Tragic Killings: Two Members of Pakistan’s Ahmadi Community Shot Dead

Tragedy struck in central Pakistan on Saturday as two members of the Ahmadi community were brutally shot and killed by unknown assailants. The horrifying attacks occurred in the Mandi Bahauddin district of Punjab, the country’s most populous province. The victims, aged 62 and 30, were targeted in separate incidents that have left their community in shock and grief.

Punjab has recently been a hotspot for violence against the Ahmadi community, which has faced relentless persecution in Pakistan. Community leaders and police confirmed the tragic news, with the district police chief announcing that an investigation had been launched and one of the suspected attackers had been apprehended.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for these heinous acts. However, Ahmadi representatives hold Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), a far-right religious political party, accountable for inciting violence against them. TLP leaders frequently use inflammatory anti-Ahmadi rhetoric in their rallies, calling for violence against those they label as blasphemers.

Ahmadis identify as Muslims, but a 1974 decree by the Pakistani parliament declared them non-Muslim. Further amendments in 1984 imposed severe restrictions on the community, prohibiting them from practicing their faith openly or building places of worship. This systemic marginalization and the ongoing incitement to violence have left the Ahmadi community in a constant state of fear and mourning.

The South Asian nation faces harsh criticism for its failure to adequately protect its religious minorities, including Christians. In a recent harrowing incident, a mob of hundreds descended on a Christian settlement in Sargodha, a district in Punjab, violently attacking Nazir Masih, an elderly Christian man in his seventies. Accused of desecrating the Quran, Masih endured a brutal assault that left him with severe injuries, including multiple skull fractures. Tragically, he succumbed to his wounds in the hospital days later. His devastated relatives vehemently denied the blasphemy charges against him, calling them baseless.

This appalling act of violence echoes a dark chapter from August 2023 in Jaranwala city, Punjab, where thousands of Muslim protesters launched a ferocious attack on a Christian community. The chaos saw 21 churches burned and over 90 properties damaged, all triggered by accusations that two Christian brothers had desecrated the Quran.

Blasphemy remains an incendiary issue in Pakistan, where mere allegations can ignite deadly mob violence. Dozens of suspects have been lynched by frenzied crowds, some even while in police custody. The country’s blasphemy laws, which prescribe the death penalty for insulting the Quran or Islamic beliefs, continue to stoke fear and tension, despite no executions having been carried out under these laws. The recurring violence and the government’s inability to safeguard its minority communities cast a long shadow over the nation, highlighting a dire need for reform and protection.

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