Hate Watch| Persecution Of Minorities, Violence And Repression Continued During February 2023

Hate Watch| Persecution Of Minorities, Violence And Repression Continued During February 2023
Brutalities directed towards religious, sexual, gender and ethnic minorities were reported from across Pakistan in February. The coordinated campaign against the beleaguered Ahmadi community further escalated this month. Transgender people and women were assaulted, and more enforced disappearances of the Baloch and Sindhis were documented. A fact-finding mission of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan found Gujranwala and Wazirabad district administrations to be complicit in targeting Ahmadis in December and January.

Persecution of religious minorities and religiously motivated violence

In the second month of 2023, eight incidents of violation and abuses directed at Ahmadis occurred, including a murder. In the Sadar area of Karachi, on February 2, unidentified men who appeared to be supporters of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik-Pakistan (TLP) vandalized an Ahmadi worship place by the name of Ahmadiyya Hall. A video of the attack shows a raging mob chanting Khatm-e-Nabuwwat slogans, followed by TLP’s rallying cry calling for execution of blasphemers of (all) prophets. The TLP supporters also harassed two Ahmadi men in Kasur. In a video, a group barred two men from offering prayers at the community’s worship place, and told one member that he was not allowed to keep the name Ahmad. This was followed by TLP’s Labbaik chants and calls for execution of Ahmadis. Four police personnel are also seen in the video attempting to mildly disperse the group of harassers. As a retaliation for the Quran burning in Europe, members of TLP burnt down the country’s flag and desecrated the image of the cross per media reports. Christian activists condemned the incident in Europe and asked for the sentiments of Pakistani Christians to be respected.

24 hours after the hate crime in Karachi, another worship place for the community in Mirpur Khas and Umar Kot. In Noor Nagar area of Umar Kot, an arson attempt resulted in the burning down of chairs and prayers mat of the worship place. The community reports men climbed over the wall of the property and used petrol for setting belongings on fire. The same night in Goth Chauhdry Javed Ahmad Mirpur Khas, minarets of the community’s worship place were desecrated. On February 4, in Satellite Town Mirpur Khas, an Ahmadi worship place was fired at indiscriminately. Ahmadi graves were desecrated in Talwandi Khajoorwali area of district Gujranwala on February 10. Hours before the graves were desecrated, sacred Islamic terms on the facade of an Ahmadi owned store were removed via an act of vandalism, also in the Talwandi Khajoorwali area. In the past, incidents of erasure of religious scriptures from facades of shops or name plates of residences have followed up by extreme violence against the persecuted group. In Goteriala, Gujrat, a Norwegian-Pakistan man of the Ahmadiyya community was shot dead by a young man who then took his own life on February 19. Two men were named in the FIR. Police gave conflicting statements about the motive of the murder but the community reiterated it appeared to be a faith-based killing.

In Warburton Nanakana Sahib, on February 11, a raging mob attacked a police station and lynched a man to death on suspicions of blasphemy. The victim was forcibly removed from the police station’s premises. A group of men inciting violence can be seen carrying evidence of blasphemy and chanting slogans for Khatm-e-Nabuwwat. Children of the area were also part of the mob which damaged the police station’s property.

Gender-based violence

At least three incidents of heinous sexual assault were reported widely in February. A bus hostess was violated in Vehari by the guard of the same vehicle. While in Islamabad, two men raped a young woman in F9 park at gun point. In a statement to authorities, the survivor said the perpetrators castigated her for visiting the park at night. This brutality came at an extreme shock to citizens as the park is public and frequented by residents of the capital. A group of young men sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl in Karachi’s Baldia Town. In the remit of the Kirpa police station of Islamabad, another gang-rape of a woman was reported. At the beginning of the month, a Muslim man threw acid on the face of a Christian teenager who was also a provider for her family. The survivor’s family stated she refused the perpetrator’s advances, and he had been harassing her prior to the assault.

A man killed one transgender person and injured another in Mingora, Swat. Another transgender was found dead in Rawalpindi’s Sadiqabad area. Two women were killed in separate incidents in Kahuta and Rawalpindi. Another woman was reported to have been injured in a clash over land dispute per the media.


The systemic repression of the Baloch citizens continued in February. The VBMP — Voice of Baloch Missing Persons - documented 28 enforced disappearances of Baloch men. This includes two women, Rasheeda Zehri and Mahal Baloch. Zehri was forcibly picked up with her husband Raheem Zehri on February 4 and released after ten days. Her husband has not been released yet. Zehri has moved out of her residence in Quetta due to harassment of security forces and fear for her security. Mahal Baloch, a widow and mother of two was reported to have been forcibly disappeared on the night of February 17. After a short-term disappearance, she was produced before the court by the Counter-Terrorism Department and an FIR on terrorism charges was filed against her. She is currently on remand. The Sindhi missing persons collective documented enforced disappearances of four men.

Syed Fawad Ali Shah, a journalist forcibly disappeared while in exile as a refugee registered with the UNHCR since August 2022 was transferred to Adiala Jail. He is currently in Peshawar Central Jail for bailable charges in a PECA case.

The writer is a multimedia journalist and researches human rights abuses. She hosts a show on social justice stories on Naya Daur TV.