Religious Persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
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Home U.S. Department of State Annual Report 2004
Pakistan Human Rights Practices, 2004

Excerpts from
U.S. Department of State
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2004
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 28, 2005.

…The Government imposed some limits on freedom of association, religion, and movement. Governmental and societal discrimination against religious minorities remained a problem.… [ Para 4 ]


Section 1
Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:

a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

During the year, killings linked to sectarian, religious extremist, and terrorist groups continued. Also during the year, attacks on houses of worship and religious gatherings resulted in the deaths of nearly 200 persons (see Section 2.c.).… [ Para # 14]

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Police failed in some instances to protect members of religious minorities—particularly Christians, Ahmadis, and Shi’as—from societal attacks (see Sections 2.c. and 5). [ Para # 30]

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

A First Information Report (FIR) is the legal basis for all arrests. Police are to issue FIRs provided complainants offer reasonable proof that a crime has been committed. A FIR allows police to detain a named suspect for 24 hours after which only a magistrate can order detention for an additional 14 days, and then only if police show such detention is material to the investigation. In practice, the authorities did not fully observe these limits on detention. FIRs were frequently issued without supporting evidence as part of harassment or intimidation. Police routinely did not seek magistrate approval for investigative detention and often held detainees without charge until a court challenged them. Incommunicado detention occurred (see Section 1.c.). When asked, magistrates usually approved investigative detention without reference to its necessity. In cases of insufficient evidence, police and magistrates colluded to continue detention beyond the 14-day period provided in the law through the issuance of new FIRs.…… [ Para # 42]

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Anti-Terrorist Act allows the Government to use special streamlined courts to try violent crimes, terrorist activities, acts or speech designed to foment religious hatred, and crimes against the State. Cases brought before these courts are to be decided within 7 working days, but judges are free to extend the period as required. Under normal procedures, the High and Supreme Courts hear appeals from these courts. Human rights activists have criticized this expedited parallel system, charging it is more vulnerable to political manipulation. [ Para # 54]

In accordance with the Anti-Terrorist Act, the Government banned the activities of and membership in several religious extremist and terrorist groups. However, many of the groups that the Government banned still remained active. [ Para # 65]

Section 2
Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The Anti-Terrorist Act prohibits the possession or distribution of material designed to foment sectarian hatred or obtained from banned organizations. Court rulings mandate the death sentence for anyone blaspheming against the “prophets.” The Penal Code provides for life imprisonment for desecrating the Koran and up to 10 years in prison for insulting another’s religious beliefs with the intent to outrage religious feelings (see Section 2.c.) [ Para # 81]

The Government generally did not restrict academic freedom. However, the atmosphere of violence and intolerance fostered by student organizations, typically tied to religious political parties, continued to limit academic freedom. On some university campuses, well-armed groups of students, primarily from radical religious organizations, had clashes with and intimidated other students, instructors, and administrators over issues such as language, syllabus content, examination policies, grades, doctrines, and dress. These groups frequently facilitated cheating on examinations, interfered with the hiring of staff, controlled those admitted to the universities, and sometimes also controlled the funds of the institutions. Such control generally was achieved through a combination of protest rallies, control of the campus media, and threats of mass violence. In response, university authorities banned political activity on many campuses, but with limited effect. [ Para # 85]

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for freedom “to assemble peacefully and without arms subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of public order,” and the Government generally observed this right, but with some restrictions. …… Ahmadis have been prohibited from holding any conferences or gatherings since 1984 (see Section 2.c.). …… [ Para # 86]

c. Freedom of Religion

The Constitution states that adequate provisions shall be made for minorities to profess and practice their religions freely; [**] however, the Government limited freedom of religion. Islam is the state religion. The Constitution requires that laws be consistent with Islam. All citizens were subject to certain provisions of Shari’a, such as the blasphemy laws. Reprisals and threats of reprisals against suspected converts from Islam occurred. Members of religious minorities were subject to violence and harassment, and police at times refused to prevent such actions or to charge persons who committed them. The President and the Prime Minister must be Muslim. The Prime Minister, federal ministers, and ministers of state, as well as elected members of the Senate and National Assembly (including non-Muslims) must take an oath to “strive to preserve the Islamic ideology, which is the basis for the creation of Pakistan” (see Section 3). [ Para # 90]

Religious groups must be approved and registered; there were no reports that the Government refused to register any group. [ Para # 91]

The Constitution declares the Ahmadi community, which considers itself a Muslim sect, to be a non-Muslim minority. Provisions of the penal code prohibited Ahmadis from engaging in any Muslim practices, including using Muslim greetings, referring to their places of worship as mosques, reciting Islamic prayers, and participating in the Hajj or Ramadan fast. Ahmadis are prohibited from proselytizing, holding gatherings, or distributing literature. Government forms, including passport applications and voter registration documents, require anyone wishing to be listed as a Muslim to denounce the founder of the Ahmadi faith. Ahmadis were frequently discriminated against in government hiring and in admission to government schools. [ Para # 92]

Complaints under the blasphemy laws, which prohibit derogatory statements or action against Islam, the Koran, or the prophets, were used to settle business or personal disputes and to harass religious minorities or reform-minded Muslims. Most complaints were filed against the majority Sunni Muslim community. Most blasphemy cases were ultimately dismissed at the appellate level; however, the accused often remained in jail for years awaiting a final verdict. Trial courts were reluctant to release on bail or acquit blasphemy defendants for fear of violence from religious extremist groups. On October 26, the National Assembly passed a bill that revises the complaint process and requires senior police officials’ review of such cases in an effort to eliminate spurious charge. During the year, there were 8 persons convicted under the blasphemy laws and another 50 ongoing cases. [ Para # 93]

All religious groups experienced bureaucratic delays and requests for bribes when attempting to build houses of worship or to obtain land. Ahmadis were prevented from building houses of worship. For example, in Taltay Aali, Gujranwla District, the Ahmadi community was barred from completing construction, following attacks on the site by local Muslims. [ Para # 94]

Christians and Ahmadis were the targets of religious violence. On August 21, unknown assailants shot and killed Barkatullah Mangla, an Ahmadi advocate, at his residence in Sargodah. No one was arrested in the case. …… [ Para # 98]

Islamic religious leaders frequently harassed the Ahmadi community and organized marches, conferences, and demonstrations against it. For example, on July 23, several thousand Sunni Muslims demonstrated in the Ahmadi-majority city of Chenab Nagar (Rabwah) over a decision to relocate the local police station. The station, which had included a small mosque, had been constructed on land on loan from the Ahmadi community. The local Islamic leadership objected to the return of the mosque site to the Ahmadi owners. On September 6, the provincial government, bowing to public pressure, ordered the site returned to police. [ Para # 99]

The Ahmadi, Christian, Hindu, and Shi’a Muslim communities reported significant discrimination in employment and access to education, including at government institutions. [ Para # 101]

For a more detailed discussion, see the 2004 International Religious Freedom Report. [ Para # 102]

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution provides for equality before the law for all citizens and broadly prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, caste, residence, or place of birth; however, in practice there was significant discrimination based on these factors. [ Para # 127]

Other Societal Abuses and Discrimination

The Shi’a, Christian, Hindu, and Ahmadi communities all faced discrimination and societal violence (See Section 2.c.) [ Para # 161]

** Word “freely” which appeared in the original Objective Resolution, passed by the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in March, 1949, was omitted when it was made a substantive part of the Constitution of Pakistan by P.O. (Presidential Order) No.14 of 1985, Art.2 and Sch.item 2 (with effect from March 2, 1985). Resume Reading
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