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Pakistan's silent partition

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prasad1

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Vganeji praised Pakistan for taking care of its citizen better than India in an earlier post.
//www.tamilbrahmins.com/genera...ans-akshay-starrer-baby-movie.html#post282368
But Pakistan is meeting the aspirations of its people


I wanted to set the facts right.


Pakistan’s story began with a parting — partition from India — and now, for a growing number of people, it is ending with another parting. Negombo, a beach town 24 miles from Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, is refuge for hundreds of Ahmadi Muslims fleeing persecution in Pakistan.


According to the Colombo office of the UN Refugee Agency, or UNHCR, there was a nearly 780 percent increase in the number of Pakistani asylum seekers in Sri Lanka from 2012, when 152 people sought asylum, to 2013, when this number jumped to 1,338. While most of them are Ahmadis, the number also includes Pakistani Christians and Shia Muslims, who have also faced increasing persecution in Pakistan over the years.
However, with Sri Lanka becoming less accessible following the suspension last year of on-arrival visa facilities, fewer people have sought shelter here recently. In 2014, only 239 new asylum seekers were registered.


Members of the Ahmadiyya community can be found all over the world. In Pakistan, their population ranges from 600,000 to 700,000, according to Ahmadi leaders in that country (there has been no census there since 1998). They are among a growing number of minorities — people belonging to small sects within Islam and non-Muslims — leaving Pakistan against the backdrop of increasing religious intolerance and attacks on marginal groups in recent years.

In the lottery of birth, Negombo’s newest residents have been terrible losers. There is a law against Ahmadis practicing their religion in Pakistan, where they were declared non-Muslims under a constitutional amendment more than 40 years ago, following months of rioting. Decades later, the legislation has divided both homes and families and sent many into exile. The worst incident in recent times occurred in May 2010 in Lahore when two Ahmadi mosques were attacked, resulting in the deaths of nearly 100 people.


“Ahmadis have a good case for asylum because there is legalized, state-sanctioned persecution against them in Pakistan,” says Asad Jamal, a human-rights lawyer in Pakistan. “There is both formal and informal discrimination against the group, from criminal cases being instituted against Ahmadis for practicing their belief system, being informally barred against being given jobs in state institutions, to their graveyards being desecrated … Students, too, are forced to hide their identity. How can people live in such a situation?”


The Ahmadi mosque in Negombo is a cradle for those seeking asylum. There is a mix of ages, backgrounds and incomes here, but the asylum seekers are united by their loss. Almost everyone has lost a family member, a friend, an acquaintance. Some have lost their homes to looting or arson. At the mosque, they come to socialize, take the free classes that are offered and worship with a freedom that they did not have in Pakistan.
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Zeeshan fled to Sri Lanka in 2010. It took him three years to gather the resources to bring his wife and four children to Negombo. “Sometimes my brother shows me my parents’ faces on Skype,” he says. “They are now in their 80s and both of them are very ill. I said goodbye to them for the last time when I left Pakistan. I know I’ll never be able to go back and see them again, not even for their funeral.” His parents left their home in India during the partition, migrating to Pakistan in search of a better life. Sixty-eight years later their son is hoping for refuge elsewhere.Pakistani Ahmadis Seek Asylum in Sri Lanka | Al Jazeera America
 
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