Reply from the UK Government
The Lord Alton of Liverpool
House of Lords
29 October 2020
Thank you for your correspondence of 13 October about the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Pakistan, and for sharing the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK’s incident reports. I am replying as the Minister for South Asia and Minister responsible for Human Rights.
We are closely monitoring the cases and incidents your correspondence highlights. We are deeply concerned and saddened by the murders of Tahir Ahmad Nassem on 29 July, Meraj Ahmed on 12 August and Dr Naeem Uddin Khattak on 5 October in Peshawar. The UK Government remains deeply concerned by reports of discrimination and violence against religious communities in Pakistan, including against the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. As you know, I spoke at the launch event of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK’s Report on 21 July and expressed this concern.
We regularly raise at a senior level the issue of the blasphemy laws with the authorities in Pakistan. In Pakistan and elsewhere these laws have targeted Muslims and non-Muslims. The UK’s position on the death penalty is well known – we are firmly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances.
We urge the Government of Pakistan at senior levels to guarantee the fundamental rights of all its citizens, regardless of their belief. On 27 August, I raised our concerns regarding Freedom of Religion of Belief and the protection of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Pakistan, including the murders of Meraj Ahmed and Tahir Ahmad Nassem, with Pakistan’s Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari. On 19 October, I raised our concerns regarding Freedom of Religion and Belief in Pakistan, including the issue of blasphemy legislation and the importance of the safety and security of those involved in blasphemy cases, with Dr Mazari. Furthermore, I met with Pakistan’s Minister for Education, Mr Shafqat Mahmood, and on 8 September with the Governor of Punjab, Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, to discuss inclusive and tolerant education.
We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to guarantee the fundamental rights of all its citizens, in accordance with international standards. It is vital that Pakistan guarantees the rights of all its citizens, regardless of gender, ethnicity or belief.
LORD (TARIQ) AHMAD OF WIMBLEDON
Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth
Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict