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So Then, Is Sri Lanka Firmly On Path Towards Dynastic Rule?

The Rajapaksa family’s hold on the Government is much stronger after the Parliamentary Elections.



The Mahinda Rajapaksa-led Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP, Sri Lanka People’s Front) has swept the August 5, 2020, Parliamentary Elections. SLPP received 6,853,693 votes (59.09 percent) and secured 128 electoral seats. The Sajith Premadasa-led Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB, United National Power), the breakaway faction of the former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe-led United National Party (UNP), came in second with 2,771,984 votes (23.90 per cent) wining 47 electoral seats.

The Anura Kumara Dissanayake-led Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB, National People’s Power) got 445,958 votes (3.84 per cent) winning two electoral seats.

The Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK), the main constituent party of Tamil National Alliance (TNA), got 327,168 votes (2.82 per cent) winning nine electoral seats. The UNP came at a distant fifth place receiving only 249,435 votes (2.15 per cent) and it failed to secure even a single electoral seat. Former Prime Minister Wickremesinghe himself lost the election.

The Ahila Ilankai Thamil Congress got 67,766 votes (0.58 per cent) and one seat; Our Power of People Party got 67,758 votes (0.58 per cent) but failed to secure even a single electoral seat; Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal, 67,692 votes (0.58 per cent), one seat; Sri Lanka Freedom Party, 66,579 votes (0.57 per cent), one seat; Eelam People’s Democratic Party, 61,464 votes (0.53 per cent), two seats; Muslim National Alliance got 55,981 votes (0.48 per cent), one seat, Thamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani, 51,301 votes (0.44 per cent), one seat; All Ceylon Makkal Congress, 43,319 votes  (0.37 per cent), one seat; National Congress, 39,272 votes (0.34 per cent), one seat; and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, 34,428 votes (0.30 per cent), one seat.

On August 5, 2020, Sri Lanka’s 9th Parliamentary Elections were held at 12,985 polling stations across the country under strict health guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Election Commission (EC), 71 per cent of eligible voters out of 16,263,885 voters cast their ballot to elect 196 lawmakers. A total of 7,452 candidates from 40 recognized political parties and 313 independent groups contested the election.

The 225-member Parliament has 196 elected members and 29 members are elected from a national list according to the number of votes received by the respective parties or independent groups. According to the August 5 results, out of the 29 national list seats, SLPP gets 17; SJB, 7; JJB, ITAK, UNP, Ahila Ilankai Thamil Congress and Our Power of People Party, one seat each.

The Director of the Police Elections Division Senior Superintendent of Police Ashoka Dharmasena, at a special media briefing, stated that the election was held peacefully. However, according to Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), an independent non-partisan organization, 340 incidents of election-related violations, including 63 incidents of intimidation/assault/influencing, were reported on Election Day.

Between March 2 (the day of the dissolution of the 8th Parliament) and August 2, 2020, (the day the ‘silent period’, with no canvassing or political activity preceding the General Election, came into effect), the CMEV reported 1,101 incidents of election-related violations, including 55 incidents of assault/threats/hate speech. CMEV did not report any incident of election-related violations on August 3 and 4.

However, Sri Lanka’s oldest election monitoring group, the People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), reported 37 incidents of election-related violations, including two assault incidents on August 3; and 120 incidents of election-related violations, including two assault incidents and one incident of attack on Political Party/Candidate Office on August 4.

In the last Parliamentary Elections held on August 17, 2015, the voter turnout was 77.66 per cent. However, the voters gave a fractured mandate, with none of the parties securing a simple majority. UNP, led by the then incumbent Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, secured 106 seats, falling seven short of a simple majority in a 225-member House; the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) secured just 95 seats. The main Tamil political party, the TNA won 16 seats; and the main Marxist party, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP, People’s Liberation Front) won six.

However, following a historic agreement on August 20, 2015, between UNP and SLFP to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the incumbent Prime Minister Wickremesinghe took the oath as the 26thPrime Minister of the island nation on August 21, 2015.

According to CMEV, between June 26, 2015, midnight, when the elections were notified, and August 14, 2015, when the campaigning officially ended, it registered 143 ‘major incidents’ across the country. ‘Major incidents’ included murder, injuries, assaults, threat and intimidation, misuse of state resources, robbery, arson, abduction, damage to property, etc.

However, in a political slugfest, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sacked on October 26, 2018, and Mahinda Rajapaksa became the Prime Minister. Ranil Wickremesinghe was sacked by Maithripala Sirisena, who became President after winning the Presidential Elections held on January 8, 2015, defeating the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa.

President Sirisena, realizing that his de facto Prime Minister, Rajapaksa, would not command a majority in Parliament, announced the dissolution of Parliament with effect from November 9, midnight, in an extraordinary Gazette notification, and scheduled General Elections to be held on January 5, 2019.

However, exactly 34 days later, on December 13, 2018, the Supreme Court (SC) of Sri Lanka ruled, that President Sirisena’s decision was illegal and unconstitutional. After the SC ruling, UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn-in on December 16, 2018, for a fifth time, as the Prime Minister, ending a nearly two-month-long political crisis. However, his Government did not last long, and Mahinda Rajapaksa became the Prime Minister again on November 21, 2019.

The five-year term of the 8thParliament was due to expire in August 2020. Paving the way for General Elections, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is Mahinda Rajapaksa’s younger brother, who won the Presidential Election, held on November 16, 2019, on the SLPP ticket. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa dissolved the eight Parliament on March 2, 2020. According to the Gazette Notification, the Parliamentary Elections were to be held on April 25, 2020, and the new Parliament was to meet on May 14, 2020.

However, considering the uncertain situation prevalent in the country with the spread of COVID-19, on March 19, 2020, the EC postponed the General Election indefinitely. However, on April 20, 2020, the EC decided to hold the Parliamentary Elections on June 20, 2020.

Meanwhile, several Fundamental Rights petitions were filed in the Supreme Court requesting the court to issue an injunction against holding the General Elections on June 20. On June 1, 2020, the Supreme Court dismissed the Fundamental Rights petitions filed challenging the holding of the General Election on June 20.

Pronouncing the ruling, the Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya announced “By majority decision, preliminary objections are overruled. By unanimous decision, Leave to Proceed is refused for all applications.”

On June 3, 2020, the Health Ministry handed over health guidelines in connection with holding the General Election to the EC. Finally, following several rounds of discussions with the Health and Security authorities and other stakeholders, on June 10, 2020, the EC announced that the General Election 2020 would be held on August 5, 2020.

With the SLPP winning 145 seats, just five short of a 2/3rd majority, there is a strong probability of the Government overturning several of the decisions taken by the Ranil Wickremesinghe-led National Unity Government.

The focus is on the 19th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, which the party has promised to scrap. Significantly, speaking about the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on December 29, 2019, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa observed,

All of you know that there is a massive crisis in governing the state because of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution done by the previous regime. We have to remove this now. For that, we are in need of a strong Parliament.

On March 5, 2020, President Gotabaya called for a two-third majority in the Parliamentary Election, declaring that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution had taken away the people’s freedom and questioned the meaning of the Constitution, as it circumscribed the powers of the President elected by the people. The 19th Amendment reduced the presidential term from six to five years and the two-term limit was restored. The President could no longer dissolve Parliament until the expiration of four and a half years of its term unless he was requested to do so by a resolution of a two-thirds majority of Parliament. Moreover, the presidential immunity from suit was abridged by extending the Supreme Court’s fundamental rights jurisdiction to cover official acts of the President. Meanwhile, on July 31, 2020, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa asserted,

The Yahapalana Government (National Unity Government) introduced the 19A mainly to violate the fundamental rights of the Rajapaksas. Though this was the main intention, it has also violated the rights of the people. Even amid all obstacles and to the dismay of the previous government, 6.9 million people elected Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the President thus approving his programme for the country.

The 19th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution was passed by the Ranil Wickremesinghe-led Government on April 28, 2015, with 215 out of 225 members voting in favour of the amendment to weaken the power of the presidency.

The 19th Amendment envisaged the dilution of many powers of the Executive Presidency, which had been in force since 1978. It established a Constitutional Council which exercises some executive powers previously held by the President. It also empowered the Constitutional Council to set up Independent Commissions.

Meanwhile, on January 7, 2020, an official attached to the Justice Ministry disclosed that the Government has decided to review the Office of Missing Person (OMP) Act enacted by Parliament under the preceding regime. The official further stated that a preliminary discussion has already been held and that the Government would review it and decide what needs to be done. OMP was operationalized on March 13, 2018, with the mandate to search for and trace the fate and whereabouts of missing and disappeared persons during the Eelam War between the Government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which officially ended on May 20, 2009.

Earlier, on February 17, 2020, the Rajapaksa Government decided to immediately withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolutions 30/1 and 40/1 co-sponsored in 2015 and 2019. In 2015, the Ranil Wickremesinghe-led Government had co-sponsored the UNHRC resolution, 30/1, making commitments to promote reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka. Renewing the commitments, in 2019, the Ranil Wickremesinghe-led National Unity Government (NUG) co-sponsored UNHRC resolution, 40/1.

The Rajapaksa family’s hold on the Government is much stronger after the Parliamentary Elections. Under Mahinda Rajapaksa’s previous tenure as President (2005-2015), many members of the family occupied senior positions in the Sri Lankan state. The sweeping majority that Mahinda Rajapaksa has now secured in the Parliamentary elections, even as Gotabaya Rajapaksa is President, suggests the possibilities of a consolidating autocracy.

On August 9, 2020, Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn as Prime Minister for the fourth time by his younger brother and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The Ranil Wickremesinghe Government had sought to further the national reconciliation process, though it failed to achieve much of significance. This process is now likely to suffer a major setback.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this article are strictly the personal opinions of the author. League of India does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

Published with permission from South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

S. Binodkumar Singh

Dr S. Binodkumar is a Research Associate at the Institute for Conflict Management. He has done his PhD on "Indo-Bangladesh Relations: Their Impact on the Security of the North East" from the Department of Defence and National Security Studies at Punjab University, Chandigarh.

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Rohingya Slugfest At Bangladesh-Myanmar Border?

Bangladesh is currently hosting 1.1 million Rohingya refugees, who have fled from their native Rakhine State of Myanmar, in different batches.



On October 6, 2020, four people were killed in clashes between two groups of Rohingyas over establishing supremacy at the Lombasia Camp in the Kutupalang area of Cox’s Bazar District. 20 persons were injured in those violent clashes.

On October 4, 2020, two Rohingyas were killed in a gunfight between two rival groups at a refugee camp in the Ukhia area of Cox’s Bazar District. The gunfight erupted between two groups of Rohingya criminals asserting dominance.

On October 2, 2020, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) discovered and neutralized a firearms-making factory at Madhurchhara, adjacent to the Kutupalang Rohingya Camp in Cox’s Bazar District. Two persons identified as Abu Majid and Robi Alam were arrested. RAB recovered two guns, two bullets and several pieces of equipment used for manufacturing firearms from a hut set up by the arrestees. According to RAB officials, the duo had been making and supplying firearms to Rohingya criminals for a long time.

Available data shows that at least 178 cases have been filed against the Rohingyas between January and July 2020, in which 442 Rohingyas have been arrested. 263 cases were registered through 2019 and 649 Rohingyas were arrested. In 2018, the numbers stood at 208 cases and 414 arrests.

The crimes these displaced people are involved in include possession of illegal arms and drugs, robbery, abduction, smuggling, murder, and human trafficking.

Media reports indicate that extremist groups are trying to take over these camps. Deutsche Welle, a German news agency, reported on February 13, 2020, that 40 Rohingyas in a Cox’s Bazar camp were trained by the Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) in January 2020. The JMB trained these Rohingyas with help from Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, from where USD 117,000 was received by JMB for this purpose. The report also revealed that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was among those behind the training.

Siegfried O. Wolf, an analyst at the South Asia Democratic Forum, a Belgian-based group based in Brussels, later confirmed the possible involvement of ISI. He said the ISI’s main goal was to destabilize some countries in the region, with Afghanistan and India at the top of their list.

Reports also indicate that the Myanmar-based Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) has made deep inroads in these camps. The International Crisis Group (ICG) report “Building a Better Future for Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh” released on April 25, 2019, claimed ARSA militants and gangs mostly controlled the camps and often committed violence against the residents.

Separately, the Deutsche Welle on September 24, 2019, reported that a man claiming to be an ARSA cadre told Deutsche Welle that some 3,500 fighters were sheltering in the refugee camps in Bangladesh and that groups of several hundred fighters secretly crossed to neighbouring Myanmar for military training.

There are apprehensions that these terrorist groups may take advantage of the rising tension between the host community and the refugees, which has reportedly reached an alarming level. Overcrowding in refugee camps has led to encroachment of forests and decreasing opportunities for the host community.

Bangladesh is currently hosting 1.1 million Rohingya refugees, who have fled from their native Rakhine State of Myanmar, in different batches.

The first batch of Rohingyas came in 1977 when an estimated 300,000 Rohingya fled persecution by the Myanmarese Army in the Rakhine region. More recently, an estimated 730,000 Rohingyas came to Bangladesh in 2017. The exodus followed massive clearance operation by Myanmar’s State Forces subsequent to ARSA’s attacks against Police posts in the northern Rakhine State. According to Ontario International Development Agency, nearly 24,000 Rohingya were killed, more than 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down while 113,000 others were vandalised by Myanmar’s state forces.

According to the UN Report of the Independent International Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar released on September 12, 2018, the “clearance operations” constituted a human rights catastrophe. Mass killings were perpetrated in Min Gyi (Tula Toli), Maung Nu, Chut Pyin and Gudar Pyin, and in villages in the Koe Tan Kauk village tract. In some cases, hundreds of people died.

The Rohingya crisis is no longer just a humanitarian calamity but has transformed into a potential threat to Bangladesh’s internal stability. On November 11, 2019, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, addressing the three-day ‘Dhaka Global Dialogue-2019’ in Dhaka city, observed:

“In terms of regional security, I would like to say that more than 1.1 million Rohingya citizens of Myanmar fled to Bangladesh in the face of persecution and they are a threat to the security not only for Bangladesh but also for the region. I urge the world community to take appropriate action realising the gravity of the threat. It will not be possible to ensure development and prosperity of any country without having peace and safety.”

On September 12, 2020, raising fears that if the Rohingya problem is not solved quickly, it may lead to radicalism and terrorism, Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.K. Momen noted, “Our fear is that, if this problem is not solved quickly, it may lead to pockets of radicalism and since terrorists have no borders, no faith, there’s a high possibility of creation of uncertainty in the region which may frustrate our hope for a peaceful, secure and stable region.”

Not surprisingly, Bangladesh has, for long, been trying to repatriate these Rohingyas. According to a bilateral instrument signed by Bangladesh and Myanmar on November 23, 2017, the repatriation of the Rohingya was supposed to begin from January 22, 2018, and to be complete by January 22, 2020. But, not a single Rohingya has yet been repatriated.

So far, two repatriation attempts, on November 15, 2018, and August 22, 2019, did not materialize due to Myanmar’s failure to create the necessary conditions for the return of its own people.

Indeed, urging the global community to play a more ‘effective role’ in finding a solution for the Rohingya problem, Prime Minister Hasina, in a pre-recorded speech to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 26, 2020, stated:

“More than three years have elapsed. Regrettably, not a single Rohingya could be repatriated. The problem was created by Myanmar, and its solution must be found in Myanmar. I request the international community to play a more effective role for a solution to the crisis.”

Meanwhile, there are reports of rising tension at the International Border between Bangladesh and Myanmar, directly linked to the Rohingya issue. Bangladeshi has deployed Army troops in Cox’s Bazar District in southeastern Bangladesh along Myanmar’s border. Similarly, Myanmar’s military has recently beefed up security along the border, citing increased activities by ARSA and the Arakan Army.

The Rohingya crisis has created challenges for Bangladesh as the tension between the host communities and the Rohingyas increases. Moreover, the issue has created tensions between Bangladesh and Myanmar as well. While support from numerous humanitarian actors has so far kept the refugees alive, these tensions may soon translate into explicit conflict.

Unless the crisis is resolved, the ‘Rohingya problem’ may morph into an issue of global security at large, and a crisis for Bangladesh in particular.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this article are strictly the personal opinions of the author. League of India does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

Published with permission from South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

S. Binodkumar Singh

Dr S. Binodkumar is a Research Associate at the Institute for Conflict Management. He has done his PhD on "Indo-Bangladesh Relations: Their Impact on the Security of the North East" from the Department of Defence and National Security Studies at Punjab University, Chandigarh.

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Maldives’ DDC Struggling With Prosecutions

The capacities and capabilities of the Maldivian Security Forces need a boost.



On August 8, 2020, Maldives’ Disappearances and Death Commission (DDC) announced that it is going to hire a foreign expert to assist it in completing its investigations by September 2020.

Earlier, on December 8, 2019, the President of DDC, Uz. Husnu Al Suood, resigned from the Presidential Commission after his nomination to the Supreme Court as a Judge.

A December 12, 2019, report mentions President’s spokesperson Ibrahim Hood saying that President’s Office was working on a replacement for Uz. Husnu Al Suood. However, no further updates are available.

Another member, Adam Ibrahim, also resigned, citing ‘personal reasons’.  DDC has just three members left, Misbah Abbas, Ahmed Nashid and Fareesha Abdulla.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had announced the establishment of the DDC on November 18, 2018. The Commission commenced its work officially on November 21, 2018, with a two-year deadline to investigate 27 cases of Disappearances and Death. On September 1, 2019, DDC revealed that, of the 27 cases being investigated, only 4 or 5 were ‘currently pending’. Three of these were ‘interlinked’ cases, involving al Qaeda. These included:

Recovery of the dead body of Dr Afrasheem Ali bearing multiple stab wounds. The body was discovered in the stairwell of his home in Male in the early hours of October 1, 2012.
Status: Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office has ordered the DDC to resubmit the charges against the accused.

The disappearance of Journalist Ahmed Rilwan: Ahmed Rilwan (28), a journalist with now discontinued Maldives Independent, was last seen on August 8, 2014.
Status: The case has yet to reach trial phase. The DDC on December 3, 2019, said that the case was forwarded to the Prosecutor General’s Office, to press charges against Mohamed Mazeed and Smith Mohamed, suspected of masterminding Rilwan’s enforced disappearance. Subsequently, the Prosecutor General’s Office had rejected the case over procedural issues, and no charges were pressed against any suspects.

The killing of Blogger Yameen Rasheed: A local affiliate of al Qaeda killed blogger Yameen Rasheed, who had received repeated death threats for his ‘anti-Islamic views’, on April 23, 2017.
Status: PG office in January 2020, citing inadequate investigations, rejected the charges against the suspects. Further, the Prosecutor General sent the case back to DDC for further investigation, following which the commission stated they would resubmit the charges. DDC could not find any fresh leads in the case.

The Al Qaeda is a major threat to the Maldives. On September 19, 2019, the Maldives Government made public the details of 17 terror organisations placed under its Anti-Terrorism Act on the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security. Five of these were related al Qaeda: Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).

Meanwhile, since the formation of the DDC on November 18, 2018, another five terrorism cases have taken place in the country (data till August 30, 2020), though these have not resulted in any fatalities. These include:

  • April 15, 2020, arson attack at Mahibadhoo Harbour: On April 15, 2020, five government speedboats were damaged in an arson attack at Mahibadhoo Harbour on Ariatholhu Dhekunuburi. According to reports, the attack was a retaliation against Government investigations into extremism and drug trafficking.
  • March 22, 2020, Police boat attack: Unidentified attackers set ablaze a Police boat docked at the Harbour of Gan Island in Laamu Atoll on March 22, 2020.
  • March 21, 2020, arson attack: An arson incident occurred at Villa number 47 in Cheval Blanc Randheli, a luxury hotel located in Noonu Atoll.
  • February 4, 2020, stabbing incidents: Extremists, suspected to be inspired by the Islamic State, stabbed and injured three foreign nationals – two Chinese and one Australian – near Hulhumale Red Bull Park Futsal Ground in the Hulhumale city of Kaffu Atoll on February 4, 2020.
  • Attack on Turkish national: Extremists stabbed a Turkish national in Hulhumale city in December 2019.

Though all these cases are still under investigation, it is suspected that the Islamic State is behind each of them. Indeed, IS has claimed two of these incidents (April 15) and (March 21).

Though none of the cases reported since November 18, 2018, the date of establishment of the DDC, are under the purview of the DDC, other agencies investigating the cases have also failed to prosecute a single person in these cases, with the exception of the March 22, 2020, arson incident.

On August 2, 2020, the Office of the Prosecutor General filed an additional terror charge against terror accused Moosa Inaas, for setting ablaze a Police surveillance speedboat on March 22. The speedboat was docked in the harbour of Thundi District of Gan in Laamu Atoll.

The Prosecutor General’s office disclosed that it has filed the charge of carrying out an act of terrorism under Article 6 (b) of the Counter-Terrorism Act, with reference to Article 6 (a) (i) of the Counter-Terrorism Act. Earlier, on July 29, 2020, the Prosecutor General’s Office had charged Moosa Inaas and Abdul Latheef Ibrahim for “possession of material implying support for a terrorist organization” under Article 6 (b) of the Counter-Terrorism Act.

The State continued failure to successfully prosecute those involved in violent acts could strengthen the resolve of terrorist and extremist formations. It will also help such elements to claim that the case filed against them were the vendetta of a secular’ government against the ‘faithful’.

In the meantime, there is a strong possibility of more arson attacks by the extremists, as evident from available online content. On July 30, 2020, the Australia-based scholar of Maldives, Azim Zahir, tweeted that the Maldivian IS group had released a video encouraging arson attacks.

Further, the SITE Intelligence Group, an organisation that monitors online activities of extremist groups, disclosed that the original 4-minute video version “Incite the Believers” was released in both English and Arabic by the IS-linked Al-Hayat Media Center on July 26, 2020. The SITE Intelligence group added further that the video asked supporters to use arson as a method to attack enemies across Africa, North and South America and Europe.

The outbreak of Novel Corona Virus-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to massive financial losses for the State; the full extent of this is yet to be fully assessed. According to data published by the Ministry of Economic Development, Government of Maldives, and the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP), the best-case scenario for the island nation would be negative economic growth of -11.5 per cent, but at worst could go down to -29.7 per cent.

A lethal combination of economic meltdown and poverty-led marginalisation could lead to heightened radicalisation, greatly destabilising the island nation. Lieutenant Colonel Amanulla A. Rasheed in his article ‘Global Trends of Crime and Terror Nexus during COVID-19 Pandemic: Building Community Resilience to Prevent Violent Extremism’ published in National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) Newsletter Volume 37: April 2020 observes:

“…crime and terror would transform, changing its ways and means to exploit the situation and target the vulnerable communities in order to create chaos and misconceptions amongst the public and hate towards the State Governments. Extremist sympathizers are covertly playing their role in spreading the Jihadist beliefs in the vulnerable communities, which is part of terror tactics, and yet the spread of violent extremism has been managed…”

There is a need for greater synergy between various security agencies both at the level of intelligence sharing and investigation so that cases that are registered can be brought to their natural conclusion.

The capacities and capabilities of the Maldivian Security Forces need a boost, in order to effectively meet increasing challenges of terrorist groups and radical elements.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this article are strictly the personal opinions of the author. League of India does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

Published with permission from South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

Giriraj Bhattacharjee

Giriraj Bhattacharjee is a Research Assistant at the Institute for Conflict Management, New Delhi.

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Ahmadi Muslims And The Islamic Pakistan

Ahmadis, like other religious minorities in Pakistan, continue to face violence and discrimination.



On August 13, 2020, a 61-year-old Ahmadi man, Meraj Ahmed, was shot dead near his medical store in the Dabgari Gardens area of Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

On July 29, 2020, Tahir Naseem, a US citizen and an Ahmadi, accused of blasphemy, was shot dead inside a District Court in Peshawar, in the presence of security and the presiding judge. Though he was killed as an Ahmadi, Saleem ud Din, spokesman of the Jamaat Ahmadiyya Pakistan, later claimed, “He was born Ahmadi but left the community many years ago. Therefore, to avoid any misinformation, I would like to clarify that the deceased was not part of Jamaat Ahmadiyya.”

Jamaat Ahmadiyya Pakistan is an organisation that, among other things, watches over the religious, economic and political interests of Ahmadis in Pakistan.

On July 15, 2020, graves of members of the Ahmadi community were desecrated in Tirigiri village of Gujranwala District in Punjab Province, as Quranic verses were written on these graves. Pakistani law prohibits Ahmadis from calling themselves or “posing as” Muslims.

On July 1, 2020, local clerics allegedly vandalised graves of members of the Ahmadi community in the Nawa Kot area of Sheikhupura District in Punjab Province. Saleem ud Din, the spokesman of the Jamaat Ahmadiyya Pakistan, condemning the attack, Tweeted:

“How long the state apparatus will act as enabler in the hands of extremists? How long our dead will be persecuted in their graves? How long the state & others will turn a blind eye to this?”

On February 29, 2020, three graves belonging to Ahmadis were allegedly desecrated by the Police in the Khushab District of Punjab Province.

According to partial data collated by South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), these were the five reported incidents in 2020 in which the Ahmadi community was targeted (data till August 23, 2020). Two of these incidents resulted in one fatality each.

Since March 6, 2000, at least 128 Ahmadis have been killed and 113 injured in 28 incidents of killing.

The worst-ever attack targeting the Ahmadis took place on May 28, 2010. 94 people were killed when two Ahmadi mosques were targeted in Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab, in attacks that included grenades, small arms fire and two suicide bombers. 27 people were killed at the Baitul Nur Mosque in Lahore’s Model Town area and 67 people died at the Darul Zikr Mosque in the suburb of Garhi Shahu. The Punjabi Taliban, a local affiliate of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), had claimed responsibility.

Britain’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in its Report titled, “Suffocating the Faithful: The Persecution of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan and the Rise of International Extremism”, published in July 2020, stated that between 1984 and July 2020, at least 269 Ahmadi Muslims have been killed on grounds of faith. The report also explains the abuse that Ahmadis experience in educational institutions:

“Young Ahmadi Muslims face a constant risk of being denied access to education and those who secure a place are routinely targeted and stigmatised through physical and emotional abuse at the hands of teachers and fellow pupils.”

Indeed, apart from death and desecration, the Ahmadi community faces constant oppression and discrimination in eligibility to hold government positions, in contesting elections, in their businesses, and in the destruction of their homes and places of worship. Ahmadi Muslims are prevented by law from publishing and possessing their core religious texts, crucially including the Holy Quran.

As reported on January 10, 2020, the Punjab Assembly’s Special Committee decided to ban the Ahmadi newspaper, Al-Fazl. This, in a state and a country where dozens of terrorist organisations openly publish multiple magazines.

The oppression and suppression faced by Ahmadis are at the behest of the Pakistani establishment. Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Religious and Inter-faith Harmony Affairs, declared in May 2020 that any form of “soft-heartedness” toward the Ahmadis was both un-Islamic and un-patriotic:

“Whoever shows sympathy or compassion towards [Ahmadis] is neither loyal to Islam nor the state of Pakistan.”

Unsurprisingly, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), constituted in May 2020 has no member from the Ahmadi community. Initially, it was suggested that Ahmadis should get a representation in the Commission, but, as reported on May 18, 2020, Prime Minister Imran Khan rejected that idea after it sparked severe criticism from orthodox Sunnis who consider the Ahmadi belief an insult to Islam.

Moreover, under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), fundamental religious rights are denied to Ahmadis in Pakistan. Ordinance XX prohibits Ahmadis from self-declaration as a Muslim, to make azaan (prayer call), from paying zakat (alms), from observing fast during Ramzaan, and from making a pilgrimage to Mecca. PPC 298 C , thus states:

Person of Qadiani group, etc., calling himself a Muslim or preaching or propagating his faith:-

Any person of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves ‘Ahmadis’ or by any other name), who directly or indirectly, poses himself as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

The Ahmadi community, accepted as a minority sect of Islam at the time of the country’s independence in 1947, became the first minority group to be targeted for sectarian violence when anti-Ahmadi riots broke out in 1953 in Lahore, leading to the first imposition of Martial Law in the country’s history, limited to Lahore. 2,000 Ahmadis were killed in violent protests.

Later, in 1974, under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s Administration, the Parliament brought the Second Amendment to the 1973 Constitution and declared the Ahmadis non-Muslims.

Unlike all other Muslims in the country, Ahmadis were prohibited from calling their place of worship a mosque and saying the common Islamic greeting of Assalamo Alaikum (Peace be upon you ) or reading the Kalima (the testimony of faith).

Further, in 1985, the then President Zia ul Haq pushed through the Eighth Amendment to the 1973 Constitution in Parliament, which was accompanied by a series of laws effectively creating a separate electorate system for non-Muslims, including Ahmadi Muslims.

Moreover, according to the Amendment, they cannot hold government office without publicly denouncing Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadi community.

The status of the Ahmadis has become precarious. Several reports have highlighted the pathetic conditions of the sect, including the International Human Rights Committee report, Ahmadis in Pakistan Face an Existential Threat, published in 2017, which demonstrates that Ahmadis in Pakistan are violently targeted, intimidated, harassed and persecuted at all levels of society. It also testifies to the grave injustices that are meted out to minority religious groups such as Ahmadi Muslims.

Likewise, South Asia Democratic Forum’s report, Persecution against the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Pakistan: A multi-dimensional perspective, published on May 10, 2019, underlined the multifaceted and multidimensional persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan in all spheres of public and private life.

More recently, the US States Commission on International Religious Freedom in its Annual Report 2020, released in April 2020, explaining the situation of Ahmadi community of Pakistan, noted:

“Ahmadi Muslims, with their faith essentially criminalized, continued to face severe persecution from authorities as well as societal harassment due to their beliefs, with both the authorities and mobs targeting their houses of worship.”

In February 2020, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, declaring that minorities are equal citizens of his country, had issued a warning that anyone targeting the non-Muslim population of Pakistan would be strictly dealt with.

Regrettably, Khan has failed to back words with convincing action, as evident in the failure to include an Ahmadi representative in the NCM, and also to ensure effective legal action in any of the continuous stream of cases of atrocity and discrimination targeting Ahmadis.

Ahmadis, like other religious minorities in Pakistan, continue to face violence and discrimination, targeted by acts of vandalism and violence, forced to declare themselves as “non-Muslims” and prohibited by law from professing or practising their faith.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this article are strictly the personal opinions of the author. League of India does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

Published with permission from South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

Dr. Sanchita Bhattacharya

Dr Sanchita is a Research Fellow at Institute for Conflict Management, New Delhi. Assistant Editor: Faultlines Area of Interest: Political Islam in South Asia, Pakistan, Terrorism Education: PhD from JNU, Delhi M.A. in International Relations from Jadavpur University, Kolkata.

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