HRCP appalled by massacre of Ahmadis
LAHORE: It comes as no surprise that eight Ahmadis have been gunned down, while at worship, in the village of Moong, near Mandi Bahauddin.
Attacks similar to that staged by the four gunmen on motorcycles, who were able to pull up at the place of worship at dawn, unleash a volley of bullets that struck the elderly and small children alike and then escape, have been seen repeatedly over the past few years.
HRCP has frequently warned that such outrages are directly caused by the forces of intolerance, hatred and militancy that have established an iron-grip on society. The lack of commitment to loosening this hold has already resulted in the loss of at least 115 lives in sectarian violence across the country in the first ten months of 2005.
The most shocking aspect of the outrage at Moong is that, despite simmering tensions over the past 15 days or more, authorities failed to take any measures to calm the situation. Although numerous complaints were made by the Ahmadi community, no serious effort was made to prevent highly provocative material from being published in local newspapers. The Ahmadi place of worship was not protected, nor, according to reports received by HRCP, any attempt made to prevent clerics in the area from fanning hatred against the community.
It is obvious that given the prevailing environment, more such attacks will take place. More families will lose children, brothers and fathers as a result of such targetted killings. The impunity available to the murderers in the past can only encourage other zealots, blinded by hate, to follow in their footsteps.
The measures that could bring some improvement in the situation, by penalizing those delivering inflammatory speeches under law, by ensuring local administrations do not ignore complaints of sectarian harassment, by taking steps to eradicate hatred from school text-books and by rehabilitating misguided young militants in the past trained with State support, have yet to be taken. And until they are implemented, more atrocities against innocent citizens will be committed by militants, adding to the strains already pulling society apart and contributing to the dangerous friction growing within it.
Syed Iqbal Haider