Minorities Worship Places Under Constant Attack in Pakistan
SEPTEMBER 14, 2017
By Waqar Hussain
Kashif Nawab, 40, is a regular church-goer in Yohanabad, a majority Christian
neighborhood in Lahore. However, after a terrorist attack on two churches in March
2015, he feels himself insecure while going to Church every Sunday.
“Though I live nearby a church in my locality, the attacks on churches have created a
sense of insecurity in me and many others. We are still traumatized,” Nawab, a human
rights activist and a private job holder, said, adding, “For the most of time, when I go
to Church I fear anything can happen anytime and I feel whether I will go back to my
home (alive) or not.” He feels there is more threat to minorities ‘dominant
Extremist and terrorist groups in Pakistan have been attacking worship places of
religious minorities and minority Muslim sects in the society across the country for
the past more than two decades, killing hundreds. There have been attacks on Shiite
mosques and Imambargahs; Bohra worship places; Ahmadiyya community worship
places; churches; and Hindu temples.
According to the research, separately conducted by Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) and
National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), two different organizations
working on minorities’ rights, there have been more than 50 major incidents of
targeted and mob attacks on churches, Hindu temples and Ahmadi community places
on religious grounds, in last two decades. While, there have been nearly 40 attacks
by terrorist and militant groups on the minorities worship places.
Other than terror attacks, the worship places are vandalized by Muslim majority mob
on false accusations, blasphemy allegations, land-grabbing and to oust them from the
areas on the basis of hatred and religious discrimination, the studies indicate.
Muhammad Muzahir Shigri, Punjab secretary information Majlis Wahdatul
Muslimeen (MWM), a Shiite religio-political group, said there were more than 50
major attacks on Shiite worship places and Shiite processions in the past 20 years
killing hundreds of their community members. He said these attacks plan to hinder
their practicing of faith freely and without fear.
Salimuddin, spokesperson of Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan, said from 1984 to
2017 as many as 27 Ahmadi mosques have been forcibly demolished; 21 worship
places of the community were set on fire; construction of 57 mosques was forcibly
stopped; and 17 mosques have been forcibly occupied by different other groups. Two
of the worship places in Lahore were also attacked killing nearly 100 people, he
Due to the situation, the minorities, in general, live in the grip of fear even during the
worship, a right guaranteed in the Constitution of Pakistan, many believe.
Article 20 of Constitution of Pakistan guarantees “freedom to profess religion and to
manage religious institutions”. It reads: “Subject to law, public order and morality:-
(a) every citizen shall have the right to profess, practice and propagate his religion;
and (b) every religious denomination and every sect thereof shall have the right to
establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions.”
While, Article 36 of the Constitution reads: “The State shall safeguard the legitimate
rights and interests of minorities, including their due representation in the Federal
and Provincial services.”
Peter Jacob, executive director of Centre for Social Justice, said attacks on worship
places in Pakistan are not new. “As far as the largest populated province, Punjab is
concerned the history of attacks on worship places is older than Pakistan. Even at the
time of Partition there were attacks on worship places of different communities
“For last 20 years, we are seeing that the worship places are being attacked by mobs
and terrorists. There have been armed attacks on mosques, Imambargahs, churches
and other worship places.”
Jacob said the Supreme Court of Pakistan passed a landmark judgment in 2014 to
safeguard rights of religious minorities. A part of the judgment was to establish
Special Force to protect minorities worship places. However, the government has not
taken any practical step in this direction yet, he lamented. The responsibility of
protecting these places, gradually, has been shifted to the particular community or
sect those have constituted heir volunteergroups.
“Security of worship places is not much satisfactory. There are different intimidations
in cities which are not visible like other rural areas,” Mobarik A. Virk from Ahmadi
community observed, adding, “With the gradual increase in attacks on Ahmadi
worship places, now the community mostly practices faith in private houses rather
openly.”With this growing intolerance, he said, women are the most vulnerable as
they have stopped going to worship places because of their particular burqa dress.
With the increase in attacks on our worship places, women and children are mostly
not allowed to come to worship places, he disclosed.
Virk believed the state, as per constitution, should protect every citizen irrespective
of cost, color, religion and safeguard their rights to make Pakistan an inclusive and
pluralistic society.“But state is afraid of religious clergy,” he maintained.
A June 2014 judgment by a three–member bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan
headed by the then Chief Justice Tassadaq Jillani, the court directed the respective
government(s) to take special measures to protect minorities worship places.
“A Special Police Force be established with professional training to protect the
places of worship of minorities.” The court also said that in all cases of violation of
any of the rights guaranteed under the law or desecration of the places of worship
of minorities, the concerned Law Enforcing Agencies should promptly take action
including the registration of criminal cases against the delinquents. The court
observed: “We find that the incidents of desecration of places of worship of
minorities could be warded off if the authorities concerned had taken preventive
measures at the appropriate time.” The Court also found that the inaction on the
part of law enforcement agencies was on account of the lack of proper
understanding of the relevant law. The judgment reads.
“There is need to take actual steps to prevent attacks on worship places,” says Najam
U Din, director Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), an independent nongovernment organization. “State needs to ensure prevention of attacks though
intelligence, and sentence the culprits through prosecution.” There are hardly a few
incidents where actual culprits have been arrested and sentenced to set example, he
said. The HRCP director observed that the situation has created a perception in
general that it sides with themajority mindset while the marginalized groups are
compelled to compromise and are given a sense that there is no justice for them.
“The state needs to create equilibrium and evolve a focused strategy announcing that
such attacks will not be tolerated at all and worship places would be protected by at
any cost,” he suggested, adding, “But, unfortunately, the track record of the
government to curb these attacks is not good yet.” The commission, recently, also
held a consultation engaging minorities to discuss ways and means to better protect
their worship places.
A recent statement by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights on Human Rights Council 36th session urged Pakistan to take effective
measures to protect rights religious minorities in Pakistan. Talking about rights issues
in 40 countries, including Pakistan, he said; “In Pakistan, the authorities often
encourage intolerance for minorities or minority views, with sometimes deadly
consequences. Even allegations of blasphemy or suggestions that blasphemy laws
require revision to comply with the right to freedom of thought and religion can lead
to vigilante violence.”
Though there is a growing sense of insecurity in minorities while terming the security
measures by the police unsatisfactory but a conviction is there to protect faith.
“Hence it is a matter of faith so we also go to church with more conviction with
promise to fight this type of violence and terrorism,” Nawab affirmed urging state to
step forward to safeguard them.
Anti-Ahmadiyya conference in Ahmadiyya headquarters town, Rabwah
September 7, 2017: Mullas hold rallies and conferences all over Pakistan on
September 7 to commemorate the anti-Ahmadiyya 2nd Amendment to the
Constitution. This amendment was introduced by the Z.A. Bhutto government of PPP
in 1974, through which Ahmadis were declared not-Muslims. This amendment
opened the flood gate of persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan.
Mullas have been holding special Khatme Nabuwwat (end of prophethood)
conferences annually for the last 30 years in Rabwah – the centre of the Ahmadiyya
community in Pakistan, Ahmadis here form more than 95% of the population. Mullas
come from all over to hurl abuses against the residents of the town and the persons
they respect. Every year authorities allow and facilitate this conference in Rabwah
despite request from Ahmadiyya headquarters to disallow this provocative
conference in their home-town. On the other hand when Ahmadisrequest permission
to hold their traditional conference in their own centre, the authorities do not even
acknowledge the receipt of the application.
This year the 30th annual Khatme Nabuwwat (KN) conference was held on September
7, 2017 by the International Khatme Nabuwwat Movement (IKNM). We report its
proceeding below in some useful detail along with essential comments which would
be helpful to a keen analyst to understand the nature of such rallies that are claimed
by their organizers to be perfectly peaceful and lawful, and even blissful spiritually.
There was no surprise this year; as expected the mullas indulged in profuse slander,
lies, deceit, propagation of hate and violence and made demands that blatantly
violated internationally accepted, including Pakistan, norms and statutes of human
rights and religious freedom. This report is primarily based on press reports which
were reproduced from the press-releases of the media section of the conference
management. While most of the Urdu dailies provided plenty of space to these
reports, we have prepared this narrative primarily from the stories given in the daily
Jang, Lahore of September 8 and 9, 2017.
This conference was announced well in advance in the press, and the public
had been urged by some leading mullas to attend in large numbers. The leadership of
the Aalami Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat placed an ad in the daily Jang of
September 7, 2017 urging the ulama and prayer-leaders to address the countrymen
that day to apprise them ‘of the importance and defence of the KN (End of
Prophethood) and Qadianis’ belief system and their apostate activities. Mulla Abdur
Rauf Makki (from Makka, Saudi Arabia) issued a statement that “this conference will
prove to be a huge exposition of Ummah’s unity and will be the last nail in the coffin
of Qadianiat.” (The daily Ausaf; September 7, 2017)
Read further in the PDF file: Anti Ahmadiyya Media Sep-Oct Edition 17
Categories: The Muslim Times