Ahmed Rashid in the New York Review of Books:
The Ahmaddiya movement is a sect that follows the teachings of a nineteenth-century religious reformer and promotes the peaceful propagation of a variant of Islam. But in the 1970s, the Pakistani government—under pressure from conservative Muslim clerics—declared the Ahmadis a non-Muslim minority and many Pakistanis today view them as heretics to Islam—something considered far worse than being non-Muslim. Although some two million Ahmadis still live in Pakistan, millions more have fled abroad. Many of the victims at the two mosques—including a retired army Lieutenant General and several retired senior judges and civil servants—were over 70 years old, showing the extent to which the younger generation of Ahmadis have largely left Pakistan.
Ahmadis are by far the most persecuted minority in Pakistan by Islamist parties and right wing media, and they are widely portrayed as subversive and cultish in school text books. Prominent journalists and politicians think nothing of publicly reviling the Ahmadis or Christians, describing them as agents of foreign powers or anti-Pakistan, while the state has again and again demonstrated its unwillingness or inability to protect them and other religious minorities.
Moreover, while Christians have prominent bishops and community leaders who are outspoken about their tribulations, and the Shia priestly hierarchy is influential and is supported outside Pakistan by Iran, nobody is willing to speak up for the Ahmadis. On Friday some of the local TV channels even refused to name their sect, calling them instead “a religious minority.” Senior government officials declined to meet with Ahmadi representatives or visit hospitals where the wounded were being treated.
Pakistan has taken an awfully long time to understand that it faces an unprecedented terrorist threat that is not a result of conspiracies hatched in Washington, New Delhi or Tel-Aviv, as many in the public believe, but that is the result of the Pakistani state’s nurturing of extremist groups since the 1970s. More: