A prominent local leader of the Ahmadi community and a relative of Nobel laureate Abdus Salam was gunned down in Nankana Sahib on Thursday morning, police said.
Advocate Malik Saleem Latif, a leader of the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiya in Nankana Sahib, was on his way to a local court on a motorbike along with his son Advocate Farhan, when Latif was targeted and shot at by “unidentified attackers”.
Latif’s son informed Dawn that the attackers had fired at them from behind.
A district police officer said that a suspect had been identified and police are narrowing their leads in the case. He refused to disclose further information for the time being.
‘No check on hate-mongering’
The murder sparked outrage in the Ahmadi community. Saleem Uddin, a spokesman for the community, said the incident shows that ongoing military operations Zarb-i-Azb and Raddul Fasad are not being implemented the way they should be.
“Around 1,700 advertisements were published against the Ahmadiya community in local and national newspapers in 2016,” said Saleem. “There is no check on hate mongering and if the situation remains the same then the killing of Ahmadis will also continue,” he added.
Saleem said the community is battling discriminatory laws in the country and expressed frustration that hate mongers are enjoying the support of the government.
The killing of the lawyer today puts the spotlight back on Pakistan’s problem of Ahmadi persecution. The issue is deep-rooted and dates back to pre-Partition India.
The mistreatment of and mainstream bias against the community is one of the main reasons that Pakistan’s first Nobel laureate, Dr Abdus Salam, fled the country to reside in the United Kingdom.
Although Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently made the ‘bold gesture’ to rename Quaid-i-Azam University’s (QAU) physics department after Professor Abdus Salam, the community still greatly suffers at the hands of extremists.
Ahmadis are often subjected to humiliation and harassment in educational institutions and the workplace and in the media. Despite the passage of several hours, Latif’s murder has not been reported in mainstream electronic media.
A history of persecution
- In December, a charged mob of around 1,000 people had besieged an Ahmadi place of worship in Chakwal. Two people were reportedly killed and one injured in the attack.
- In 2015, an enraged mob had set an Ahmadi place of worship on fire in Punjab’s Jhelum district.
- In 2014, 11 Pakistani members of the Ahmadi minority were reportedly murdered.
- In 2013, seven members of the community were killed.
- In 2012, 19 members of the community were murdered over the year.
- In 2010, militants had attacked two Ahmadi places of worship during the Friday prayer service. According to government officials, the death toll was 80, but the community spokesman put the toll at 95.
- In 2008, two leading members of the Ahmadi community were gunned down.
- In 2005, eight people were killed and 18 others injured when three men on motorbikes opened fire on them as they were offering prayers. In the same year, all Ahmadi students were expelled from a medical college in Faisalabad.
- In 2000, unidentified gunmen opened fire during prayers, killing five worshippers and injuring several others.
- In 1995, two members of the community were stoned — one of whom died — in Peshawar.
- In 1984, Ahmadis were restricted from ‘misusing’ the epithets, descriptions, titles, etc reserved for certain holy personages or places of Islamic origins. Ahmadis could not call themselves Muslim or propagate their faith.
- In 1974, the then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s regime amended the constitution to include the definition of a Muslim and listed groups that were consider non-Muslim.