In Ahmadis’s desert city, Pakistan closes in on group it declared non-Muslim

July 15, 2011

(Ahmadis stand over graves of victims of an attack on one of their mosques, in Rabwah, May 29, 2010/Stringer)

At the office of what claims to be one of Pakistan’s oldest newspapers, workers scan copy for words it is not allowed to use — words like Muslim and Islam. “The government is constantly monitoring this publication to make sure none of these words are published,” explains our guide during a visit to the offices of al Fazl, the newspaper of the Ahmadiyya sect in Pakistan.

This is Rabwah, the town the Ahmadis built when they fled the killings of Muslims in India at Partition in 1947, and believing themselves guided by God, chose a barren stretch of land where they hoped to make the Punjab desert bloom. Affluent and well-educated, they started out camping in tents and mud huts near the river and the railway line. Now they have a town of some 60,000 people, a jumble of one- and two-storey buildings, along with an Olympic size swimming pool, a fire service and a world class heart institute.

Yet declared by the state in the 1970s to be non-Muslims, they face increasing threats of violence across Pakistan as the country strained by a weakening economy, an Islamist insurgency and internecine political feuds, fractures down sectarian and ethnic lines.

“The situation is getting worse and worse,” says Mirza Khurshid Ahmed, amir of the Ahmadi community in Pakistan. “The level of religious intolerance has increased considerably during the last 10 years.”

The town, renamed Chenabnagar by the state government since “Rabwah” comes from a verse in the Koran, is now retreating behind high walls and razor wire, awaiting the suicide bombers and fedayeen gunmen who police tell them are plotting attacks. Last May, 86 people were killed in two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore, capital of Punjab; others were attacked elsewhere in the province. Many fled to Rabwah where the community gives them cheap housing and financial support.

Read the full story here.


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My Sikh community was driven out of Pakistan during partition. Muslims attacked Hindus and Sikhs and vice versa. I am glad today that our community was driven out. I’d say Hindus are better of the two evils. Had Muslims targeted Hindus only, most of our community would have spread across India and Pakistan. And based on what I am observing, we could have become target of Islamic fanatics just like the Shias and Ahmadis in Pakistan. Violence would have been postponed by about six decades. Violence against minorities is a global problem. It has not disappeared even in advanced and “modern” nations. Indians in Australia or Fiji can vouch for that. There is no minority-stan in this world.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

All kind of self serving comments do not have a purpose.
The ideas, of hero and villain only exists in movies, not in real life, barring exceptions.
Almost 95 percent of refugees traveled into Pakistan from east, and millions of refugees lost their lives on their way. Relatively, as smaller number of refugees traveled into India, which makes their killing a lower statistical probability. It is logical.
Also, when ever we have military operating in cities, the civilians die. It has happened in Kashmir & Manipur, still happening, and more than hundred thousands have been killed in both places. This is also logical.
By the same token military have been operating against people in Swat, Waziristan, FATA, in search of terrorists, and that has caused killing of thousands of civilians. And I blame Paksitani government for that. Again, this is logical.
We should never bring in emotions, and not take sides, just speak the truth.

Posted by GoodDeedsLeadTo | Report as abusive

Majority of the refugees into Paiksitan in 1947,and were attacked during the journey, and lost their lives. Relatively, very few traveled into India, accordingly, their casualties have been smaller relatively.

Posted by GoodDeedsLeadTo | Report as abusive

Great Story

Posted by Schoudhry | Report as abusive

Its very unfortunate to see the ongoing/ repetitive propaganda against the religion of peace. The purpose of these propaganda is to create a perception that is anti- islamic and hence anti-peace. I am not sure about other religions but Islam is the religion that promotes the “rights of minorities.” The era of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (MPBUH) and that of the four caliphates is an ideal example. The purpose of any Anti Islamic document may be varied and unknown but all of these artificial and self created facts fade away as one observe its fame and acceptance rate in the entire world. The acceptance rate of Islam is far greater then any other religion. According to the teachings of Holy Book (Quran). Killing a single person is equal to killing the entire humanity, and killing of any sort is prohibited in Islam. hence the attacks on Ahmedis or any other sect is disappointing. But it should be remember that these sects are causing a great harm to the status of Islam by adding new flavors and concepts to its eternal and moral preachings, which is nor allowed in Islam.

Posted by hasnainrazzaq | Report as abusive

Islam is intolerant to criticism and this has been demonstrated time and time again throughout history. It is most evident in the recent past as demonstrated by fatwa’s against the Danish cartoonist who drew your mighty prophet followed by attempts on his life by peace-loving Muslims. The “religion of peace” is responsible for virtually all terrorist attacks of today.

Even the most tolerant countries like Sweden and Denmark are realizing that Islamists will not treat them like in the same inviting and accepting manner that they have been accepted into western society.

Most immigrants are grateful for having the privilege of being accepted into such a society, but the Islamists turn back and join jihadists, donate money to their causes and further the destruction of the very countries that took them in. It is time to stop immigration of Islamists.

Their hypocrisy of peace has been evident for centuries but they still continue to insist that they are peace-loving.

Posted by 3sCompany | Report as abusive