MN and Others (Ahmadis – Country Conditions – Risk) Pakistan CG: UTIAC 14 Nov 2012

UTIAC 1. This country guidance replaces previous guidance in MJ and ZM (Ahmadis – risk) Pakistan CG [2008] UKAIT 00033, and IA and Others (Ahmadis: Rabwah) Pakistan CG [2007] UKAIT 00088. The guidance we give is based in part on the developments in the law including the decisions of the Supreme Court in HJ (Iran) [2010] UKSC 31, RT (Zimbabwe) [2012] UKSC 38 and the CJEU decision in Germany v. Y (C-71/11) and Z (C-99/11). The guidance relates principally to Qadiani Ahmadis; but as the legislation which is the background to the issues raised in these appeals affects Lahori Ahmadis also, they too are included in the country guidance stated below.
2. (i) The background to the risk faced by Ahmadis is legislation that restricts the way in which they are able openly to practise their faith. The legislation not only prohibits preaching and other forms of proselytising but also in practice restricts other elements of manifesting one’s religious beliefs, such as holding open discourse about religion with non-Ahmadis, although not amounting to proselytising. The prohibitions include openly referring to one’s place of worship as a mosque and to one’s religious leader as an Imam. In addition, Ahmadis are not permitted to refer to the call to prayer as azan nor to call themselves Muslims or refer to their faith as Islam. Sanctions include a fine and imprisonment and if blasphemy is found, there is a risk of the death penalty which to date has not been carried out although there is a risk of lengthy incarceration if the penalty is imposed. There is clear evidence that this legislation is used by non-state actors to threaten and harass Ahmadis. This includes the filing of First Information Reports (FIRs) (the first step in any criminal proceedings) which can result in detentions whilst prosecutions are being pursued. Ahmadis are also subject to attacks by non-state actors from sectors of the majority Sunni Muslim population.
(ii) It is, and has long been, possible in general for Ahmadis to practise their faith on a restricted basis either in private or in community with other Ahmadis, without infringing domestic Pakistan law.
3. (i) If an Ahmadi is able to demonstrate that it is of particular importance to his religious identity to practise and manifest his faith openly in Pakistan in defiance of the restrictions in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) under sections 298B and 298C, by engaging in behaviour described in paragraph 2(i) above, he or she is likely to be in need of protection, in the light of the serious nature of the sanctions that potentially apply as well as the risk of prosecution under section 295C for blasphemy.
(ii) It is no answer to expect an Ahmadi who fits the description just given to avoid engaging in behaviour described in paragraph 2(i) above (‘paragraph 2(i) behaviour’) to avoid a risk of prosecution.
4. The need for protection applies equally to men and women. There is no basis for considering that Ahmadi women as a whole are at a particular or additional risk; the decision that they should not attend mosques in Pakistan was made by the Ahmadi Community following attacks on the mosques in Lahore in 2010. There is no evidence that women in particular were the target of those attacks.
5. In light of the above, the first question the decision-maker must ask is (1) whether the claimant genuinely is an Ahmadi. As with all judicial fact-finding the judge will need to reach conclusions on all the evidence as a whole giving such weight to aspects of that evidence as appropriate in accordance with Article 4 of the Qualification Directive. This is likely to include an enquiry whether the claimant was registered with an Ahmadi community in Pakistan and worshipped and engaged there on a regular basis. Post-arrival activity will also be relevant. Evidence likely to be relevant includes confirmation from the UK Ahmadi headquarters regarding the activities relied on in Pakistan and confirmation from the local community in the UK where the claimant is worshipping.
6. The next step (2) involves an enquiry into the claimant’s intentions or wishes as to his or her faith, if returned to Pakistan. This is relevant because of the need to establish whether it is of particular importance to the religious identity of the Ahmadi concerned to engage in paragraph 2(i) behaviour. The burden is on the claimant to demonstrate that any intention or wish to practise and manifest aspects of the faith openly that are not permitted by the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) is genuinely held and of particular importance to the claimant to preserve his or her religious identity. The decision maker needs to evaluate all the evidence. Behaviour since arrival in the UK may also be relevant. If the claimant discharges this burden he is likely to be in need of protection.
7. The option of internal relocation, previously considered to be available in Rabwah, is not in general reasonably open to a claimant who genuinely wishes to engage n paragraph 2(i) behaviour, in the light of the nationwide effect in Pakistan of the anti-Ahmadi legislation.
8. Ahmadis who are not able to show that they practised their faith at all in Pakistan or that they did so on anything other than the restricted basis described in paragraph 2(ii) above are in general unlikely to be able to show that their genuine intentions or wishes are to practise and manifest their faith openly on return, as described in paragraph 2(i) above.
9. A sur place claim by an Ahmadi based on post-arrival conversion or revival in belief and practice will require careful evidential analysis. This will probably include consideration of evidence of the head of the claimant’s local United Kingdom Ahmadi Community and from the UK headquarters, the latter particularly in cases where there has been a conversion. Any adverse findings in the claimant’s account as a whole may be relevant to the assessment of likely behaviour on return.
10. Whilst an Ahmadi who has been found to be not reasonably likely to engage or wish to engage in paragraph 2(i) behaviour is, in general, not at real risk on return to Pakistan, judicial fact-finders may in certain cases need to consider whether that person would nevertheless be reasonably likely to be targeted by non-state actors on return for religious persecution by reason of his/her prominent social and/or business profile.

Storey, Gleeson, Dawson UTJJ
[2012] UKUT 389 (IAC)
England and Wales


Updated: 23 December 2021; Ref: scu.466465