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News ->Pakistani Authorities Obstruct Ahmadi Mission

(6 February 2006)

Lord Avebury, Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Human Rights GroupThe Pakistan Interior Minister today refused to issue visas to human rights researchers in time for a fact finding mission arranged through the Parliamentary Human Rights Group to go ahead. The mission was to have investigated the protection available in Pakistan for members of the Ahmadi community, a religious sect that recently rose to international attention following the October 2005 massacre worshipers in a mosque near Mandi Bahauddin in Punjab.

Lord Avebury, Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group, wrote to the Pakistan High Commission in London on December 22 2005, informing the High Commissioner of the visit, and giving the planned dates of February 3-12. No reply to Lord Avebury’s letter has been received, yet on January 31 the Pakistani Interior Minister told the British High Commission in Islamabad that it was not appropriate for visas to be issued in the first ten days of the month of Muharram (first month of the Hijri Calendar). Whilst no alternative dates for the visit have been suggested by the Pakistani authorities, the group intends to resubmit their application later this month.

The remit of the mission was to have been to establish the reality, for an Ahmadi asylum seeker, of the availability of protection in the Punjabi town of Rabwah (where 95% of the population are Ahmadi) and involved the interviewing of a wide range of sources including the Pakistan authorities. Members of the Ahmadi religious community consider themselves Muslims but do not accept that Muhammad was the last prophet. The Ahmadi sect are rejected by the majority of Muslims as heretics - and particularly so in Pakistan, where they are refused civil rights and persecuted unless they forswear their allegiance.

The outcome of the mission was to have been a short report that would provide independent, sourced and up to date information concerning the current situation in Rabwah so as to assist the Courts in the UK when considering asylum appeals submitted by Pakistani Ahmadis. The members of the mission were to have been Frances Allen and Michael Ellman, immigration practitioners, and Dr Jonathan Ensor, Senior Research Officer at the Immigration Advisory Service.

Lord Avebury said today: “We are very grateful to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for all the help they have given in trying to get this visit off the ground. We all hope that the Pakistani authorities will allow the mission at some point in the future, and I regret that we have not had a direct reply to our original approach more than a month ago, and that no plausible reason has been given for the refusal of the visas on the planned dates.

“In view of the urgent need for better information on the situation in Rabwah in the light of recent developments, the members of the mission will be undertaking a desk study so that clear and up to date information can be provided to immigration judges and practitioners.“


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