Gunmen kill 2 members of Pakistan’s Ahmadi minority

by Admin
Gunmen kill 2 members of Pakistan’s Ahmadi minority

Police in central Pakistan said Saturday that unknown assailants had separately shot and killed two members of the minority Ahmadi community.

Both shootings took place in the Mandi Bahauddin district in Punjab, the country’s most populous province. Police and community leaders stated that the victims were 62 and 30 years old.

Punjab has seen the bulk of recent violence against what critics describe as Pakistan’s long-persecuted minority community.

The district police chief told local media they had opened an investigation into Saturday’s killings, and one of the suspected assailants had been apprehended.

No group immediately took responsibility for the shootings. Ahmadi community representatives blame Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan, or TLP, a far-right religious political party, for inciting followers to attack their members and places of worship.

TLP leaders routinely use offensive anti-Ahmadi language in rallies and gatherings and call for the killing of blasphemers.

Ahmadis consider themselves Muslim, but the Pakistani parliament declared them to be non-Muslim in 1974 and further amended its laws in 1984 to prohibit community members from “indirectly or directly posing as Muslims.” The minority sect is also barred from declaring or propagating its faith publicly and building places of worship in Pakistan.

The South Asian nation is often criticized for not doing enough to prevent crimes against members of its religious minorities, including Christians.

Last month, a mob of hundreds of people gathered in a Christian settlement in Sargodha, another Punjab district, and violently attacked a Christian man, identified as Nazir Masih, who was in his yearly 70s, after he was accused of desecrating Islam’s holy book, the Quran.

The violence resulted in severe injuries, including multiple fractures to Masih’s skull, and he died in a hospital a few days later. His relatives rejected blasphemy charges against him as baseless.

The Sargodha incident revived memories of one of the worst attacks on Christians in August 2023, in Jaranwala city in Punjab. It involved thousands of Muslim protesters attacking a Christian settlement and burning 21 churches, as well as damaging more than 90 properties over allegations two Christian brothers had desecrated the Quran.

Blasphemy is a highly sensitive issue in Pakistan, and mere allegations have led to mobs lynching dozens of suspects — even some in police custody. Insulting the Quran or Islamic beliefs is punishable by death under the country’s blasphemy laws, though no one has ever been executed.

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