Pakistani Ambassador to U.S. vehemently denied the “state sponsored” persecution of minority Ahmadiyya Muslims on Wednesday. Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhry made the claims while speaking at an event in Washington .D.C.
During the event at the U.S. Institute of Peace Ambassador Chaudhry was questioned by Rabwah Times reporter over Pakistan’s persecution of minority Ahmadiyya Muslims. The journalist pointed out Pakistan’s anti-Ahmadiyya laws which are used to prosecute Muslims for the simple crime of using the universal Islamic greeting of ‘Assalam-o-alaikum’.
Responding to the question Amb. Chaudhry said:
I do not agree with you that there is any state sponsorship of such activity, far from that. all citizens of Pakistan are equal in their rights under the constitution and if any misguided people take law into their hands against any community including Ahmadiyya community they must not do so
And the govt tries and will continue to take every step in that direction, all Pakistanis are worthy of equal respect and that is the position that we have taken and we will continue to pursue that line till we achieve our results in full and to your satisfaction and to the satisfaction of other such minority groups.
Within hours of the Ambassador’s comments, a prominent Ahmadi leader was gunned down in Pakistan.
In 2014 human rights experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council called on Pakistan to adopt urgent measures to stop faith-based killings and ensure the security of the Ahmadiyya Muslims.
In its 2015 annual report, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom called Pakistan’s anti-Ahmadi laws “repressive” and in violation of religious freedoms.
During a February 2016 Parliamentary debate on the persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslims, British MP Siobhan McDonough said:
That state-sponsored persecution has been enshrined in the country’s constitution since 1974. On top of that, Ahmadis are openly declared as “deserving to be killed”, with neither the state nor civic society willing to stand up for them against extremists.
In December 2016 Pakistan raided the headquarters of the minority community and charged 4 community members under anti-terror laws.
Ambassador Chaudhry’s response on Monday echoed Pakistani public’s view of Ahmadis, most of whom consider Ahmadis to be heretics. A 2013 poll showed that 66% of Pakistanis believe that Ahmadis are not Muslims.
Under the anti-Ahmadiyya laws of Pakistan, Ahmadi Muslims face a three-yearr prison sentence for self-identifying as Muslim, reading the Quran, printing its verses in their periodicals, reciting the Islamic Creed (Kalima), identifying their place of worship as a Mosque or saying the Adhan (Islamic call to prayer).