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The Afghan Calculus of Violence

The US-Taliban Agreement as well as the recent Eid ceasefire initiated by the Taliban have failed to reduce the violence.



On July 24, 2020, four Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) personnel were killed and four were injured in a Taliban attack on their outpost at Kharistan village in Ghor Province.

On July 21, 2020, seven ANDSF personnel were killed when the Taliban attacked security checkpoints in Takhta Pul District of Kandahar Province.

On July 20, 2020, eight ANDSF personnel were killed and nine others were injured in a suicide car bombing in the Sayed Abad district of Maidan Wardak Province. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

On July 20, 2020, eight ANDSF personnel were killed and five others wounded when Taliban militants attacked their checkpoint in the Shinwari neighbourhood of Kunduz city, the provincial capital of Kunduz Province.

On July 16, 2020, nine ANDSF personnel were killed in a Taliban attack in Dawlat Abad District of Balkh Province.

On July 13, 2020, 14 ANDSF personnel were killed and two were wounded as the Taliban stormed the Security Forces’ (SFs’) checkpoints in Imam-Saib and Chahardara Districts of Kunduz Province.

Even after 149 days of the signing of the US-Taliban agreement on February 28, 2020, in Doha, Qatar, the Taliban has not reduced its violence.

According to partial data collected by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), after the signing of the US-Taliban agreement, at least 529 ANDSF personnel have been killed and 134 others injured across the country (data till July 26, 2020).

Prior to the US-Taliban agreement, in the corresponding period, 386 ANDSF personnel were killed and 41 others were injured across the country.

The SF fatalities figure of 529 since February 29, 2020, however, are likely to be grossly underestimated. Indeed, Jawid Faisal, a spokesman for the Office of National Security Council (ONSC), on June 22, 2020, tweeted:

“The past week was the deadliest of the past 19 years. Taliban carried out 422 attacks in 32 provinces, martyring 291 ANDSF members and wounding 550 others. Taliban’s commitment to reduce violence is meaningless, and their actions inconsistent with their rhetoric on peace.”

A report dated July 23, 2020, said that according to the statistics provided by the Afghan Government, after the US-Taliban agreement, 50 security incidents took place per day on average in Afghanistan. The Government data shows that the Taliban and other anti-Government groups are behind 40 attacks a day while the other 10 are attributed to the ANDSF and Operation Resolute Support forces.

According to a UN report released on June 17, 2020, between February 7 and May 14, 2020, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) recorded 5,543 security-related incidents.

Sources indicate that Afghanistan recorded a total of 8,104 fatalities, including 3,156 SF personnel, between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2020.

According to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC)’s report on civilian casualties published on July 14, 2020, on average 16 civilians have been killed or wounded every day across the country in the first half of 2020. A total of 1,213 civilians have been killed and 1,744 wounded in 880 separate incidents during the first six months of the year, according to the AIHRC’s report.

The AIHRC said Taliban attacks were responsible for 48.5 per cent of the recorded civilian casualties. Government forces are behind 15.5 per cent of the casualties, the Islamic State, 6.3 per cent, and international forces 2.3 per cent. Attacks by unknown perpetrators accounted for 26.7 per cent of the casualties.

There have been rising reports of security threats to the country’s main highways. The Herat – Islam Qala Highway, a key highway used to transport most of the imports from Iran remains unsafe for passengers, Government officials and commercial trucks, due to the presence of terrorists. Yunus Qazizada, head of the Chamber of Commerce and Investment in Herat, observed on April 25, 2020, “We are tired of the lack of security on Herat – Islam Qala Highway. Businessmen cannot travel on this highway.”

On July 6, 2020, Afghan Security Forces clashed with the Taliban at multiple parts of the Baghlan – Balkh Highway, a key route that connects Kabul with the northern and north-eastern Provinces. The clashes started after the Taliban installed a ‘checkpoint’ on the Baghlan-Balkh Highway in the Chashma-e-Shir area and started extorting funds from truck drivers. 16 Taliban militants were killed in the clashes.

On July 7, 2020, Afghan Security Forces had a fierce battle with the Taliban on the Pul-e-Khumri – Samangan highway after the insurgents tried to block the road. Seven Taliban militants were killed in a fierce battle.

Meanwhile, the eleventh report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of the United Nations (UN), released on May 27, 2020, stated that the Taliban had failed to fulfil one of the core parts of the US-Taliban agreement, namely that it would break ties with Al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda has 400 to 600 operatives active in 12 Afghan Provinces and is running training camps in the east of the country, according to the report.

On July 13, 2020, seven ANDSF personnel were killed and two others were injured in a joint assault by the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State on a checkpoint in the Arghanjkhwa District of Badakhshan Province.

Unhappy over the deteriorating security situation, some Meshrano Jirga (House of Elders) members expressed their concerns over growing incidents of violence in the country on July 5, 2020. Nabia Mustafazada, a lawmaker from Jawzjan Province, noted, “The security situation deteriorates with each passing day, there is instability in the centre and districts. People are worried due to insecurity, targeted attacks, blasts and worsening economic condition.”

Similarly, Gul Ahmad Azeemi, a lawmaker from Farah Province, argued, “Individuals who want to sabotage peace process should be stopped; otherwise peace will not be restored in the country.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the House, Fazal Hadi Muslimyar, observed, “Government and the people of Afghanistan wanted peace but violence should decline and people on both side working against peace should be stopped from their designs.”

Emphasizing the continuing violence by the Taliban, President Ashraf Ghani, while speaking on the first day of the four-day meeting titled “Strengthening Regional and International Consensus” attended by representatives of at least 20 countries and international organizations, including the United States and the UN in Kabul on July 7, 2020, warned that “the peace process will face serious challenges if the Taliban continue the war.”

Similarly, on July 10, 2020, Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, at the end of the four-day meeting, criticized the Taliban for not ending violence in the country and thus preventing the peace process from moving forward.

Criticizing the Taliban for the escalating violence, Presidential Palace spokesman Sediq Sediqqi tweeted on July 12, 2020:

“The recent escalation of Taliban violence in cities, attacks on security forces, roadside bombings and targeting government employees have damaged the hopes and expectations of the people and the international community for dialogue and making peace. It is time for the Taliban to renounce violence and enter the peace process in a real way.”

Meanwhile, rejecting the call for a reduction in violence as a precondition to start the intra-Afghan talks, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid declared, on July 12, 2020, “The prisoner exchange process must be completed and intra-Afghan negotiations launched immediately. This is the most correct and reasonable path towards a resolution.”

Once again, blaming the Afghan Government for delays in the intra-Afghan negotiations, Shahabuddin Delawar, a key member of the Taliban’s office in Qatar, speaking during a virtual discussion with other Afghans, on July 19, 2020, asserted, “The responsibility of all bloody incidents over the last four months is on the Afghan government because it should have released our 5,000 prisoners by March 15. We were ready to release their 1,000 prisoners in 10 days.”

Based on the peace agreement between the US and Taliban, the Afghan Government is required to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the Taliban to release 1,000 Government prisoners, before the intra-Afghan talks. So far, the Afghan Government has released 4,250 out of 5,000 prisoners, and the Taliban has released 861 Government prisoners out of 1,000.

Revealing one of the main reasons for not releasing 597 of the 5,000 inmates that were to be freed as part of the confidence-building measures established in the US-Taliban agreement, Ahmad Rashid Totakhil, head of the General Directorate of Prisons, on July 5, 2020, stated, “Murderers are on the Taliban list and the government has resisted. It is a victims’ rights issue and the law does not allow releasing someone under the pretext of being a Taliban member, who is charged with murder or even moral crimes like rape.”

The Afghan Government has asked the Taliban to provide a new list for the prisoners who have not been released so far, but the Taliban has insisted on the release of their prisoners based on the existing list.

It is useful to recall that the Afghan Government was not a party to the negotiations or the deal in the US-Taliban peace agreement, and is now being forced to deliver on concessions made by the US.

Meanwhile, in defiance of their commitments not to re-join the war, a number of Taliban prisoners who were released by the Afghan Government have reportedly reintegrated with their colleagues on the battlefield.

On July 21, 2020, a Taliban fighter, identified as Shirullah also known as Captain, recently freed from Afghan Government custody as part of peace efforts, was rearrested in the Kofab District of Badakshan Province during an attack on the ANDSF.

Again, on July 22, 2020, ANDSF personnel arrested two Taliban prisoners who had been released from the Bagram prison, while they were trying to stage an attack on an ANDSF convoy on the Jawzjan-Balkh Highway. Jawid Faisal, a spokesman for the Office of the National Security Council (ONSC) on July 23, 2020, revealed:

“The Taliban fighters signed on the papers and committed that they will not return to the war, regrettably, some of these inmates have returned to the war fronts in defiance of the expectations of the Afghan people.”

Condemning the Taliban for the surge in violence, US special representative on Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, asserted on July 14, 2020, “Violence has been high, especially in recent days and weeks.

The Taliban’s attacks contradict their commitment to reducing violence until a permanent ceasefire is reached in intra-Afghan talks.

“Similarly, describing the Taliban-led violence as unacceptable as efforts are underway to find a negotiated political settlement to the war in the country, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, Ambassador Stefano Pontecorvo, observed on July 21, 2020:

“I would say that the main obstacle to peace now is the unacceptable level of violence from the part of the Taliban. This has been mentioned by everybody who takes an interest in Afghanistan and beyond. Taliban’s level of violence is absolutely unacceptable; they are not creating the conditions for getting to the Peace table. Taliban have to demonstrate that they are serious about peace.”

The US-Taliban Agreement as well as the recent Eid ceasefire initiated by the Taliban have failed to reduce the violence. While calibrating violence may be part of the Taliban’s strategy to join the negotiations in a position of strength, the present escalation jeopardizes the entire peace process. Clearly, the Taliban’s calculus is shifting, even as it consolidates its relationship with the Al Qaeda, and makes a concentrated bid to seize control of widening swathes of the country.

As the peace deal unravels, the imprudence of the US initiative and the hasty withdrawal of US Forces from Afghanistan is increasingly apparent.

The Taliban’s aims have always been maximalist, its engagement in negotiations tactical and opportunistic, and its understanding of the weakness of its adversaries – both domestic and foreign – profound.

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.

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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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