SHEIKHUPURA/LAHORE: A senior lawyer and prominent member of the minority Ahmadiya community was gunned down in Nankana Sahib on Thursday in an attack claimed by the banned sectarian outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) al-Alami.
Malik Saleem Latif — a member of the Nankana Bar Association and relative of Pakistan’s first Nobel Laureate Dr Abdus Salam — was riding a bike being driven by his son Advocate Malik Farhan when an assailant shot him only a few metres away from their home. They were on their way to the Nankana district courts.
A police officer, Nazim Ali, told AFP news agency that a bullet hit Mr Latif in his chest and he died on the spot. His son, on the other hand, suffered minor injuries.
Hours after the attack, the LeJ sent journalists a statement claiming responsibility for the ghastly attack. Its spokesperson Ali bin Sufyan said Latif had been killed “for spreading Ahmadi beliefs in the region”.
Our Correspondent in Lahore adds: Police in the city of Nankana Sahib said they had arrested a suspect in the case, known as Rashid.
Earlier, they had claimed that the assailant was wearing a security guard’s uniform. After shooting Mr Latif, the attacker was seen fleeing from the crime scene in a rickshaw.
Police said that Rashid fit the profile provided by witnesses. He worked as a security guard at a jewellery shop and drove a rickshaw in his spare time.
Mr Latif was also the father of Malik Awais, a civil judge posted in Lahore. As head of the Ahmadiyya community in Nankana Sahib, he was target of several militant groups.
While this was the first targeted attack on a prominent member of the minority community this year, a report about the persecution faced by the Jamaat-i-Ahmadiyya, which incidentally was released on Wednesday, said that six Ahmadis were killed for their faith last year alone.
Saleemuddin, the Jamaat’s spokesperson, said the government had failed to implement the National Action Plan because no action had been taken against those inciting hatred against Ahmadis. As many as 700 articles were published in national dailies last year.
On Dec 12, 2016 extremists attacked an Ahmadiyya place of worship in Dolmial, in Chakwal district, Mr Saleemuddin said. The mob occupied the place for some time and police seemed to be helpless.
The report said that by Dec 31 last year, 260 Ahmadis had been killed and 377 of them had become victims of attempted murder.
In addition, 27 of their places of workshop had been destroyed and 33 of them sealed by the administration.
The report added that 17 of the worship places had been seized illegally.
Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2017