State Complicity in the Extralegal Killing of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan

A Case for Brutalisation


  • Christopher Alexander Monash University
  • Mai Sato Monash University


Since 1984, at least 274 Ahmadi Muslims have been extralegally killed in Pakistan on account of their faith. Despite these killings being committed almost exclusively by non-state actors, this paper probes the extent to which such violence can be traced back to the state. We employ the brutalisation thesis  to demonstrate how two landmark shifts in the law — the formal declaration of Ahmadis as ‘non-Muslim’ and the introduction of the death penalty for blasphemy — have, in conjunction with discriminatory policy and inflammatory rhetoric, shaped the sociocultural landscape so profoundly as to inspire anti-Ahmadi violence. By mapping data on the extralegal killing of Ahmadi Muslims against these pivotal events, we argue that the state’s curation of an environment in which anti-Ahmadi violence is both enabled and condoned renders the extralegal killing of Ahmadi Muslims by non-state actors so indivisible from the state as to be deemed state sanctioned.

Author Biographies

Christopher Alexander, Monash University

Research Assistant at Eleos Justice, Faculty of Law, Monash University

Mai Sato, Monash University

Associate Professor and Director of Eleos Justice at the Faculty of Law, Monash University