Connect with us

INTERNATIONAL

US-China-India And The New ‘Cold War’

Actions and reactions of China, India and the US are likely to determine the pattern of the new Cold War.

Published

on

China’s ascent to great power status during the last 30 years has altered the power equation that had existed in the 1990s between China and India and China and the United States (US). In 1990, China’s GDP of US$ 360 billion was roughly equivalent to that of India’s; today, it is some five times larger at $14-plus trillion. With respect to the United States, China’s GDP in 1990 was 20 times smaller, whereas today that gap stands narrowed to 1.5 times smaller.

The remarkable increase in the size of China’s economy enabled it to step up allocations for its armed forces and enhance their technological capabilities. At an estimated US$ 266.5 billion, China’s defence expenditure is some four times larger than India’s and nearly a third of America’s.

This has enabled the People’s Liberation Army-Army (PLA Army) to embark upon a sustained modernisation programme aimed at transforming itself into a “modern, mobile, and lethal ground force”; the PLA Navy to emerge as the largest in the world with 350 ships and submarines; and the PLA Air Force to field some 2,000 combat aircraft, increase the number of 4th generation aircraft in its inventory, and recently test-fly a new fifth-generation stealth fighter.


This alteration in the power equation has pushed China’s relationships with India and the United States into a state of disequilibrium.

In international politics, where there is no world government and international law and institutions are like cobwebs at the mouth of a cannon, it is the relative power between any two states that determines the type and pattern of their relationship.

China is no longer interested in maintaining the previous patterns of its relationships with India and the United States, which were forged when China’s power was more or less equal to that of India’s and greatly inferior to that of the United States.

Instead, China wishes to forge, peacefully if possible and by force if necessary, new types of relationships with India and the United States that are reflective of the extant balance of power.


China’s Hegemonic Objectives

In the wake of the power gap that has yawned between China and India during the last decade or so, China is keen to transform the erstwhile co-equal relationship into a hierarchical one.

Whereas China’s objective until recently was to tie India down within South Asia through support for Pakistan, it is now determined to supplant India as the leading power in the Indian subcontinent as well as become a predominant power in the Indian Ocean Region. Evidence in this regard include:

  1. Construction of strategic roads and ports in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka which could potentially be used for Chinese purposes as the episode involving the debt-trapping of Sri Lanka into leasing Hambantota Port demonstrated.
  2. Construction of the overland China-Pakistan Economic Corridor from Kashgar in Xinjiang to Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Baluchistan Province, and loud thinking by Chinese analysts about positioning a PLA Navy task force at Gwadar.
  3. Articulation of the PLA Navy’s two-ocean strategy to include the Indian Ocean, acquisition of a base at Djibouti, and the real possibility of acquiring “additional overseas military logistics facilities to support naval, air, and ground forces” in several countries in the Indian Ocean Region.

Given its emergence as a rich and strong country with vital interests spanning the globe, China expects India to demonstrate awed subservience by accepting China’s emergence as the leading power in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region, embracing and benefiting from Chinese geopolitical projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative, and refraining from security cooperation with the United States.

In effect, China would prefer India adopting a policy of short-term appeasement and long-term bandwagoning.

With respect to the United States, the changed power equation has led China to articulate the need for a new type of great power relations entailing respect for the other state’s core interests in its home region: China respecting American interests in the Americas and the Eastern Pacific, and the United States respecting Chinese interests in the Western Pacific and Asia.

In effect, China would refrain from intervening in the Americas and the Eastern Pacific in return for America abandoning its security commitments to East and Southeast Asian countries as well as accepting Chinese sovereignty over some 80 per cent of the South China Sea.


In other words, in return for China acknowledging American primacy in the Western Hemisphere and Eastern Pacific, the United States should concede to China a sphere of influence in the Asia-Pacific, which, in the words of Foreign Minister Wang Yi, “has been the home and root of the Chinese nation for thousands of years.”

With a view to generating broader diplomatic support for building such a sphere of influence as well as to couch China’s quest for Asian hegemony, President Xi Jinping had issued the call of “Asia for Asians” early in his term, which envisages the people of Asia themselves running the continent’s affairs, solving its problems and upholding Asian security.

Finally, to ensure that America is discouraged from even contemplating military intervention in Asian contingencies, such as China’s conquest of Taiwan, China has developed the Anti-Access Area Denial strategy based on a network of missiles, sensors, and guidance technologies.

The net effect of America withdrawing East of Guam and India accepting Chinese leadership in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region would be Chinese hegemony in the region stretching between the Western Pacific and the eastern seaboard of Africa, i.e., the Indo-Pacific – a term that China ironically opposes, viewing it as a geopolitical construct aimed at containing Chinese power and influence.

If Russia were to concede politico-military leadership in Central Asia to China, which appears probable given the growing power asymmetry between the two countries, then Chinese hegemony would descend upon both continental Eurasia and maritime Indo-Pacific.

A New Cold War

India and America are, however, not willing to accept a redefinition of their relationships with China entailing the abandonment of their respective long-held national interests. The international political system does not have a legal or institutional mechanism to effect such a redefinition of inter-state relations in tandem with changes in the balance of power between them.

Such redefinitions, when not voluntary, are brought about through victory and defeat in war – the final argument of kings.

War is, however, not a rational, cost-effective means to settle disputes between nuclear weapon states because nuclear weapons have, as Martin van Creveld observed, severed the link between victory and self-preservation.


What does this stalemate mean for India-China and China-United States relations and more broadly to the Asian international order? The only historical experience we have in this regard is the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. That conflict ended when the Soviet leadership realised the relative inferiority of its politico-economic system in mobilising moral and material resources for the global ideological-cum-power struggle.

A new Cold War may be said to be emerging between China and the United States that is driven by the irreconcilable interests detailed above.

Over the last 10 years or so, America has been gearing itself up to tackle the China challenge. It has rebalanced the military posture towards the Indo-Pacific, reaffirmed security commitments to Asian allies, forged new strategic partnerships including with India, Indonesia and Vietnam, declared its intent to preserve freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea and the airspace above it, recognised China as a great power rival that poses a geopolitical challenge to its interests and an ideological challenge to its values, and, in the wake of the COVID pandemic, America has initiated measures to decouple its economy from the Chinese economy thereby reducing dependence and vulnerability.

Some sections of Indian political and intellectual opinion warn against India taking sides in this new Cold War. They advocate the virtues of nonalignment and highlight the wisdom of reprising another version of the policy. What they overlook, however, is the fact that one of the adversaries in the new Cold War, namely, China, is a neighbour that has been in occupation of Indian territory for 50-plus years, lays claim to other large portions of Indian territory, and whose expanding power and influence in the neighbourhood threatens India’s security, interests and influence.

Even Jawaharlal Nehru, the progenitor of nonalignment, came to understand this when he declared after the 1962 War that there is no nonalignment vis-à-vis China.

Not only did Nehru seek American military aid during that war, but subsequently came to view the Soviet Union as India’s second front and India as the Soviet Union’s second front in the event of either country finding itself at war with China.

Within a decade of his statements, India entered into an alliance with the Soviet Union in order to constrain China from intervening in the 1971 India-Pakistan War.

With Russia viewing China as a partner and therefore likely to at best exert friendly persuasion on China to refrain from an open conflict with India, it is but inevitable that India is forging security cooperation with the United States and its Asian allies so as to be in a better position to deal with the challenges posed by China. China’s brazen and unprovoked military occupation of territory along the border with India since April is likely to accelerate such cooperation as well as initiate the process of decoupling the Indian from the Chinese economy.

Conclusion

To sum up, the change in the balance of power between India and China has introduced a disequilibrium in India-China relations. The series of crises since 2013 is a result of this disequilibrium. More such crises are likely to arise not only over the boundary issue but also over China’s and India’s conflicting interests in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region.

In a similar vein, when China’s power becomes equal to or surpasses that of America during the course of the 2020s, Sino-American relations are likely to be buffeted by crises in the East and South China Seas and the Western Pacific.

The rival actions and reactions of China, India and the United States – the three main actors in the Indo-Pacific – are likely to determine the pattern of the new Cold War.

The key to success in this power struggle would be a strategy that mobilises national resources, fosters diplomatic and military coordination, and rallies international opinion against China’s pursuit of socialist imperialism.

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.

Originally published by the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (www.idsa.inhere.

S. Kalyanaraman

Dr S. Kalyanaraman is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. His areas of research are India’s foreign policy and defence strategy; and, Asian and global security. He has represented India in the 7-country Track 1.5 dialogue on “Rise of Asia” initiated by the Carnegie Endowment in 2007 and 2008.

Continue Reading
Comments

INTERNATIONAL

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.

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

INTERNATIONAL

Maldives’ DDC Struggling With Prosecutions

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

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

INTERNATIONAL

Ahmadi Muslims And The Islamic Pakistan

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

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Most Read This Month

error: Content on this news portal is protected!