Pakistan’s persecuted minorities: For Ahmadi refugees in Thailand, problems double back home

Published: July 5, 2011
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A Pakistani refugee who is a member of the Ahmadiyya, an Islamic minority sect, carries his daughter as he is released from a detention centre in Bangkok June 6, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS/ FILE

A Pakistani refugee who is a member of the Ahmadiyya, an Islamic minority sect, carries his daughter as he is released from a detention centre in Bangkok June 6, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS/ FILE

BANGKOK: 

Irfanul Mulk may have been able to find temporary shelter in Thailand, but those who forced him out of Pakistan are now flexing their muscles to bring him back.

Irfan, 27, left his village Taban in Punjab’s Sheikhupura district after he and his two brothers Furqanul Mulk, 21, and Umer Sultan, 31, were held under Pakistan Penal Code’s Section 298-C which prohibits Ahmadis from calling themselves Muslim or “in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims”. A police case was lodged against them but residents refused to calm down, and the three men decided to leave the country.

“When people of the village learnt about our detention and asylum applications, they approached the Sheikhupura District police chief and submitted an application seeking our repatriation to Pakistan calling us traitors who had maligned the country abroad,” Irfan told The Express Tribune.

Since then, the police have raided their home several times and their elder brother Haider Sultan, who stayed back in Pakistan, is facing constant threats.

Representatives of the Tehrik-i-Khatm-i-Nubuwat, an organisation that has repeatedly attacked the Ahmadiyya community for its religious beliefs, have even written to the US Embassy in Pakistan, warning them against giving American nationality to Irfan and his brothers.

But while Irfan and his brothers had to suffer at the hands of their neighbours, there are others who have been persecuted by their own families.

Syed Altaf Hussain Bukhari, the grandson of a renowned pir* whose shrine is located on the outskirts of Islamabad, moved to Thailand in November 2010 with his wife Sadia and their two children. They were forced to flee after his family cut off ties with them for having converted in 1996 to the Ahmadi faith and even subjected him to physical torture.

“When I announced that I was becoming an Ahmadi, my brothers and a cousin, who was the caretaker of the shrine at that point, immediately denounced their relationship with me,” he said. His brothers started telling followers that he was not their real brother as their father had adopted him. Pamphlets bearing his photograph were distributed in Sheikhupura, calling him liable to be murdered.

To protect his wife and children, Altaf, who survived the deadly attacks on Ahmadiyya worship places in Lahore in May 2010, left his ancestral village to move to Sheikhupura and eventually, in 2003, he moved to Lahore where they went into hiding.

Once his people back home learnt that he was seeking asylum in Thailand, they started threatening his father-in-law as well.

Shahid Mehmood, who fled from Multan where he had an established business, said that he had witnessed the beheading of two Ahmadi doctors in March 2009 and insisted on registering an FIR against a pir for instigating his followers to murder Ahmadis. “His followers would visit my shop daily and try to persuade me to withdraw the case,” says Mehmood. “I went to three senior police officers who threw the file in my face and told me that they were followers of [the pir] and could not dare to proceed against him.”

But after another Ahmadi man Rana Ataul Kareem was murdered in August 2009 and the case was traced back to the pir, Mehmood started to receive threats. In September 2010, Mehmood, his wife and four children, arrived in Bangkok.

Back home, Mehmood’s shops have been closed and his house has been sealed.

Many families decided to send younger members abroad while parents stayed back. Aamir Ali, 22, left his village Pasrur in Punjab’s Sialkot district along with his three sisters. But after news of them seeking asylum spread, villagers started to taunt their mother, who has had to regularly switch homes.

*The name of the pir is being withheld on the request of Bukhari.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (45)

  • Shame shame
    Jul 5, 2011 - 10:27AM

    What a shame. No Pak TV channel dare debating on this issue.Recommend

  • M.A.S
    Jul 5, 2011 - 10:47AM

    Whether they are Muslims or not, but they are Pakistanis and they should be protected under the real Islamic law. (i hope we are enlightened enough to understand this). Our mullahs have the stone age mentality and dont accept anything that goes against there shop. They need to be protected as they are our own people, irrespective of there believes and thoughts.. Recommend

  • Alisa
    Jul 5, 2011 - 11:03AM

    We’re a pathetic, illiterate, and unforgivable nation. That’s what we are. And there’s no redemption from where we’re headed! God help us all!Recommend

  • Sad
    Jul 5, 2011 - 11:31AM

    Who is any one to Judge. Live and let live. This is very sad. They are Pakistanis and intolerance in Pakistan’s multi ethnic society should not be tolerated. Recommend

  • sidra imran
    Jul 5, 2011 - 11:35AM

    islamic fascists have ruined jinnah’s country.religion has caused so much pain and suffering in the world that it is a shock that people still cling onto medieval ideologies.so what if the ahmadis believe something different from the mainstream muslims,the ahmadis or anyone else for that matter have a right to believe or not believe whatever they want to,why do our people look to impose their savage rituals and beliefs on others.

    what is needed in our country is secularism.A secular state is a peaceful state where the citizens are not trying to kill each other to prove my prophet is better than your prophet.Recommend

  • fajim khan
    Jul 5, 2011 - 11:39AM

    it is a surprise to me that since the last 30 years lakhs of ahmadis have migrated to the west but still they have failed to get their persecution highlighted in the western media.We know that they won’t get any coverage of the atrocities done to them on our tv channels but why the ahmadis don’t get articles published in newyork times or newsweek is a mystery or proff that the ahmadis once reaching western countries focus entirely on their personal wealth accumulation and don’t make any efforts to raise public awareness of the shocking discrimination they face back in pakistan.

    the overseas ahmadis should take courses in media management in the western countries if they want their conditions to change.Recommend

  • Sarah
    Jul 5, 2011 - 12:19PM

    @Alisa:
    You’re so right. We’re messed up more ways than one.Recommend

  • Frank
    Jul 5, 2011 - 1:36PM

    I know a lot of Ahmedis and I like Ahmedis a lot as whole. They are the masters at getting political asylum in richer countries. This has helped them to win a few converts too, Most of them these days are getting into Canada. I don’t know how this guy ended up in Thailand.Recommend

  • sonam
    Jul 5, 2011 - 1:46PM

    Frank,

    So, what your point ?Recommend

  • Talha
    Jul 5, 2011 - 1:49PM

    @Frank

    Here come Frank who apparently “knows” many Ahmadi’s.

    What he fail to mention is that the countries where Ahmadi’s are based only number into tens of thousands while the total Pakistani diaspora runs into hundreds of thousands to over a million. So his theory does not really hold true, its another one of those comment to discredit Ahmadi’s.

    And I am damn sure you do not know any Ahmadi’s. You only said this here because it could not be verified.Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Jul 5, 2011 - 2:08PM

    So this is what Jinnah had fought for !!! Some freedom he gave these people and the other monorities too, in the Land of Pure !! Every promise made by Jinnah to the minorities has been broken by successive Govts of this Country !!! I wish Jinnah was around to witness this, and perhaps realise as to how flawed his vision was in regards to his little experiment!!!!
    Muslims and other minorieties are not treated in this fashion in today’s India, that is a fact!!!!Recommend

  • Qirat
    Jul 5, 2011 - 2:40PM

    Nations who are not on the ‘straight path’, become insecure, paranoid and intolerant and persecute their minorities; instead of protecting them.Recommend

  • Frank
    Jul 5, 2011 - 2:53PM

    Talha

    And I am damn sure you do not know any
    Ahmadi’s. You only said this here
    because it could not be verified.

    In actual fact one of my Ahmedi friends is married into a very important family in the international Ahmedi community. I don’t want to name him, for obvious reasons. I even share an office with an Ahmedi.. I have put him i touch with another good friend of mine who is a leading figure in the Ahmedi network in the England. They are going to help him to get political asylum the UK. I am not a religious man and I am not a hater.Recommend

  • Frank
    Jul 5, 2011 - 3:03PM

    Sonam

    So, what your point ?

    My point is that the world is much more complex than a Bollywood movie. In real life there are often no ‘good guys’ or ‘bad guys’. There are just ‘guys’, who do what they have to do for their own benefit regardless of how it affects anyone else. But liberals try to make a tear-jerking Bollywood movie out of absolutely everything. Recommend

  • Tony Khan
    Jul 5, 2011 - 3:08PM

    The Ahmadies treatment in Pakistan is similar to the early Christian’s treatment by the Jews and Romans and the treatment of early Muslims by the kuffars.Recommend

  • Jul 5, 2011 - 3:26PM

    We should care about the rules and laws of Jinnah.Unluckily,we lost him in early months after getting the separate homeland.We should secure each citizen as Prophet MUHAMMAD PBUH did in his life.Ahmadi are only those,who live peacefully and turn to GOD in each difficulty as we observed in whole their history in pakistan and every where in the world,,even after the deadly attack on Lahore Mosques.We should discourge catagorically,so called Mullahs,who were against the foundation of Pakistan even and protect each of citizen providing all rights to live.Recommend

  • Talha
    Jul 5, 2011 - 3:26PM

    @Frank

    Ah, so Ahmadi’s are “masters at getting political asylum in richer countries” and you apparently help them get in touch with each other so they can “help him to get political asylum the UK”.

    I don’t understand, if they are masters then why do they need your help. After all if they were that good then you wouldn’t be in the picture.

    Also how come these missed missed these hundred Ahmadi’s who had to flee, I guess they didn’t get in touch with you.

    Recommend

  • nauman
    Jul 5, 2011 - 3:42PM

    @sonam: rich western countries.where is this stuff found.ireland,greece,perhaps iceland,or shall i name a few more IMF clients.by the way uk was bailed out by IMF not so long ago (1970`s).your comments are really fun stuff frank.just one last word Dr Sallam, a nobel award winner and an ahmedi did not take any assylum in italy where in triest there is a chair in the university after his name in the physics dept.cheersRecommend

  • AD
    Jul 5, 2011 - 7:16PM

    Why don’t they come to the nation of all religions INDIA.They are welcome here.Recommend

  • Sohail
    Jul 5, 2011 - 7:20PM

    I guess Non-Muslims should be protected in any country including Pakistan. Islamic laws do apply on those who are Muslims and if they convert to another faith, there are islamic laws on how to deal with that.

    As for the Qadiyanis/Ahmedis, they are already declared Non-Muslims by constitution as well as by all major fiqahs.

    I am concerned about the fact that in Pakistan all minorities are being treated very badly and I know many Ahmedis, Christians who are having troubles in every single day following their faith.

    The real problem is that we do not resolve issues in Pakistan. I think more work is required to be done regarding minorities and also the hatred speeches against different faith needs to be checked and dealt with.

    There are numerous forums on the net which spread hate between Muslims and other religions/faiths and there is no law or system to monitor such activities.Recommend

  • Jul 5, 2011 - 7:31PM

    @fajim khan:
    You are ignorant about the persecution of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan. There have been numerous publications, books, articles in major news papers and all human rights organizations talk about it all the time, starting from 1953 Munir Inquiry Report that is a “bible” or “dummy’s guide to persecution” on this subject.
    If you close your eyes to it, then it does not mean it is not happening. Ahmadi Muslims are all connected and united under one leadership of Khilafat. Those who migrate out of persecuted lands do not forget their brothers and sisters. It is a shameless situation for Pakistan and its leadership that it is not listening to any sane voices from outside or inside and has given free hand to religious mafia.Recommend

  • W.A
    Jul 5, 2011 - 7:51PM

    Ahmadis should be proud of one thing, they are being treated
    just like companions of Holy Prophet s.a.w,s

    by the non believers at that time.
    Recommend

  • Ezekial
    Jul 5, 2011 - 8:20PM

    Shame on Pakistanis who choose to stay silent about black laws and black deeds in the name of Islam!Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Jul 5, 2011 - 10:03PM

    @Ezekial:
    Yes ! but they have become too thick skinned too as well as thick headed!!!
    To notice that they are doing this to their own people, let alone a outsider coming in and abusing them !!!!Recommend

  • Kramer
    Jul 5, 2011 - 11:05PM

    @Frank: They are ‘masters at getting asylums’ because western countries realize the plight of this poor community which has been suffering at the hands of Mullahs for the last 6 decades. Their persecution, discrimination and outright harassment at the hands of their ‘fellow countrymen’ ensures that western [and now some Asian] countries welcome the members of this peaceful community as they will only benefit their adopted countries [economically and socially] without causing too much trouble. Us Pakistani’s have, for too long, discriminated and persecuted all minorities be they religious or ethnic and no nation can prosper without ensuring the rights of the weakest members of society!Recommend

  • Andrea
    Jul 5, 2011 - 11:29PM

    It’s not just Pakistan but all Muslim countries do not accept Ahmadies as Muslims. No one should treat them badly but no Muslim accepts them as Muslims but yes they should be treated fairly as minorities. Saudi Arabia won’t allow in Ahmadies for Haj and Iran also doesn’t believe them to be Muslims.Recommend

  • pappu
    Jul 6, 2011 - 1:05AM

    @Ezekial:
    Did you really forget that even America does not care? They recently held an event for lesbos and gays and even issued a press release. I hope i have written enough to stir your curiosity up.Recommend

  • pappu
    Jul 6, 2011 - 1:08AM

    @AD:
    Yeah. Please take our Ahmedis. We shall also send you free gifts along. In return, send your dallit hindu people to our country. They will surely call Pakistan a heaven. And no, my information is not based on what i read in text books. It is based on feed from electronic media (excluding FOX News and the like).Recommend

  • pappu
    Jul 6, 2011 - 1:12AM

    @W.A:
    How are you so sure about that? And how exactly do you define “non-believers”? Those who dont believe janab Mirza sahab? C’mon. Be honest at least.Recommend

  • pappu
    Jul 6, 2011 - 1:16AM

    I dont know what is so big about the numbers? When you talk about number of Ahmedis out there, does that matter? I am sure that Justin Beiber’s beliebers are more in number than the Ahmedis.Recommend

  • Talha
    Jul 6, 2011 - 3:22AM

    @Andrea

    Thank you for providing us with this elusive and deeply thought out information.

    I don’t believe any Ahmadi ever asked for a certificate from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Iran on being certified as Muslims.

    But thank you anyway and I hope you have all your Muslim certificates from Muslim countries, they are useful in getting an entry into heaven.Recommend

  • AD
    Jul 6, 2011 - 11:53AM

    @pappu:
    Dalits are Hindus and no body tell them they are not Hindus.There is a very rigid caste system in Hinduism and it slowly vanishing.Hinduism has self correction mechanism and everyday new faiths and Gurus are born in it to correct its system.No body prosecute them.
    India is nation of multi faiths like rain forest with different trees.Would you like to live in desert with only cactus around?Recommend

  • makoda
    Jul 6, 2011 - 3:26PM

    @Pappu

    Well, I agree, Indian Society is far from perfect but for sure there is no such religious madness where people are prosecuted, tortured and killed just because they claim themselves to be Hindu/Muslims.

    India, by far, is a much tolerant country.

    Gujarat whose bogey you raise multiple times saw hundreds of muslims participating in this year’s jagannath yatra thus setting an example for communal harmony. Not a single incidence since 2002…Recommend

  • Sohail
    Jul 7, 2011 - 3:53AM

    @W.A:

    Read the history for that claim. But you guys are re-writing your own history and books every single day. Go to any forum and you guys always go zig zag.Recommend

  • Insomniac
    Jul 7, 2011 - 10:45AM

    @W.A:
    Undoubtedly Ahmadi Muslims are on the right side of the history. Each Ahmadi Muslim who is born and raised in Pakistan goes through these discrimination on daily basis. Every Ahmadi can imagine how the companions of our beloved master holy prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (saw) faced those discriminations. Recommend

  • sam
    Jul 7, 2011 - 3:45PM

    @Hedgefunder:
    dont get me started on the plight of minorities in india…

    you worry about your mess wel worry about ours… atleast we the educated people of pakistan think this treatment is unfair.. atleast our media throws light on such issues… thats alot more than what i can say for india.. not a single indian in yet to admit to the flaws in the indian government.. their social and justice system…
    so spare us the lecture unless your willing to own up to your own shortfallsRecommend

  • sam
    Jul 7, 2011 - 4:07PM

    @makoda:
    “Indian Society is far from perfect but for sure there is no such religious madness where people are prosecuted, tortured and killed just because they claim themselves to be Hindu/Muslims”

    ok then what about the following

    2008- anti christian riots in Orissa’s Kandhamal district
    2008-rape of a nun
    2008- riots in Phiringia, Khajuripada, Gochapada and Brahmanigaon
    2007-Incident at Brahmanigaon
    2002 – gujarat riots
    2002 Godhra riots
    1984- anti sikh riots
    1983 – violence in assam (7000 minorities died in 14 days)

    and the list goes on…….. im sure for pakistan it does too.. but atleast were here condemning such things… were here accepting that such is happenning.. you you guys want to preten like everything in india is ‘jolly good”.. who all do you want to sell that tainted picture to?

    not for our sake but for the sake of minorities sufferring in your contries use your time more wisely and help them out rather than pretending that all is well in india and that its SOOOO much better than pakistanRecommend

  • Rock
    Jul 7, 2011 - 4:23PM

    @sam: can a nonmuslim become primeminister of pakistan? If you are claiming India is unsafe for minorities still minorities love India may I know the reason from you? When you talk to any Indian why he\she says proudly about Indian natrionality? Why everyone loves India? what is the missing link? Do the research and let me know…Recommend

  • sam
    Jul 7, 2011 - 4:24PM

    @makoda:

    “Indian Society is far from perfect but for sure there is no such religious madness where people are prosecuted, tortured and killed just because they claim themselves to be Hindu/Muslims”

    ok then what about the following

    2008- anti christian riots in Orissa’s Kandhamal district
    2008-rape of a nun
    2008- riots in Phiringia, Khajuripada, Gochapada and Brahmanigaon
    2007-Incident at Brahmanigaon
    2002 – gujarat riots
    2002 Godhra riots
    1984- anti sikh riots
    1983 -neilli killings in assam

    and the list goes on…….. im sure for pakistan it does too.. but atleast were here condemning such things… were here accepting that such is happenning.. you you guys want to preten like everything in india is ‘jolly good”.. who all do you want to sell that tainted picture to?
    not for our sake but for the sake of minorities sufferring in your contries use your time more wisely and help them out rather than pretending that all is well in india and that its SOOOO much better than pakistanRecommend

  • Rock
    Jul 7, 2011 - 4:26PM

    @sam: Just one question will I able to see nonmuslim as Primeminister or president of pakistan? Indians are far ahead than you when it comes to secularism. Recommend

  • Rock
    Jul 7, 2011 - 4:30PM

    If you talk about Indian muslims then we will talk about the infamous karachi operation by your army against indian migrants. Is it ok?Recommend

  • sam
    Jul 7, 2011 - 4:49PM

    @Rock:

    the answer to ur question is no a non muslim cannot become the president or PM of our country for the simple reason that we want to work within theambit of our constitution as im sure india does as wel….

    as for who loves india.. OMG what is this childs play.. pls argue based on facts i dont mind being proven wrong but argue based on facts..

    are you actually denying that these riots actually took place in india??? ask the families of those whos lives were lost about how much they love india..

    my family was one of the most prestegious muslim families in india but had to leave after partition because of proseqution of muslims.. so save me the lecture wev suffered first hand because of india … having said that im sure shes come a long way but would you pls step out of ur delusion and see thigns for what they are the good and the bad!Recommend

  • Dallas Ali
    Jul 8, 2011 - 4:29AM

    Are there any Muslims left in Pak.?

    God has not sent us to judge others; but rather for us to lead a good life so that God can just us after dooms day.

    They call Ahmadi non-Muslims. Why?

    There is a process going on to call Shia’s as non-Muslims as well! If this process continues that we have Ismailes, Bohri and no telling how many other sects that will be outcasted and banished to live a discriminated life in education, economic opportunities and most important not being able to practice their religion.

    Pakistan needs to move forward and not practice the discrimination process that goes on in Saudi Arabia against people who are any other religion other then the Wahhabi. Exception there is to allow anyone who can step in to save the corrupt leadership, like that happened in in the Gulf War I, when even women drivers were allowed to save the sadistic rulers. Let us learn from more progressive countries like India and US just to name a couple of them.Recommend

  • Makoda
    Jul 8, 2011 - 4:12PM

    @Sam

    First, for your sake, please understand what I am saying. In India, we sure have had riots and I am not defending those either.

    …and mind you, in India, most of the riots have been two sided (am sure you would not want to believe that). Significant people from Majority Religion have also lost their lives. Again, I am not justifying rabid, radical elements within Hindus as well.

    All that I am contesting is that at-least, as a system and constitution, India provides much greater freedom and liberty to its minorities.

    Now, get a bit rational and answer:

    Does India have a government sanctioned law which prosecutes any Non Hindu claiming himself to be Hindu (am referring to your blasphemy law)?

    Are you proud of this law?Recommend

  • sam
    Jul 11, 2011 - 2:02PM

    @Makoda:
    youv got to be kidding me half the riots if not politically motivated are politically backed for coverage…. and not unlike you i ahve the common sense to know a riot requiers there to be aggression from both end.. however minorities will only act as the agressors when theyv been supressed to a certain point.. clearly thats what happens in india..

    also anythign im saying above in based on research done by your people….. only reason why i did that was to prove that there are open minded indians who can see the reality in things rather than making themselves feel better by comparing themselves to others…

    the plight of ahmedis is a serious issue and youv turned into into an ego issue.. pak Vs India issue.. kudos to u my friend kudos to you for your lack of empathy

    Recommend

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