure from hardliners, Pakistan declared them to be non-Muslims. Ever since, they have suffered periodic attacks, with many – including the current spiritual leader – forced to flee the country. But yesterday’s twin attacks caused the largest loss of life suffered by the sect in a single day.

It showed a broadening of the militants’ targets. Similar coordinated attacks have scarred Lahore throughout Pakistan’s three-year wave of terror but they usually focus on security installations or personnel, not minority groups. “The blurring of lines between the Taliban and Sunni sectarian militants places heterodox communities like the Ahmadis in double jeopardy,” said Ali Dayan Hasan of Human Rights Watch.

A war of words broke out across Pakistan’s political spectrum as opponents blamed the provincial Punjab government, led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s younger brother Shahbaz, for having allegedly been too soft on militant groups in Punjab.

“I believe they have a soft-pedalling policy because these militants are their supporters,” said Mr Taseer, who was appointed as governor by President Asif Ali Zardari and is a fierce opponent of the Sharifs.

Ahsan Iqbal, a senior leader of Mr Sharif’s party, hit back. “Taseer and others are just trying to politicise the issue,” he said. “We condemn this attack in the strongest words, it is sheer madness. No religion permits such attacks on any place of worship … We have no tolerance for any terrorists.”

Leaders of the Ahmadi community, many of whom have been based in Britain since they fled Pakistan in the early 1980s, called on the Pakistani authorities to do more to protect minority religions from violent extremists. “Ahmadi Muslims epitomise the peaceful practice of Islam and to target them highlights that extremists will leave no stone unturned in their quest to spread terror,” said Rafiq Hayat, President of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK.

Back in Lahore, Mr Suleman was in shock. “We are a peaceful community. How can you kill people as they pray?”

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