UN rights experts raise alarm over spike in Ahmadiyya persecution in Pakistan

    Four UN special rapporteurs sent a letter to the Pakistani government on March 31, expressing concern over the persecution of the minority Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan.

    The rapporteurs who wrote the letter included Fernand de Varennes, the Special Rapporteur on minority issues; Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Margaret Satterthwaite, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; and Nazila Ghanea Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

    The rapporteurs highlighted their concerns over a spike in hate speech and incitement to violence against the Ahmadis between 2022 and early 2023.

    The letter noted that in 2022, a leader of the hardline religio-political party, Tehreek-e Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Muhammad Naeem Chattha Qadri incited physical violence against Ahmadi pregnant women to “make sure that no new Ahmadis are born”.

    During his speech in a location in Mandi Bahauddin, Qadri also said that blasphemers should be decapitated. He was seconded by Syed Muhammad Sibtain Shah Naqvi, the founder and principal of Markaz Imam Bukhari Sargodha, who said that if an Ahmadi’s house was on fire, “one should pour oil on it, rather than water”.

    The UN experts noted that from December 2022, attacks and hate crimes against Ahmadis grew sharply.

    On December 24, 2022, a ‘Khatam-e-Nabuwwat’ WhatsApp group was created, comprising hundreds of members. Similar calls for violence circulated via this WhatsApp Group, including a video calling upon Muslims to “cut the tongue”, “strike down the hand” of Quran desecraters, and to not rest until the last “Qadiani” [pejorative of Ahmadis] was eliminated.

    A series of attacks against Ahmadi places of worship were reported, from December 2022 to date, the letter noted.

    During the night between December 7 and 8, Gujranwala police itself destroyed the minarets of an Ahmadiyya place of worship in Baghanpura, Gujranwala.

    Once again, on January 10, 2023, police knocked down the minarets of a century‑old Ahmadiyya place of worship in Moti Bazaar, Wazirabad.

    These incidents took place after violent statements were made by anti-Ahmadi activists.

    On January 18, 2023, in yet another incident, perpetrators vandalized two minarets of an Ahmadiyya worship place on Martin Road in Karachi. They climbed the minarets using a ladder and smashed to bits the upper part of a minaret with a sledgehammer.

    On January 22, perpetrators desecrated Ahmadiyya graves at 89-GB Ratan in Faisalabad.

    On February 2, a group of anti-Ahmadiyya people destroyed the minarets of the Ahmadiyya Hall built in 1950 in Saddar, Karachi. Around five to 10 miscreants climbed the wall and razed the minarets using a hammer while shouting anti-Ahmadiyya slogans.

    The following day, on February 3, an Ahmadi place of worship was set on fire in the Noor Nagar district of Umerkot. Perpetrators also damaged the minarets of an Ahmadiyya worship place in Goth Chaudhary Javed Ahmed at Goth Ghazi Khan Mirani, in district Mirpurkhas.


    On March 7, the District Bar Council of Gujranwala, Punjab issued a notice that lawyers who wish to be admitted to the bar council must provide an affidavit condemning Mirza Ghulam Ahmed Qadiani, founder of the Ahmadiyya community, as a liar and that his followers were not Muslims despite their self-identification as Muslims.

    The text read: “I am Muslim and have unconditional belief in Khatam-e-Nabuwat and finality of Prophethood of Holy Prophet (PBUH). I do not accept anyone who claims to be a Prophet after the Holy Prophet (PBUH) by amending the known definition of the word, Prophet. I do not accept such claimant of Prophecy as Prophet or Religious Preacher. I do not consider such person Muslim. I consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmed Qadiani, liar (God forbid) and his Lahori and Qadiani followers, non-Muslims.”

    The special rapporteurs severely condemned this act, and expressed concern over the obligation to provide an affidavit declaring oneself Muslim and not accepting other beliefs in order to be qualified to join the bar. They stated that this was a violation of the freedom of religion and the belief of those Ahmadis who sought this membership.

    Moreover, it showed there was a lack of independence of lawyers when it came to practicing their profession without any interference from the state.


    The letter reminded the Pakistani government of the Supreme Court’s suo moto decision of 2014 where it had given eight directives concerning the protection of religious minorities in Pakistan. To this day the directives have not been fully implemented.

    Expressing concern over the multiple incidents of vandalization of Ahmadi religious buildings, the special rapporteurs highlighted that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had issued a decision (PLD 2014 SC 699) guaranteeing the protection of all places of worship. In the decision, it had directed the government to establish a special task force for the protection of places of worship by minorities.

    In this context, the rapporteurs asked the government of Pakistan to provide information on steps taken to prevent incidents of vandalization of minority places of worship buildings, as well as actions taken to maintain a safe environment for the Ahmadi community.

    They also sought information on the efforts being made to implement the Supreme Court’s judgement related to protection of minority places of worship.

    The special rapporteurs have given the Pakistani government 60 days to respond to their concerns before the case is made public at the United Nations.

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