Rights groups decry attacks on Pakistan's minority Ahmadis

Three international human rights groups are denouncing recent violent attacks on Pakistan’s minority Ahmadi community

ISLAMABAD -- Three international human rights groups on Thursday denounced recent attacks on Pakistan's minority Ahmadi community and asked Islamabad to “urgently and impartially investigate a surge" in violence.

The joint appeal from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists came days after a sixteen-year-old Muslim youth opened fire on a group of Ahmadis gathering for worship at a home. The attack killed a doctor, Tahir Mehmood, and wounded three other Ahmadi men, including the doctor’s father.

Mehmood’s family have since gone into hiding for security reasons. The suspected attacker was taken into in police custody.

In Sunday's statement, the three rights groups called on Pakistan to “take appropriate legal action against those responsible for threats and violence against Ahmadis.”

Since July, five members of the Ahmadi community have been killed in separate attacks.

“There are few communities in Pakistan who have suffered as much as the Ahmadis,” said Omar Waraich, head of South Asia at Amnesty International. “The recent wave of killings tragically underscores not just the seriousness of the threats they face, but also the callous indifference of the authorities, who have failed to protect the community or punish the perpetrators."

Ian Seiderman, legal and policy director at the International Commission of Jurists, reminded Prime Minister Imran Khan's government of commitments made in the United Nations General Assembly to actively protect minorities' human rights.

Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch, also called on Pakistan to take “immediate legal and policy measures to eliminate widespread and rampant discrimination and social exclusion" of Ahmadis.

The Ahmadi faith was established on the Indian subcontinent in the 19th century by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, whose followers believe he was a prophet.

Pakistan’s parliament declared Ahmadis non-Muslims in 1974. Since then, Ahmadis have repeatedly been targeted by Islamic extremists in the Muslim-majority nation.

Earlier this month, gunmen shot and killed an 82-year-old Ahmadi man. In October, a Muslim professor shot and killed an Ahmadi professor a day after the two allegedly had a heated discussion over a religious matter.