Pakistan’s Ahmadis fearful as leaders bow to extremists

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Source: Associated Press

By KATHY GANNON

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s embattled Ahmadiyya minority enjoyed a brief moment of hope earlier this month when one of its own, a U.S.-based Princeton economist, was appointed to an economic advisory council.

But the backlash from Islamic hard-liners, which led newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan to quickly rescind the appointment under political pressure, has only underscored the Ahmadis’ fraught position in the conservative, Muslim-majority country.

Ahmadis believe another Islamic prophet, Ahmad, appeared in the 19th century, a view at odds with the fundamental Islamic principle that Muhammad was the final messenger sent by God. Islamic hard-liners view them as heretics, and have successfully pressured past governments to pass draconian laws against the community. Ahmadis have also long been targeted by Islamic extremists, and are shunned by many mainstream Muslims.

Religious parties have never done well in Pakistan’s elections, and last July’s balloting was no exception. But the ability of hard-line clerics to organize mass rallies and incite violence against political opponents has often forced even liberal governments to bow to their demands.

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