LAHORE: A prominent leader of minority Ahmadi community and relative of Pakistani Nobel laureate Abdus Salam was gunned down here today by Lashkar-e-Jhanghvi militant group which said it had sent another "infidel" to hell.
According to police, popular advocate Malik Saleem Latif and his son advocate Farhan were going to court in Nankana Sahib, some 80 kilometres from Lahore, when unidentified men opened fire on them, killing Saleem on the spot while seriously injuring Farhan. He was taken to local hospital where his condition was stated to be critical. Saleem was the cousin of Nobel laureate scientist Abdus Salam. He was president of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiya Nankana Sahib.
"A special squad of LeJ Riaz Basra Brigade today undertook the nobel cause of sending an infidel (Ahmadi) to hell. Saleem was spreading his sect's message in the area and he was wanted by Mujahideen of LeJ," Ali Bin Sufian, a spokesman of LeJ said on social media. Jamaat-e-Ahmadiya spokesperson Saleemuddin said Saleem was killed for his faith. "Advocate Saleem has been targeted purely for his faith and the government has failed to rein in those elements spreading hate openly against the Ahmadi community," he said and demanded immediate arrest of the culprits.
The killing of Saleem puts the spotlight back on Pakistan's problem of Ahmadi persecution. The issue is deep-rooted and dates back to pre-Partition of India. In 2014, 11 Pakistani members of the Ahmadi community were reportedly murdered. At least six Ahmadis were killed in Pakistan in 2016 for their religious beliefs.
In 1984, Ahmadis were restricted from "misusing" the epithets, descriptions, titles reserved for certain holy personages or places of Islamic origins. They 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.